roseblancmange

To celebrate the third season of Downton Abbey, I’m re-posting a recipe from my Downton Abbey series. Oh yes, there will be more Downton inspired gelatins to come…

So yeah, like many people with Netflix and a heart, I freaking love the PBS Masterpiece Classic show Downton Abbey. I adore the rich and complicated characters, dramatic plot lines, Edwardian fashions, class struggles, women’s rights, and gelatin molds. Gelatin molds? Gelatin molds! It’s like the fine folks at Masterpiece Classic read my mind and created a television show guaranteed to suck away my time and provoke endless conversations with my girlfriends. Conversations that go like this:

Me: “So how kind and hot and sexy and smart and thoughtful is Matthew? What the hell was Mary thinking?”
Girlfriend: “I don’t care that his penis broke in the war. I’d find a way to work around it.”
Me: “I know, right?”

Or this conversation:

Me: “Did you see that creamy gelatin Daisy unmolded with Mrs. Patmore’s incessant nagging?”
Girlfriend: “No, I missed that.”
Me: “Or what about that red jelly in the first episode, what do you think that was? What would they use for food coloring?”
Girlfriend: “Uh, I don’t know.”
Me: “Didn’t you notice all those copper gelatin molds on the kitchen wall? Where can I buy those? I haven’t seen anything like that in Austin.”
Girlfriend: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

It’s no secret that foods made with gelatin, or “jellies” as the English say, were popular in Edwardian England. After some research (i.e. 15 minutes with goggle), I came across a myriad of Victorian and Edwardian gelatin recipes – hence my Downton Abbey Jelly Series was born. According to several cookbooks popular during Downton Abbey times, Blancmanges were common gelatin desserts that consisted of milk, sugar, citrus, and an essence of choice. See this recipe from, “The Easiest Way in Housekeeping and Cooking,” published in 1903. Since rose essence was popular in England before the commercialization of vanilla, and in honor of Mr. Molesley’s most worthy prize-winning rose, I decided to create a rose flavored blancmange.

In all honesty here, I was extraordinarily excited about this rose flavored blancmange, but was disappointed in the results. Maybe my American taste buds aren’t accustomed to rose essence, or my creamy-loving taste buds missed the fat inherent in heavy cream that is missing in just whole milk, but I found this recipe lacking in rich lusciousness. But it came out really pretty, right?

Well, this Rose Blancmange is only the first in a series of several Edwardian-era jellies to come – oh, the gelatin possibilities make me almost as excited as seeing Shirley MacLaine as Clara’s mom in season three!

Rose Blancmange Recipe for 2 cups

  • One packet Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup cold whole milk (for blooming gelatin)
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk (for heating)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (or more to taste)
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon rose water (I found rose water on the international food aisle at my local grocery store)
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
  • Red food-coloring (optional)

Put ½ cup of cold milk in a bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top. Set bowl aside. Over medium heat, heat 1 ¼ cups milk and sugar until sugar dissolves (be careful not to scald the milk). Add lemon zest, and remove from heat for 10-minutes. Strain mixture, and pour hot milk over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Add rose water, brandy, and food coloring (if using), adjusting proportions to your preference. Pour liquid into mold(s) and refrigerate until solid.

To remove gelatin, put mold into a bowl or sink full of warm water for a few seconds. After removing from water, gently shake the mold side to side. If gelatin has not separated from the edges of the mold, run a knife around the edge. Put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process.

Decorate with candies rose petal – I used this recipe from Food and Wine. Candied rose petals are easy, lovely, and delicious!

CranberryThe holidays offer endless possibilities for gelatin molds – think eggnog, pumpkin, apple cider, and cranberries. Cranberries? Yes please! Delightful and tart, I associate cranberries with turkey and cosmopolitans. This boozy gelatin, based on the classic cosmo, combines 100% cranberry juice with my favorite holiday flavors – ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. And booze. If you’re inclined to mix drinks at home, the ginger-spice simple syrup transforms cocktails into dazzling little liquid celebrations.

Recipe for ginger-spice simple syrup*

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 small whole nutmeg

Combine water with sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. When sugar dissolves, remove from heat and add ginger, cinnamon, anise, and nutmeg. Cover pan and let sit overnight. In the morning, strain the syrup and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Should last a few months.

*Recipe adapted from here (epicurious.com)

Cranberry Ginger-Spice Martini (recipe for 3.5 cups)

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • 1 cup water (for blooming)
  • 3/4 cup cranberry juice (I use 100% cranberry juice, but if using a blend with added sugar, consider adjusting the sugar)
  • 1 cup ginger-spice simple syrup
  • ½ cup vodka (better vodka equals better gelatin mold!)
  • ¼ cup triple sec (I used my new favorite Paula’s Texas Orange Premium Liqueur)

Put 1 cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water. Set bowl aside.

