I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I love stories about vampires. Especially the vamps of True Blood and Charlaine Harris’s addictive Sookie Stackhouse novels. Unlike vampire tales that focus on restraint, True Blood is a story of a strong southern woman entering the vampire world of visceral excess: An extravaganza of sex, blood, and southern charm. How fantastic is that?!

This gelatin isn’t the first time I experimented with gore (see Halloween Part One and Part Two). But, this is the first time I’m breaking one of my gelatin tenants: No food coloring.  While I thought long and hard about this, I figured a red velvet panna cotta warranted breaking my arbitrary rule.

This red velvet panna cotta consists of whipping cream, buttermilk, cocoa, red food dye, and bourbon – so yummingly southern! My Okie and Texan roots are proud. Oh yeah, it tastes pretty fantastic too. Just like a creamy and boozy red velvet should.

Recipe for 10 cups

Red Velvet top layer

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • 1 cup whole milk for blooming gelatin
  • 2 ½ cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • Red food dye

Sprinkle the gelatin on top of 1 cup cold milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan heat up cream, buttermilk, and sugar. Add cocoa a little bit at a time and stir thoroughly. Once sugar and cocoa dissolves, pour over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves.  Strain mixture to remove powdered cocoa clumps – and there will be clumps! Next, stir in red food dye until desired color is achieved – I added a lot. Pour into mold(s) and refrigerate until almost set. It should stick to your fingers when slightly touched.

Bourbon and Cream bottom layer

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • 1 cup whole milk for blooming
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla (or to taste)

Sprinkle gelatin on top of 1 cup cold milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan heat up cream and sugar. Once sugar dissolves, pour over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in vanilla and bourbon. Refrigerate until not set, but cool. Spoon into mold(s) as the second layer. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

I adore the movie Casablanca. The romantic in me swoons at the palatable chemistry between Rick and Ilsa, while my social justice warrior admires Rick’s decision to choose the greater good over the love of his life. Blatant racism and sexism aside, Casablanca elicits my sentimentalities. The music, Ilsa’s dresses, pre-occupied Paris, flowing champagne, scary Nazis, clever self-awareness, fear of the unknown – how sad and magnificent!

For better or worse, alcohol plays a central role in the film. Bourbon, champagne, and French 75s have starring roles. The champagne cocktail, my personal favorite, is ordered by Laszlo as he meets his French resistance contact at Rick’s. Hence, The Casablanca gelatin mold is based on the champagne cocktail.

Several variations of champagne cocktails exist, but the classic recipe calls for 1 sugar cube, 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters, and champagne. (As much as I love champagne, I rarely can afford it! Instead I purchase less expensive Spanish Cava or Italian Prosecco.) The bitters and sugar cube offers a tasty, spicy punch to any sparking wine. The spicy sweetness transferred nicely into a gelatin mold.

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming gelatin)
  • ½ sparking wine for heating
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups sparking wine
  • 8-10 dashes of bitters (or to taste, personally I prefer A LOT of bitters!)

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

Put ½ cup sparkling wine and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in sparkling wine and bitters. Spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours


This Japanese-inspired post is in honor of the Austin Bakes for Japan charity event on April 2nd. I’ll be selling gelatin molds at the Nomad Bar from noon to 2:00. All money will go to AmeriCares relief efforts in Japan.

For this gelatin mold, I used plum wine (a traditional Japanese favorite), Cava (a not-so-sweet Spanish sparkling wine), elderflower syrup (an affordable substitute for the fantastic St. Germain), and blueberries. The plum wine and elderflower syrup added a fruit and floral sweetness to the bubbly Cava. The gelatinous result was really foamy, see all the bubbles? The sweet and boozy carbonation in solid form created a surprisingly odd yet fun tactual experience – I could feel the tasty bubbles popping in my mouth.

Recipe for 3.5 Cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ¾  cups Cava (or other sparkling wine)
  • ½ cup plum wine
  • ¼ cup Elderflower Syrup (or St. Germain)
  • ½ cup blueberries (or other berry of choice)

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

Put rest of water over medium heat and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat add hot water to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in Cava, plum wine, and elderflower syrup.

