Suspended Animation: Summer Fruit, Elderflower and Prosecco Jelly

I remember watching Jamie Oliver on TV during his Oliver's Twist days, back when he'd zip around London on his scooter gathering groceries and have friends over to cook at his kitchen with the big window in the background. I remember seeing him make this recipe one episode. I had forgotten all about it until recently when I was trying to find a use for the big bottle of elderflower cordial that's been sitting in my fridge. 

I'm sort of obsessed with elderflower drinks. My favourite summer refreshment involves mixing a little elderflower cordial with fizzy water or sparkling wine. It's quite a unique flavour; it's sort of fruity, a little floral, with a hint of a "greenness". Elderflower is probably best in beverages though. I've tried elderflower flavoured chocolate and I swear it tasted like a chocolate bar that's been sitting in a granny's purse for too long (nastily perfume-y). 

This dessert is quick to prepare and fun to eat. The gelatin captures the bubbles so it stays fizzy on your tongue when you eat it. It can be unmolded or served in a glass. I topped the ones in the glasses with some vanilla mousse. I love the berries and cream combination. The cream mixed with the wine also tastes a bit like syllabub.

I tried making a similar dessert involving grape jello and club soda a few years ago. That attempt literally fell flat so I was worried about all the bubbles dissipating again before the jelly set. I was a bit more prepared this time, having done some extra research!

Tips and the recipe after the jump!


Full sized gelatin sheet above, half sheet below
-It's helpful to have the fruit in the jelly, rather than setting the liquid alone. As you can see in the photos, a lot of the bubbles get caught in the berries, rather than bursting on the surface.
-Use a wine that has a lot of bubbles in it in the first place. If you're using prosecco, look for prosecco spumante rather than frizzante. The latter has bubbles that disappear soon after pouring. 
-Don't shake the wine bottle before you open it and pour the wine down the side of the bowl to minimize the foaming (i.e. losing the bubbles)
-Make sure everything is cold when you mix it together so the gelatin sets as quickly as possible. Chill the molds and the berries in the fridge and stick the wine in an ice bucket. (Gases are more soluble in cold liquids. Hooray chemistry!) Cool the melted gelatin to lukewarm before adding the wine.
-Remember that alcohol makes gelatin set more softly, so if you're converting gelatin quantities, it's better to use a bit more rather than too little.
-Gelatin sheets sizes can be confusing. The recipe below was created using old full-sized gelatin sheets. Today, they are generally sold in half sheets (about the size of your hand). 

Summer Fruit, Elderflower and Prosecco Jelly

Serves 9

8 pints of mixed berries
4 sheets of gelatin (8 if using half-sheet sizes)
1/4 pint (1/2 cup) elderflower cordial
2 heaping tablespoons of sugar
1 3/4 cups chilled Prosecco (or other sparkling white wine)

Divide the ripe fruit into 9 small glasses. Place all the glasses on a tray and chill in the refrigerator.
Soak the gelatin leaves in some cold water for a minute, then drain, and add the gelatin back to the bowl with the cordial. Rest above a pan of water over a medium heat and stir constantly until the gelatin and cordial become syrupy.
At this point you can add sugar, stir until dissolved, then remove the bowl from the heat, and let it sit at room temperature for a minute or two.
Remove the chilled Prosecco and chilled fruit from the refrigerator. The idea being that the fruit molds and Prosecco are all chilled, so the bubbles stay in the jelly when it sets and they fizz in your mouth when you eat it.
Pour the Prosecco into the cordial mix, then divide between the glasses over your fruit. Some of the fruit might rise to the top, so using your finger, just push the fruit down into the jelly mix so that it is sealed and will then keep well in the refrigerator.
Place in the refrigerator for an hour to set. (It'll probably take closer to ~3 hours.)
To serve, dip the glass in to a bowl of hot water to loosen the outside of the jelly, then turn it out onto a plate.

Gelatin photo from The British Larder
Recipe source: The Naked Chef
Other images property of beets and bites

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