Put cranberry juice in small sauce pan, and put on medium heat. Upon almost boiling, remove from heat and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in ginger-spice syrup and alcohol. Pour mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set.

Top layer (optional)

Since I had this seasonal gelatin mold to play with, I added a creamy top layer. Here’s what I used:

  • 1 packet gelatin
  • 1 cup water (½ cup for blooming gelatin, ½ cup for boiling)
  • ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk

Put ½ cup of water in a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Set bowl aside. Bring ½ cup water to boil and remove from heat. Pour hot water over bloomed gelatin, stir until fully dissolved. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Pour mixture into mold and put in refrigerator. Once creamy layer is almost set, pour in cranberry mixture.

Since 2010 I’ve been experimenting with pumpkin panna cottas – while most tasted alright, they never turned out the way I wanted. Even the mold seen here turned out strange – notice how some cream separated from the pumpkin? Oh well – it still tasted good.

I finally decided to let go of my nagging pumpkin panna cotta perfectionism and post my favorite – Cardamom Pumpkin with Cognac. To create this mold, I adapted this Mark Bittman recipe published in the New York Times by adding a cardamom simple syrup and cognac. By the way, have I mentioned how much I adore cardamom? It’s a shame many American’s have yet to discover what South Asians have known for centuries – cardamom is a distinctly lovely spice that takes deserts to an entirely different level of, well, spicy fantasticness. The combination of cardamom, pumpkin, cream, and cognac tasted like a unique boozy pumpkin pie without the crust.

Recipe for Cardamom Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup water 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2-Tbsp. whole cardamom pods

Combine water with sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and add cardamom pods. Cover pan and let sit overnight. In the morning strain the syrup and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe for 4-cups

  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • ½ cup cardamom simple syrup (see above)
  • ¼ cup Cognac (a nice brandy will also work here)

In a medium-sized bowl, sprinkle the packet of gelatin on top of ¾ cup milk. Set aside for 5 minutes. Using a blender, blend the cardamom simple syrup, cream, pumpkin, and cognac. After blending, put mixture in a small saucepan over medium heat (Do not boil). Once steam starts to come off of pumpkin mixture, pour the mixture into the bowl with gelatin and milk. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Pour into mold(s), and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

So many Halloween gelatin possibilities, and so little time… Here’s a re-post of past deliciously disgusting boozy gelatin molds.

From October 2010:

Needless to say, Halloween is a fantastic time of year for gelatin molds. My goal was to create tasty (but disgusting looking) desserts from scratch using no food coloring. Overwhelmed with yummy/revolting possibilities, I only had time and money to pull off a few. Except for the Bloody Mary heart (which tasted bland to me), they were a hit at parties.  These great Halloween molds can be found on ebay.

Raspberry Cream with Cognac and Raspberry Syrup

Recipe for 5.25 cups

  • 3 packets Knox gelatin
  • 1 cup water (for blooming gelatin)
  • 1 ½ cup water (for boiling)
  • 1 cup puréed fresh raspberries, seeds strained (approx. 2 cup whole)
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup cognac

Put 1 cup of water in a large bowl and sprinkle  gelatin on top.  Set aside. Put water in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in raspberry purée, sweetened condensed milk, and cognac. Pour into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

To remove gelatin, put mold(s) into a bowl or sink full of warm water for a few seconds. After removing from water, gently shake the mold side to side. When the gelatin jiggles away from the edges of the mold, put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process or run a knife around the edge. Be careful not to melt or damage the gelatin in the process.

Raspberry Syrup (adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water

Combine raspberries, cornstarch, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until syrup thickens. Strain. Spoon over set gelatin mold.

Bloody Mary Heart

Recipe for 2 cups

  • 1 packet Knox gelatin
  • ¼ cup water
  • Juice of ½ lemon (zest reserved)
  • 1 ¼ cups tomato juice
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 dashes tabasco sauce

Put 1/2 cup of vodka in a small bowl and sprinkle the packet of gelatin on top. Set bowl aside. Put water and lemon juice a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat and add lemon zest. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain and add to the vodka and gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce and tabasco sauce. Pour into mold(s). Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

To remove gelatin, put mold(s) into a bowl or sink full of warm water for a few seconds. After removing from water, gently shake the mold side to side. When the gelatin jiggles away from the edges of the mold, put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process or run a knife around the edge. Be careful not to melt or damage the gelatin in the process.

