16 February 2014

Playing with Jelly

Last week when I wandered aimlessly around the supermarket and into an isle I normally don't visit, I discovered Hartley's jelly bricks. Basically "concentrated" gelatin with flavours and colours. It seemed like an intriguing product, so I bought some with a vague idea of how to prepare them.

I'm still not very confident with gelatin, even if it's worked out OK on some occasions, there have been a few disasters in the past as well. This time, I searched for instructions about these on the internet and found a video, which I should have watched a few times, before embarking on my experiments.

The instructions on the packets seem to vary from country to country. The ones on my packet said cut up the brick into cubes, then dissolve them in 285 ml of boiling water. Once dissolved, add a further 285 ml of cold water, then pour in moulds, allow to cool and chill in the fridge until set. A hot tip on one website was to use only half the amount of boiling water and increase the cold water accordingly and this would cool things down faster and thus result in an overall quicker set. This also meant that the boiling water wasn't quite up to dissolving the cubes, I had to whizz the mixture some 15 s on max in the microwave in addition. So I'm not sure if I achieved a quicker set jelly.

As for shaping, I made the assumption it would be strong enough to stand up on its own. I had three ideas in mind - one was to create flowers in small glasses, a second was to make rainbow-coloured lollies and a third was to make colourful layers in one of my brioche moulds. The first idea was the most complicated one - I realised I would need to do each flower petal on its own and let it set before making the next one. It looked really pretty in my head: the bottom layer would be green and lime flavoured. Next there would be five red strawberry flavoured petals, then a layer of five orange coloured and flavoured petals, then finally a yellow coloured and pineapple flavoured circle in the middle. To get the petals, the glass would need to be kept at an angle in the fridge, so that the jelly would set up along the side, rather than at the bottom. I had six available glasses and took to a box from eggs in the hopes I could use it to balance the glasses on it. I also marked up the glasses with rubber bands to know how high up I wanted the jelly petals. And got started...


This contraption didn't work, but luckily there were shelf edges which I could use to lean the glasses against, and with the help of a couple of jam jars, make stay in that precarious position.


Sorry, not easy to photograph the inside of the fridge. Not to mention that I realised that a second layer of petals wouldn't work at all. The end result was far from impressive. But the jelly set within about 4 h, meaning I could do 3 petals on one day. Here is the first petal


And here is the second petal

You get the idea...

The lollies and the brioche mould were a lot easier. Lundulph obviously knew something was up and was getting eager to try it out, so we started with the brioche moulds. It wasn't easy to get them out, I cut the edge of the surface with a knife, but had to eventually partly destroy the shape, in order to get it out of the mould. In addition, the first layer had not bonded with the following layers, not sure why, so it remained in the mould and I had to scoop it out with a spoon. I guess you can sort of see the shape, but there is no strength to stand up on its own.


Not sure where the colours have gone either. Flavour-wise, it was OK, though a bit on the slimey side. I've yet to try and get one of the lollies out... I'd better stick to traditional gelatin and get to grips with that in the future.

Update on 27th February 2014:


Yes, we're still working our way through the jelly. After establishing that the jelly made like ice lollies would not come out voluntarily, Lundulph suggested I freeze them to see what happens. This turned out to be a stroke of genius, because what we ended up with was an ice lolly with a very nice texture! It seems there are some parts to the jelly that just won't freeze, so there was a velvety smooth feel to the ice lollies, yet they were solid. I would have preferred these ice lollies a bit sweeter - they were good at room temperature, but frozen, they were a bit bland. However, Lundulph was quite happy with them. I wouldn't have thought of freezing a jelly, but thanks to Lundulph, I now have a few ideas to try out next.

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