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

“I know a girl who reminds me of Cher
She’s always changing
The color of her hair
She don’t use nothing
That ya buy at the store
She likes her hair to be real orange
She uses tangerines.”

Like any rock and roll junkie hailing from Oklahoma, I love The Flaming Lips. Here I celebrate one of my all-time favorite bands the only way I know how – with a boozy gelatin mold. Inspired by their popular song, “She Don’t Use Jelly,” this gelatin combines the fantasticness of tangerines and sparkling wine – think tangerine mimosas. Yum…

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ¾ cups freshly squeezed tangerine juice, strained to remove pulp
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup sparkling wine (I prefer Cava, but a Prosecco or Champagne would work as well)

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

Put tangerine juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in sparkling wine. Spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

Instead of Valentine’s Day, this year I celebrated Galentine’s with my single girlfriends. We considered it a celebration of the love we have in our lives – the love of our friends. This chocolate and cardamom panna cotta with a strawberry layer on top was the end to a decadent and labor-intensive meal consisting of super fancy cheese and homemade raviolis.

Chocolate and cardamom – where do I begin? As my friend Laura said, “The chocolate and cardamom are having babies in my mouth!” The mellow cardamom complimented the rich chocolate – it made the dark chocolate seem almost darker. But in a good way. The addition of the thin strawberry layer on top brightened the intense dark chocolate creaminess.

Here are a few yummy variations for this recipe:

  • If you are not a fan of intense dark chocolate, reduce the baking cocoa to ¼ cup.
  • Add two tablespoons of your favorite liqueur to liven things up. An orange or raspberry liqueur would compliment the cardamom and chocolate.
  • Replace strawberries with raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries. Orange or tangerine juice would work as well.
  • Instead of adding a fruit layer, make a raspberry or strawberry coulis.

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 sugar dissolves, remove from heat and add cardamom pods. Cover pan and let sit overnight. In the morning, strain the syrup and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

We added cardamom simple syrup and strawberries to our glasses of Cava – it was fantastic!

Chocolate and Cardamom Panna Cotta with Strawberry layer

Strawberry top layer (Recipe for 1 ¾ cups)
  • One packet Knox gelatin
  • ¼ cup water (for blooming)
  • ½ cup water (for boiling)
  • ¼ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 cup pureed strawberries, seeds strained (NOTE: it is very important to strain the seeds! Otherwise, they will sink to the bottom of the mold, and show up on the surface. Not pretty!)

Put ¼ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 1 packet of gelatin on top of the water. Set bowl aside.

Put water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in pureed strawberries. Pour mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until almost set. It should stick to your fingers when slightly touched.

Chocolate and Cardamom Panna Cotta (Recipe for 2.5 cups)
  • One packet Knox gelatin
  • ¼ cup whole milk (for blooming gelatin)
  • 1 ¾ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup cardamom simple syrup
  • ½ baking cocoa powder

Sprinkle the packet of gelatin on top of ¼ cup cold milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan heat up cream, sugar, cardamom simple syrup. Add cocoa a little bit at a time and stir thoroughly. Once sugar dissolves, pour over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Refrigerate until not set, but cool. Pour into mold(s) and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Blood oranges, crimson and delightful, are quickly becoming my favorite citrus. Unlike their gory name, they are lovely, tart and sweet. With a vibrant color and distinct flavor, they are perfect for gelatin molds – or in this case, agar agar set in orange peels.

The blood orange agar agar seen here is inspired by this Blood Orange Jelly Smiles recipe from the fantastic website, The Kitchn. I changed the recipe by substituting agar agar for gelatin. These are surprisingly easy to make and fun to eat!

If you’re interested in agar agar, checkout my other agar agar posts: Blackberry and Tea, Hibiscus Mint, Gelatin Tips and Tricks.