Riga Mortis Hand – Blackberry and cream with crème de mûre

Recipe for 4 cups

  • 2 and ¼ packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming gelatin)
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup puréed fresh blackberries, seeds strained (approx. 1 ½ cup whole)
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup crème de mûre
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla

For blooming, put ½ cup of water in a large bowl and sprinkle  gelatin on top.  Set bowl aside. Put water in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in blackberry purée, sweetened condensed milk, crème de mûre, and vanilla. Pour into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

To remove gelatin, put mold(s) into a bowl or sink full of warm water for a few seconds. After removing from water, gently shake the mold side to side. When the gelatin jiggles away from the edges of the mold, put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process or run a knife around the edge. Be careful not to melt or damage the gelatin in the process.

(Repost from October 2010)

Like many pop-culture junkies of my generation, I never get tired of watching “The Big Lebowski.” The 1998 Ethan and Joel Coen film has spawned multiple books, an annual festival, academic works, and even a religion called “dudeism.” The main character in the movie (“The Dude”) drinks White Russians, so when I made this White Russian gelatin mold for our friend Lynn’s birthday, the name seemed obvious.

White Russians consist of coffee-flavored liqueur, vodka, and cream. To create this gelatin mold, I used my basic panna cotta recipe (minus vanilla bean) and added vodka and Kahlúa. I also created a version with sweetened condensed milk (see below). Personally, I preferred the less sweet panna cotta version, but several of my friends liked the sweetened condensed milk more. Both versions tasted like a White Russian ordered at a bar.

The molds seen here are especially fantastic. I purchased the star mold at my favorite Austin vintage store (Room Service Vintage), and my friend Christie purchased the flower mold at a Tulsa estate sale.

Recipe (panna cotta version) approx 3 cups

  • 1 packet Knox gelatin
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Kahlúa
  • ½ cup vodka

Sprinkle the packet of gelatin on top of ¼ cup milk. Set aside for 5 minutes. In a small saucepan heat up cream and sugar (do not boil). Once sugar dissolves, pour cream over the bloomed gelatin and milk. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in Kahlúa and vodka, and spoon into mold(s). Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

Recipe (sweetened condensed milk version) 5.25 cups

  • 3 packets Knox gelatin
  • 1 cup water (for blooming)
  • ¾ cup water (for heating)
  • 1 cup vodka
  • ½ cup Kahlúa
  • 2 cups sweetened condensed milk

Sprinkle the gelatin on top of 1 cup of water. Set aside for 5 minutes. In a small saucepan heat up ¾ cup of water and vodka (do not boil). Once heated, pour water and vodka over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and Kahlúa, and spoon into mold(s). Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

In the two years since starting this blog, I’ve felt ridiculous guilt for not appeasing my beer-drinking friends. At every party I bring a boozy gelatin mold to, some bearded dude asks the inevitable – where’s the beer?

Being a beer liker (not a beer lover), I couldn’t begin to imagine a beer gelatin mold. My limited beer appreciation involves the following: (a) Budweiser, which my parents let the adolescent me drink on special occasions, (b) Guinness, which I drank a lot of in the late 90’s to impress an Irish-phile I was unrequitedly in love with; and my favorite, (c) Austin local brew Fireman’s #4, which I gift to beer-loving friends and order at every Alamo Drafthouse movie I see.

About a year ago, my bearded friend Kerim mentioned how he enjoys an occasional Shandy, and I finally had an idea for a beer gelatin mold. Interestingly, the word Shandy can mean many different cocktails, but usually refers to mixing beer with something sweet. The first time I heard the word Shandy was at Dim Sum with my dear friend Bindiya. For Bindiya, a South Asian raised in Singapore/London and now residing in Texas, a Shandy consists of a light beer combined with equal parts Sprite. Now I love my dear friend like a sister, but I personally couldn’t imagine a less appetizing cocktail.  However, when my friend Kerim mentioned a Shandy as beer combined with lemonade, a light went off in my head. Hence, the Shandy gelatin mold was born.

It took several trials to perfect this recipe. Due to the high carbonation of beer, it was difficult to find a balance that kept the effervescence but still held shape. See the picture at the left – this is what happens when you attempt to float cherries in a high-carbonation gelatin. As my high school friend Kelli said, it looked like brains.

So several trials later, I finally created a solid Shandy gelatin mold for my good friend Matt’s birthday. I’m very happy with this recipe, seen here with candied lemons. I hope you can enjoy it as well.

