Jelly is precarious by nature, its wobble is part of its charm, but it can be a nerve wracking to make, especially when making large upturned moulds that need to wobble sweetly on their dish but not collapse.
Friday night, Sarah stayed up making jelly for a Saturday album cover shoot. Her kitchen smelt of the strange gluey gelatin smell as she made a table-top of jelly moulds: a beautiful, glistening purple mold in the shape of a crown, and spliced edible crystals; jewels that sparkled in all the colours of the rainbow. She woke up at 6am Saturday morning just to make sure the jelly had set.
The next Friday we decided we wanted a jelly crown for ourselves. A grand dessert for the end of dinner. We used Nigella’s raspberry chardonnay jelly recipe, with a little extra gelatin to hold the crown, but when Sarah upended the mould she was met with a slurping sound. The crown held but as she walked away it heaved and wobbled right off the plate and onto the floor. Disaster.
We cleaned the floor and salvaged what we could. Then we started again. We made jellies in little glass bowls, and they weren’t the grand shimmering desert we had in mind but they were gorgeous and pink. The tart raspberries and punch of booze work well with the sugary jelly.
And just like Marge Simpson in the 1996 episode of the Simpsons, Scenes From the Class Struggles in Springfield – the episode she acquires a Chanel Suit, becomes a member of the country club, and the Simpson family carries jelly salads across the country club lawn, wobbling – we realized life is better without the grandeur.
raspberry chardonnay jelly
This recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer. It’s the alcohol that makes all the difference for the setting. There’s just a little too much wobble – it’s a ‘just set’ jelly really, so make individual portions in little bowls or glasses (as Nigella does, so 90s).
1 bottle Chardonnay
300g raspberries (frozen is fine)
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
6 sheets leaf gelatine (gold variety is best)
250g caster sugar
Place the wine and berries in a bowl and allow to steep for half an hour. Strain the wine into a saucepan and keep the raspberries to one side. Heat the wine with vanilla pod until nearly boiling and leave to steep for 15 minutes. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until soft.
Remove the vanilla pod and reheat the wine stirring in the sugar in until it dissolves; allow to boil if you want to lose the alcohol.
Add a third of the hot wine to the wrung-out gelatine leaves in a measuring jug and stir to dissolve, then add this mixture back into the rest of the wine and stir well. Strain into a large jug.
Place the raspberries, equally, into 6 flattish, clear glass serving bowls, and pour the strained wine over the top. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Take out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving. Serve with pure cream if you like.