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For the past year, I’ve kept a notebook filled with random ideas for boozy gelatin molds. (Or in this case, non-boozy agar agar molds.) Some of these ideas result in recipes I post, others turn into unfortunate globs of goo, while the majority remain quirky figments of my imagination. Anyway, last week, when looking through my notebook, I decided to knock out three separate ideas in one recipe: herb-infused panna cotta, vegan panna cotta, and coconut milk panna cotta.  Hence, I present the Lemon Basil Vegan Panna Cotta.

I didn’t realize it until after I tasted the final product, but coconut milk, basil, and lemons create a brilliant palette common in Thai cuisine. At once creamy, sweet, and tropical, the hint of basil adds a splash of unexpected herby brightness – typical of many Asian desserts.

If you’re interested in agar agar, a vegan alternative to gelatin, checkout my other agar agar posts: Blood Orange, Blackberry and Tea, Hibiscus Mint, Gelatin Tips and Tricks.

Recipe for 2 cups

  • ¾ teaspoon agar agar
  • 1 ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • ½ cup water
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 5-7 fresh basil leaves

In a saucepan, bring the coconut milk, water, and sugar to a boil. Take off heat, add lemon zest and basil, and steep for 10-minutes. Strain to remove leaves and zest, and return liquid to the saucepan. Add agar agar, and bring to a low boil for 15-minutes. Pour into molds and let cool.

To remove agar agar, put mold into a bowl or sink full of hot water for a few seconds. Gently shake the mold side to side to loosen, or run a knife around the edge of the mold. Put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process.

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Berries, herbs, and gin – a match made in my own voluptuary heaven. A few weeks ago I tried a berry rosemary gelato featured at my favorite neighborhood bar, Dolce Vita, and it was ridiculously divine. The addition of savory herbs to desserts may seem objectionable, but in proper proportion, a hint of rosemary, basil, thyme, or sage brings an unexpected brightness to boozy gelatin. Per Dolce Vita bartender Sam’s suggestion, I paired my berry rosemary gelatin with gin. Made from juniper berries and other natural botanicals, gin is perfect for pairing with savory herbs. The resulting gelatin mold was lovely (thanks to the combination of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries), fruity, herby, and overall yummy.

Check out my previous experiments with herbs: Basil Blueberry Lemonade with Vodka, Rosemary Limeade with Blueberries and Gin, Lemonade with Thyme and Vodka.

Recipe for 5.25 cups

  • 3 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming gelatin)
  • ¾ cup water (for syrup)
  • Juice of one small lemon, zest reserved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups berries, pureed and strained (I used a combination of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • 1 cup gin

Put ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 3 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put water and sugar over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lemon zest and rosemary. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the syrup, reheat, and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in pureed berries (remember to strain!), lemon juice, and gin. Spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

This creation is the latest installment in my series of herb-infused boozy gelatin molds. The unique fusion of rosemary, limes, blueberries, club soda, and gin proves irresistible as a cocktail; and even yummier in gelatinous form. I adore the delightfully sweet and sour combination of berries, citrus, herbs, and booze.

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming)
  • ¾ water (for syrup)
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • Juice of one lime (approx. ¼ cup) with zest reserved
  • ½ cup 100% blueberry juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • ¾ cup gin
  • ½ cup club soda
  • ½ cup blueberries

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

Put water, blueberry juice, sugar, and lime juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add lime zest and rosemary leaves. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lime/rosemary syrup, and return to saucepan. Bring to boil, remove from heat, and add the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in cold 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 blueberries. Stir in berries and spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

Flavored simple syrups offer endless possibilities for drinks and gelatin molds. After enjoying the unique gelatinous merging of basil with blueberry lemonade and vodka and fig and cardamom cream with rum, I have continued to create various syrups with fresh herbs, spices, and dried fruits. To experiment with flavor combinations, I paired the syrups with juices, fruits, teas, club soda, tonic water, and occasionally booze (see the lemonade with thyme and strawberries pictured below).

In the midst of this enjoyable summer experimentation, a few combinations stood out as potential gelatin molds. (Yes, there are more herb-infused gelatins to come!) This gelatin mold consists of lemons, thyme, sugar, club soda, and vodka. A few of my friends winced at the mention of thyme in a gelatin mold, but after tasting they understood. The thyme compliments the lemons and vodka, while the sugar and club soda provide a sparkly sweetness.

 

 

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See this mold mentioned here in The Globe and Mail, and here at Apartment Therapy The Kitchn.

I love figs and I love cardamon, but I never thought of combining them until I read this fantastic article about simple syrups by Addie Broyles in the Austin American Statesmen. The article describes perking up summer drinks with simple syrups, but I immediately transferred the concept to gelatin molds. This mold was made with sweetened condensed milk, rum, and fig and cardamom syrup. Fruity, spicy, and boozy – this may be my favorite gelatinous experiment to date. My friends enjoyed pouring additional fig and cardamom syrup on the creamy mold – yum! We also enjoyed eating the cardamom and sugar soaked figs.

To make a fig and cardamom simple syrup, combine 1-cup water with 1-cup sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and add 1-cup dried figs and 2-Tbsp. whole 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 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming)
  • ¼ cup fig and cardamom syrup (see above)
  • ¼ cup rum (I used white rum, but any would do)
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Sprinkle two packets of gelatin on top of ½ cup water. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan heat up rum and the previously prepared fig and cardamom syrup, but do not boil. Once heated, pour over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in sweetened condensed milk, and then spoon into mold(s). Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

See this mold featured on Relish Austin, Addie Broyles food blog on austin360.com.

Flavored simple syrups, like the ones described in this article by Addie Broyles in the Austin American Statesmen, are the key to creating complex and unique gelatin molds from scratch. Here I combined homemade basil simple syrup, 100% blueberry juice, blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, water, club soda, and vodka. The resulting taste was like summer in gelatinous form – tart, sweet, and herbalicious.

Recipe for 3.5 cup mold

  • 2 packets gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming*)
  • ¾ water (for syrup)
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • Juice of one lemon (approx. ¼ cup) with zest reserved
  • ½ cup 100% blueberry juice
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • ¾ cup vodka
  • ½ cup club soda
  • ½ cup blueberries

Put ½ cup of water in a small bowl and sprinkle the 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside. (*This is called “blooming.” Blooming allows gelatin to absorb water and thus dissolve easily when added to hot water.)

Put water, blueberry juice, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add lemon zest and basil leaves. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lemon/basil syrup, and return to saucepan. Bring to boil, remove from heat, and add the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in cold vodka 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 blueberries. Stir in berries and spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

My lovely friends enjoyed this tart and boozy mold.

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