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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.

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(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.

“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.

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.

A few weeks ago my friend Lynda requested a special recipe for her grandmother’s 100th birthday – a vodka tonic. According to Lynda, her grandmother credits her longevity to the daily consumption of this classic cocktail. How great is that?! I credit my occasional poor decision making and sluggish weekend mornings to cocktail consumption. Lynda made this recipe for her grandmother’s 100th birthday party, and it was a hit. I couldn’t be more honored.

In an attempt to try something new, I added candied limes to Grandma’s Vodka Tonic. This recipe for candied lemons from Real Simple magazine inspired me. Unfortunately the results were mixed: Boiling limes turns them brown (not very pretty), but they tasted sweet and limey! Oh, lemons can easily substitute limes in this recipe.

Recipe for 7 cups

  • 4 packets Knox gelatin
  • ¾ cup water (for blooming gelatin)
  • ½ cup water (for syrup)
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime (approx. 1/4 cup) with zest reserved
  • 1 ½ cups tonic water
  • 2 cups vodka
  • Berries of choice, or candied limes

Put ¾ cup of cold water in a large bowl and sprinkle 4 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 lime zest. Cover and let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lime syrup, and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in lime juice, vodka, and tonic.

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 berries. (Length of time varies.) Stir in berries (or whatever you’re using) and spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

The 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.

Here is the first installment of my Halloween gelatin molds – I’m having way too much fun! I found these great Halloween molds on ebay

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.

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

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.

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 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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