Another favorite of the summer, apart from ice cream and no-bake desserts is the refreshing and light fruit jelly. We can enjoy it either alone in a bowl, or as an ingredient in a more complex dessert. In our new summer article we will talk about jelly, we will learn its history, we will see its various impressive uses in pastry and we will make our own coconut-melon jelly.
The history of jelly as we know it is relatively recent, as it is associated with the discovery of gelatin. We read that the jelly came centuries after the jam. From ancient times they produced a kind of jelly by boiling fish bones and tissues. Its first use was as glue. But it was a demanding job that took place only in the kitchens of the rich. Therefore, serving jelly was a sign of wealth and prestige.
On the History’s website we read that there were medieval jelly recipes as early as 1400, which were savory and were called “jellies”. Made by boiling pig’s ears and feet, they were filtered and stored in special bags. These jellies also served as preservatives for the meat and vegetables they contained. Since Catholics often fasted and didn’t consume meat, a kind of fish jelly was also developed.
The world’s best known gelatin competitor was discovered around 1660 in Japan. Minoya Tarozaemon noticed that the fish soup he had thrown away was well preserved. So he shared the discovery with a relative, who started producing a red seaweed product known there as “kanten”, and to us as agar agar. It is the herbal thickening ingredient used in vegan recipes!
In 1682 French mathematician Denis Papin discovered a machine which was the forerunner of the locomotive and the pressure cooker. With it he was able to produce gelatin from the intense boiling of animal bones.
A preparation of gelatin called “aspic”, a kind of jelly, was very common in the late 18th century at European tables. These were clear, savory jellies that had elaborate shapes and contained whole or sliced ingredients. Antonin Carême, the famous French chef of the 19th century, was a big fan of this food.
Other preparations that used gelatin were desserts made from fruit juices mixed with sugar and gelatin. We found that the first time the term “jelly” appeared was in an 18th century cookbook, in The art of cookery made plain and easy by Hannah Glasse. The jelly was a layer of a layered dessert that the British call “trifle”.
So, there was a demand and need to produce jelly in an easier way than boiling pork legs. We learned that in 1845 in Scotland the J and G Company of Edinburgh produced dried, tasteless gelatin and in the same year began exporting it to America. On the other side of the Atlantic, in 1845 the industrialist and inventor Peter Cooper patented the first powder mix for a dessert with gelatin, which only needed the addition of hot water. The product, and similar others, did not have the desired success, as the desserts had a strange appearance and taste.
Since then, various companies have released their own mixes, with more or less success until nowadays that jelly is a cheap and accessible dessert for everyone. So let’s go back to today, to see original ideas on how we can use jelly in our sweet creations!
Jelly cubes with fruit
A nice Thai idea are cubes with coconut jelly and fresh summer fruits. All you need is a large ice cube tray, coconut water (or plain water), fruit and gelatin -or agar agar for a vegan version- and your cubes are ready!
Jelly cake with fruit and coconut milk
An evolution of the above idea is the jelly cake. A layer of mango jelly, a layer of coconut milk jelly and a layer of coconut water jelly with fresh fruit for an impressive cake! You, of course, can use whatever materials you want, just keep in mind that each layer takes several hours to stabilize, before you pour the next one.
Jelly as a layer over cakes
A more complex use of the jelly is to combine it with a cake or sponge. A delicious combination is the chocolate cake with jelly and fresh forest fruits. You can use ready-made jelly mixture or make your own with fruit juice to which you will add gelatin. See our recipe for melon jelly at the end of the article!
Jelly as a layer of a layered mousse cake
You will probably remember our birthday cake… Eat Dessert First Layer Cake with walnut dacquoise, caramel mousse, apple jelly, crème diplomate and nougatine crisp. The apple jelly, flavored with cinnamon and anise add notes of apple pie to our cake. In general, creating one or more layers of jelly in a cake adds an extra texture and flavor, and makes your dessert more interesting and impressive!
Jelly as an inner layer in a complex dessert (entremet)
A more sophisticated use of fruit jelly is as an insert in a complex dessert of mousses and custards. It gives a feeling of acidity and freshness that goes well with the light textures of the mousses. You will need the right moulds and enough attention and patience, to attain a beautiful result…
3D jelly cake
Something wonderful that we discovered are the jelly cakes with three-dimensional designs, real works of art! The method of making a 3D jelly cake is quite complicated and definitely requires a lot of practice to achieve a beautiful result. The way to make such a cake is by adding colored patterns using special tools, such as a syringe with a very thin nose. The paint is poured into the jelly giving a three-dimensional feeling to the designs. Just beautiful!
We may not know how to make 3D works of art in jelly, but we will make our own coconut-melon jelly with kiwi and serve it in an impressive way, in its skin. Get fresh fruit and gelatin and let’s create!
H συνταγή μας
Ingredients for the jelly
|Coconut milk||400 ml|
|Gelatine (powdered)||30 gr|
|Brown sugar (or granulated)||3 tbs|
How to make the jelly
Prepare your improvised bowl:
Cut the melon in half.
Carefully remove the melon flesh with a knife.
Flatten the inner surface with a spoon.
Your improvised bowl is ready!
Prepare the coconut jelly:
Pour the coconut milk into a saucepan to warm up.
Add two tablespoons of brown sugar.
At the same time, put the 10 gr. gelatin in a bowl and add 4 tablespoons of water. If you want to make your jelly vegan, use agar agar instead of gelatin.
Once the coconut milk starts to boil, turn off the heat and add the softened gelatin.
Mix well with the handwhisk to homogenize the coconut milk with the gelatin.
Pour the mixture into your improvised bowl.
Add the diced kiwi and put the improvised bowl into the fridge for several hours to thicken. We left it all night long.
Alternatively, you can fill glasses, placing them leaning in a cup for a more impressive appearance! You can also fill ice cube trays to make jelly cubes.
Prepare the melon jelly:
The next day cut the melon that you had removed into pieces and put it to boil in a saucepan together with a tablespoon of brown sugar. Do not drain the melon but put it together with all the liquids.
Once it starts to boil, leave it for five minutes to simmer on medium heat, stirring and mashing with a wooden spoon.
Prepare 20 gr. of gelatin together with 8 tablespoons of water as you did for the coconut jelly.
Mash your melon with a hand blender or a simple blender.
Add the softened gelatin and mix well with the whisk.
Put the jelly in the freezer for half an hour, so that its temperature drops, but without thickening. Next, fill your improvised bowl and glasses.
Place the bowl and glasses in the refrigerator for several hours, preferably overnight to stabilize the melon jelly. If you want, you can even put the bowl in the freezer, to make it sorbet-like!
Once your jelly has stabilized, you have to cut the melon into slices, while the glasses are already ready for enjoying!
Happy jelly delight to all!
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