Cooking Light (July 2013)
Once the provenance of frat houses and bachelorette parties, gelées now pop up occassionally in the pages of food magazines.
Whatever you do, don't call 'em Jello shots. They always go by their classier, more adult name, Gelée (which sounds like what we might name a baby we adopted from France).
In fact, in our third month of blogging here, more than five years ago, we featured Lemoncello Gelée from Martha Stewart Living at a going-away dinner party. It was love at first shot sight.
We're back with gelées today. The July issue of Cooking Light features the classiest looking gelées. With Fourth of July festivities ahead of us, we thought this might be the perfect recipe to get you ready for fireworks.
The good news is that making gelées is easy and low-effort. The bad news is that creating gelées as beautiful as these Lemony Blackberry ones requires a lot of time -- more than six hours for everything to be prepped and set.
You start with vodka and gelatin, perked up by a big dose of lemon juice, sugar and water. That gets placed into a dish and stowed away in the fridge for a few hours, creating the first, clear(ish) layer.
Meanwhile, blackberries, sprinkled with sugar and water, cook down into a thin compote and then get strained through a sieve, creating a lovely, dark blackberry juice. That juice goes into more vodka, with more gelatin, and is poured on top of the partially set lemon layer of the gelée, then stowed away for three more hours.
The recipe seems to give up at this point (cut, garnish and serve!). From the photo in the magazine, we surmised that that we needed to invert the gelée to remove it from the bowl, so that the lemon layer was then the top layer, and then slice it into 36 pieces.
Freeing the gelée from the dish was difficult, which was disappointing since we specifically purchased cooking spray (as recommended) just to avoid this problem. We don't like cooking spray, and would just as soon not have used it here, but were ready to be wowed by its gelée-freeing ability. That, sadly, did not happen. So we ran a knife around the outside of the dish and then inverted the pan onto a platter. The gelée still did not come free, so we ran the knife around the dish a bit more, prying the gelée away from the pan more forcefully. Eventually, it popped free and slithered out.
We sliced our gelée into pieces using unscented dental floss, a trick we've seen before that works extremely well here. Then we seperated it into pieces, set it on platters and prepared to garnish.
But our poor gelées couldn't stand up. Like a sorority girl after her own fill of gelées, our little shots couldn't stand upright on their own. We'd prop them up, they'd fall over. Either we cut them into too-small pieces, or else it was because we used a round glass dish instead of a square one as recommended. (Alas, our square baking dish has gone on a walkabout and has not returned.)
Still, they look beautiful lying there on their sides. And they taste phenomenal. The lemon is perfectly tart; the blackberry, wonderfully sweet. Together (along with the faint hint of vodka) they taste absolutely wonderful.
Take them to a party. Soak it up as guests ooh and ahh about how beautiful they are. Warn them there's a hint of vodka. Accept the high fives that come your way from showing up with such a delightful treat. Notice as guests keep sneaking bites of them. And help yourself! Just don't sneak so many that you're unable to remain upright.
Lemony Blackberry-Vodka Gelées
Adapted slightly from Cooking Light (July 2013), recipe by Mary Drennen
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Nutritional information available at CookingLight.com
Yield: Serves 18 (serving size: 2 cubes)
Total time: 6 Hours
Notes from Zach and Clay of The Bitten Word:
We say this recipe is "adapted slightly" because we've inserted directions on how to free the gelées from the pan, which was omitted by the magazine.
We cut our gelées using a piece of unscented dental floss, holding it tightly on both ends and using it to make long, clean cuts.
Ingredients1 1/2 cups vodka, divided
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup water, divided
8 cups blackberries
Lemon rind strips (optional)
1. Place 1 cup vodka in a medium bowl. Sprinkle 2 envelopes gelatin evenly over vodka; let stand 3 minutes. Combine 1 cup sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add hot lemon juice mixture to vodka mixture, stirring until gelatin dissolves. Pour lemon-vodka mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; chill 1 hour and 45 minutes.
2. Place remaining 1/2 cup vodka in a medium bowl. Sprinkle remaining 2 envelopes gelatin evenly over vodka; let stand 3 minutes. Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 1/2 cup water, and 8 cups blackberries in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring mixture occasionally. Strain blackberry mixture through a fine sieve over a 4-cup glass measuring cup; discard solids. Add 2 cups hot blackberry mixture to vodka mixture, stirring until gelatin dissolves (reserve remaining blackberry mixture for another use). Gradually pour blackberry-vodka mixture evenly over partially set lemon-vodka mixture. Chill 3 hours or until set.
3. Remove from dish by inverting on a platter. If the gelées are not easily coming free from the dish, run a sharp tip knife along the edge of the dish. Invert again. If the gelées are still not coming free, run a knife again around the edge, but this time gently pry the bottom-most part of the gelées away from the dish. Cut into 36 cubes. Garnish with blackberries and lemon rind strips, if desired.