Recipe for 5 cups

  • 3 packets Knox gelatin
  • 1 cup water (for blooming gelatin)
  • ¾ cup water (for syrup)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup strained lemon juice, with zest reserved
  • 2 cups wheat beer (I used Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat)

Put 1 cup of cold water in a large bowl and sprinkle 3 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put remaining water and sugar and in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lemon zest. Cover and let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lemon syrup, and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in strained lemon juice and beer. Spoon mixture into mold(s), and put in refrigerator until set (at least 4 hours).

To remove gelatin, put mold(s) into a bowl or sink full of warm water for a few seconds. After removing from water, gently shake the mold side to side. When the gelatin jiggles away from the edges of the mold, put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process or run a knife around the edge. Be careful not to melt the mold in the process.

“Have a drink. It’ll make me look younger.” — Roger Sterling, Season 4, Episode 5: “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword”

Roger Sterling, the king of self-indulgence, has the best one-liners on Mad Men. Expertly portrayed by silver fox John Slattery, Roger exudes entitlement and superficiality, but with just the right amount of self-awareness to make him occasionally endearing. Very occasionally. In honor of Roger and his beloved vodka, I present the Greyhound – the fantastic combination of grapefruit juice and vodka. This gelatin was sweet, tart, and boozy –  a hit my Mad Men party.

As I write this, I’m still reeling over episode 11: “The Other Woman.” I could write volumes about my reaction to the situation Joan was put in. For now, I’ll say that Roger disappointingly agrees to LITERALLY pimp out Joan at the expense of her value as a human being. As Roger once said to Joan, she’ll never be a Jackie, only a Marilyn. Meaning in the eyes of Roger (and many men), Joan will only be a sex object. Like a beautiful and impractical car – the intelligent and competent Joan is an object to be experienced and owned. Bad Roger! BAD!

I’m really struggling to get past my anger at the fictional Roger. He is fictional, right? Fictional means NOT REAL. But I guess that’s the power of story telling. Good stories, at the end of the day, teach us something about our world and ourselves. What I learned from Joan’s predicament is too personal to share here, but I assure you my friends will receive an earful. Isn’t that the brilliance of good story telling? God, how I love it.

 Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ¾ cups freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, strained to remove pulp
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup vodka

Put ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin on top.  Set bowl aside.

Put strained grapefruit juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil for 10-minutes. Boiling is very important – fresh grapefruit juice has enzymes that will prevent gelatin from setting. Add juice/sugar to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in vodka. Spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

To remove gelatin, put mold(s) into a bowl or sink full of warm water for a few seconds. After removing from water, gently shake the mold side to side. When the gelatin jiggles away from the edges of the mold, put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process or run a knife around the edge. Be careful not to melt the mold in the process.

Joan, in all her fantastic competence and intelligence, is one of the few characters on Mad Men I actually like. Mad Men characters are generally fascinating and dynamic, but rarely likable. Really, how likable is sexism, racism, infidelity, self-absorption, lying, denial, and substance abuse?

Joan has been guilty of all of those things, but in Joan we witness an inner strength and tenacity that other characters lack. Because of that strength, and because Joan is good at everything she does, we watch her grow and change in positive ways. Hurray for leaving her doofus rapist husband! Hurray for recognizing that, while she loves her son, she also loves her job! Hurray for changing her mind on her, “marriage is everything and the end goal of all women” attitude! Hurray for seeing Roger as the man-child he is!

Unlike Don, Betty, and Roger, Joan doesn’t have a signature cocktail. I resigned myself to the task of re-watching previous seasons to see what she orders, then Episode 4: Mystery Date aired. During the dinner scene when Joan realizes what a doofus her idiot husband is, she orders a gin fizz. Hence, the Joan Holloway gelatin mold is a gin fizz with candied lemons. And it tastes lovely – I enjoyed eating the candied lemons suspended in the gelatin, but it’s optional.

Recipe for 5.25 cups

Candied Lemons (optional), I used the slices of three lemons, and this recipe from Real Simple magazine

  • 3 packets Knox gelatin
  • 1 cup water (for blooming)
  • ½ cup water (for boiling)
  • ¾ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • ½ cup lemon juice, strained, with zest reserved
  • 1 ¾ cups gin
  • 1 cup club soda
  • Candied lemon slices (optional)

Put 1 cup of water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the 3 packets of gelatin on top.  Set bowl aside. Put ½ cup water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lemon zest. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lemon syrup, and return to saucepan. Reheat the syrup, and pour over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in gin and club soda.