Recipe for 2 cups

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine blood orange juice, water, sugar, and agar agar. Bring to a boil, and continue boiling for 15-minutes. Pour into halved orange peels – see these instructions on using orange peels as molds. Enjoy!

This strawberry margarita gelatin mold was inspired by the favorite cocktail of one of my favorite people, Tim Inklebarger. Tim is a fellow Okie and music junkie, former Austinite, brief Alasakan, and now Chicagoan journalist who misses the fantastic Mexican food and margaritas of Texas. Can’t say I blame him…

Now, I realize I say this often, but this gelatin mold may be my new favorite. The fresh pureed strawberries combined with lime juice, tequila, and quality orange liquor created a delightfully sweet and tangy gelatin like none I have experienced before. It tasted like a gelatinous citrus-strawberry aqua fresca, with tequila. The key to a margarita gelatin mold is “Top Shelf” booze. Here I used Hornitos Resposado and Paula’s Texas Orange Premium Liqueur. Enjoy and Cheers!

 

 

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ water (for blooming)
  • 1 ¼ cup water (for syrup)
  • ¾ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • ¼ cup lime juice (approx. 1 or 2 limes, depending on size) with zest reserved
  • ½ cup tequila
  • ¼ cup triple sec
  • ¾ cup pureed strawberries, seeds strained

Put ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  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 add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in tequila, triple sec, and pureed strawberries. Spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

The margarita – a killer combination of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice – is the best of Texas in a glass. And as a Texan and cocktail enthusiast, I take margaritas very seriously. When making them for parties (or just for myself with homemade tortilla soup), I use fresh limes, the best quality alcohol I can afford, and classic margarita proportions (1.5 oz tequila, 1.0 oz triple sec, 0.5 oz lime juice). For booze, I am presently enjoying Hornitos Resposado – it’s spicy, sweet, and affordable. And instead of cheap triple sec, I prefer Paula’s Texas Orange Premium Liqueur. All this creates a lovely sweet and sour combination with no yucky cheap booze or sour mix aftertaste.

I was originally weary of creating a margarita gelatin mold – cocktail-based gelatin molds are a tricky (and expensive) ordeal! I typically experiment with two or three recipes before creating one worth eating. Shockingly, this mold turned out great after just one trial. (I believe the key to cocktail-based gelatin molds is decent quality alcohol – use poor quality booze, and the gelatin mold will taste like a sweet, sticky, cheap boozy mess.) Along with “Top Shelf” booze, the strawberries provided visual interest and sweet fruity tastiness. Honestly, my friends and I were surprised how good this turned out!  Given it’s versatility, I plan on several more margarita-inspired gelatin molds in the future.

Recipe for 3.5 Cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming)
  • 2 cups water (for syrup)
  • ¾ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • ¼ cup lime juice (approx. 1 or 2 limes) with zest reserved
  • ½ cup tequila
  • ¼ cup triple sec
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (or other fruit of your choice – except fresh mangos, see Gelatin Tips and Tricks)

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

Put rest of water, sugar, and lime juice in a small 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 add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in tequila and triple sec.

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

Oh the holidays! I realize I’m posting these recipes post-holiday feeding frenzy, but darn I’ve been busy…

Since November 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.

UPDATE 12/6/10

Thanks to everyone who voted for my blog! It was an honor to be nominated with some amazing Austin bloggers. I didn’t win, but had a fantastic evening at The Austin Bleet-Up. Thanks again for the gelatin love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

11/30/10

So, this is my first non-gelatin mold post. I feel like I’m cheating on my gelatinous creations – taking away their spotlight for some awkward self-promotion. I’m sure they’d understand… If they could.

I’m honored and pleasantly surprised by the attention my blog is receiving (check out my Press page), including being nominated for an Austin Blogger Award in the category of Best Specialty Food Blog. The awards are presented by The Republic of Austin (a blog I highly recommend). The winner will be announced at The Austin Bleet-Up this Friday December 3rd. If you have a moment, I’d appreciate if you went to this website and voted for me: The Austin Blogger Awards

Thanks everyone for the gelatin love!

 

 

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