Monday, February 13, 2012

It's a Saint Valentine's Day Blog Hop - yippee - and a recipe for Blancmange and Jelly!!

Poster available at my Etsy shop
Happy Saint Valentine's Day everyone!!

 Please join me on a Saint Valentine's Day Blog Hop to see some wonderful artwork from around the world - my thanks to the talented Chris Chun for organizing this:

 and now for a recipe
I have always been a fan of jelly (jell-o to my friends in the US) ever since my Mum used to take me into Manchester for the day and we would go to Woolworth's and have lunch upstairs - they had jelly in lovely fluted American style ice-cream glasses with whipped cream on top and I thought it was so special and then of course in Blighty one has Chivers jellies (now changing to Hartley's - what is the world coming to?) at home on a Sunday afternoon - how could you not love something so wiggly that comes in only beautiful jewel colours and sparkles in the sunshine.
 And then for blancmange - first of all I like saying the word (it means white eat in French) and again my Mum was the source of my delight for this - she used to whip them up in plain round bottom bowls or rabbit shaped moulds and when they plopped out of the 'mould' their surface was perfect and smooth and they also wiggled a little too - but less than the jelly - THUS how could I not want to do them together? 
I will make my story short but first off I wanted to do the Blancmange with cornflour (cornstarch in the US) just as I had seen my Mum do it many years ago and I thought "HUH this'll be a breeze, a doddle, dead easy" - I'll have the blog post up well in time for Valentine's Day - ah pride does seem to come before a fall. I made my first one and it didn't set so I made a second and it didn't set so I reheated it and cooked it a little longer and still it didn't set so I did research on the web only to find that cornflour can be very finicky - don't cook it too long it will not set, don't cook it too short it will taste bad, don't taste it while it is cooking and put the spoon back in as the saliva will make it break, don't stir it too hard that will make it break, how old is your batch - over a year and it will not set and on and on and on so I gave up and went to the trusty gelatin which I didn't want to use but now I see why nearly every recipe I found called for gelatin - it is an animal product so vegetarians can't us it but agar agar can be used in a different quantity and achieve wigglier but delightful results - the recipe here will be for gelatin though! PHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND GOOD LUCK WITH THIS!! 

 Always read through the recipe at least once before you start so you know what's involved and in what order - especially so with this particular one!!

24 fl oz whole milk
4 oz toasted almonds broken into pieces (I bought whole ones - I did not skin them - if you want a perfectly white blancmange you do need to blanch and skin them - I put them in a plastic bag and pounded them with a big rolling pin until they were in smallish pieces.
2 1/2 oz white sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract/essence
1 packet of Knox gelatin (weight = 1/4oz)

FIRSTLY - take 8 fl oz of the milk - add the broken almonds and sugar and bring to a very gentle boil - take off the heat and leave almonds to soak for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

Take a clean napkin or tea towel, rinse in warm water and line a sieve or colander with it and set over a bowl - pour almonds and milk into the this and let the milk drain through - you wet the fabric in order to help the liquid seep through more easily.

HAVE YOUR 'MOULDS' READY - either little bowls or decorative moulds - I used 3 small pudding bowls - about 1 cup/10 fluid ounce size - rinse them with cold water.

When you have your almond milk pour it back in with the other 16 fl oz and make it back up to 24 fl oz as you will have lost some with the draining etc.

Put 16 fl oz of the almond milk on to heat over a low flame - in the meantime:

Put the other 8 fl oz of the cold almond milk into a shallow bowl and gently scatter the gelatin over the surface as evenly as you can - then very gently mix evenly in and leave for one minute.

When the milk in the pan just comes to a simmer stir in the gelatin mix and stir consistently until the gelatin has dissolved - DON'T boil as the milk might break but do get as hot as you can without boiling - it should take about three minutes for the gelatin to 'melt'.

Take off the heat and cool a little - I added ONE drop of red dye to make it a pale pale pink - and then pour into your moulds leaving room for the jelly - which will only be about 3/4" deep. Put in the fridge to cool for at least 3 hours or overnight.

JELLY PART (do this when the blancmange part is already set and nice and cold) - you can use a package jelly/jell-o for convenience or drive yourself nuts as I did and make your own - which I have to be completely honest and say it was fun to make but flavourwise not worth the bother!! :(((((((((((

1 package gelatin powder - 1/4oz
1 package frozen raspberries - 10 oz - or fresh 10 oz
1- 2 oz sugar depending on your taste - I used 1 oz and it was sweet enough for me but I like subtle and was hoping for more raspberry flavour to come through.

Let raspberries defrost if frozen - scatter sugar over raspeberries - let them macerate for an hour or so and then mash with about 3oz water.

Strain raspberries through a fine sieve to get 8 fl oz juice  - you can use the leftover raspberry solids to mix with cream and it's delicious on the side with your Blancmange!

Heat 6 fl oz raspberry juice in a pan over low heat til simmering as above.

Meantime take the other 2 fl oz cold raspberry juice and put in a shallow bowl and sift the gelatin over as above - let sit for one minute.

Add cold juice with gelatin into hot and continue to cook until gelatin is dissolved.

Allow to cool and pour over the blancmange layer - let cool for at least 3 hours in fridge until well set.

Now here's the real fun part - have a bowl of very hot water ready - take the puddings from the fridge, run a thin sharp knife around the edges of the puddings to help encourage them out of their moulds and one by one pop into the hot water bath - let sit about 10-15 seconds and then invert on to the serving plate and pray - if it doesn't plop out gently lift one side and sometimes you'll see the jelly start to shift - it seems to help get air in and then set back on the plate and wait for the plop - you may need to heat it more than once - it's hard to say. Don't worry if to get it out the blancmange melts a little on the surface that's just par for the course sometimes - quick pop it back into the fridge to reset for a few minutes.

Now decorate as you wish - I choose whipped sweetened cream and little sugar hearts from Cupcake Social. I LOVE the way my little pudding looks but I have to say it didn't taste like the childhood memory I have longed for - but does anything ever reach that acme of perfection - the blancmange had a nice pleasant almond flavour but not brilliant - I am so pleased with the photos I got though as they are a delightful subject for a painting and a future fabric design for my Spoonflower shop...yea!!!
(June what do you think of this as a design??)
Aren't whipped cream stars just beautiful?

"A quaking white confection that masquerades under a bogus foreign title but is quite unknown in the whole gastronomic repertory of the French' 
- so says Sir Francis Osbert Sacheverell Sitwell, 5th Baronet of the humble Blancmange - how rude Osbert!!

Quite frequently in English literature one is said to quake like a blancmange!
Have a lovely day one and all - let me know if you try this recipe - Cheers, Patricia 
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