Put mixture in refrigerator (or freezer) until thickened to a soft gel consistency. It should be easy to stir but thick enough to suspend the candied lemons. Place candied lemons into mixture, and the mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

To remove gelatin, put mold into a bowl or sink full of warm water for a few seconds. After removing from water, gently shake the mold side to side. When the gelatin jiggles away from the edges of the mold, put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process or run a knife around the edge. Be careful not to melt the mold in the process.

Oh Betty! So beautiful, so miserable, so much denial. Is she likable? Not really. Is she a good mother? Hell no. She lacks Joan’s competence and Peggy’s ambition, so why of all the wonderfully crafted and acted women on Mad Men do I adore Betty the most?

I adore Betty because we witness her struggle to find herself. Cold, lost, and tenaciously flawed, much like my own mother, Betty struggles in the dichotomy of what she was told would make her happy (housewife/mother/arm candy) and what might actually give her fulfillment. Tragically, unlike Joan or Peggy, Betty is too far removed from her emotional self to know what she wants.

So where does that leave Betty now? Apparently eating away her misery – losing the beauty she learned to depend on. Oh Betty! What will happen to you? Will you discover what brings you joy? Will you develop compassion for your children? Will your world expand from the frozen, self-absorbed universe you’ve trapped yourself in? Wait, am I still talking about Betty?

Anyway, in honor of my favorite dysfunctional mother on television (Lucille Bluth comes in a close second), I offer Betty’s favorite cocktail (the vodka gimlet) in gelatinous form. Tart, sweet, and fruity, this gelatin was a hit at my Mad Men cocktail gelatin party.

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming)
  • ¾ water
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • Juice of two limes (approx. 1/2 cup) with zest reserved
  • 1 ½ cup vodka

Put ½ cup of water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the 2 packets of gelatin on top.  Set bowl aside. Put water, sugar, and lime juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lime zest. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lime syrup, and return to saucepan. Reheat the syrup, and pour over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in vodka.

Put mixture in refrigerator (or freezer) until thickened to a soft gel consistency. It should be easy to stir but thick enough to suspend the strawberries. Stir in (or place) strawberries into mixture, and the mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

To remove gelatin, put mold into a bowl or sink full of warm water for a few seconds. After removing from water, gently shake the mold side to side. When the gelatin jiggles away from the edges of the mold, put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process or run a knife around the edge. Be careful not to melt the mold in the process.

My unrelenting love of period melodramas continues with a second installment of my Downton Abbey Jelly Series. The first Downton Abbey post, Mr. Molesley’s Prize-Winning Rose Blancmange, was historically correct and visually lovely, but disappointing taste-wise. It turns out adapting Victorian/Edwardian recipes to modern-day ingredients and measurements is not as easy as I hoped.

For the second installment of the series, and to prevent another taste disaster, I decided to not create my own recipe but follow in the steps of my own culinary hero, Julia Child. Lucky for me, Mastering the Art of French Cooking has several recipes for the pinnacle gelatin dessert of Edwardian England – the Bavarian Cream. A Bavarian Cream (Bavarois if you’re fancy) is essentially custard with whipped cream added just before setting, a touch of gelatin to maintain shape, and a touch of flavoring and booze.

If you’ve ever made a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, you know they are not simple or straight forward. Instead they are convoluted and complicated, resulting in many tear stains on my beaten up copy. This recipe pushed my limited culinary skills to their breaking point. Needless to say, the Bavarois à l’Orange was the most work I’ve put forth for a gelatin dessert.

Let me summarize what is required for this recipe – you must separate a bunch of eggs, whip egg yolks in sugar, cook egg yolks without scrambling (I’m still shocked I pulled this off), dribble boiling milk into egg yolks, whip egg whites and fold into yolks, stir egg mixture in a bowl sitting into another bowl of ice, whip cream, and fold cream into everything else. Grating and juicing the oranges was just the easy part. Get the idea?

Complaining aside, the work put into this dessert is worth it. This is, without a doubt, the most delicate and flavorful dessert I’ve ever made. Egg yolks created a taste more rich and complicated than typical panna cottas, and addition of whipped cream and whipped egg whites created a delicate and fluffy texture that transcended – well – anything I’ve ever tasted. Since I’ve never had a Bavarian Cream before, I have no idea how “authentic” mine turned out, but I do know it was a hit at my French-themed birthday party.

A note on this recipe:

Since it would be a breach of copyright law to replicate the entire recipe on my blog (and I really hate breaking copyright laws), I will not post the recipe. However, if you’re the type of person who wants to make such a complicated and fantastically delicate dessert, you should bite the bullet and just buy Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Good news: After some research, I discovered most Bavarian Cream recipes are not nearly as complicated as Julia’s. So if you’re looking for an easier recipe, Google away!

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