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Giving Thanks...for Gelatin


Yet another gelatin post?


Does Kelp leave the house?

(No, very rarely. But she should be at the Holiday Pop-up this December 11th~12th!)

Did you know that the title of this blog post isn't really alliterative, as the letter 'g' is used in American English both to represent a voiced velar oral stop [g], as in 'give', and for a voiced postalveolar affricate [dʒ], as in 'gelatin'?


Did you also know that the word 'judge' starts and ends with that same affricate consonant?


Did you also know this is why every time I heard the ad for the movie "Django" proudly declare "There's no d in Django" I would yell out loud at my phone screen "YES, THERE IS!"


Anyways, um, gelatin! Regardless of what you do or do not celebrate this time of year, many of us are subject to a rapid increase of Dessert, many of which may contain some sort of thickening agent. Let's get the Big One out of the way...


Cranberry "Sauce" (Jelly)


I've heard it's now a 'hot take' amongst the youngsters to declare can-shaped store-bought cranberry sauce as The Better One, actually, but really most homemade cranberry sauce is not at all the same dish. Like apples and oranges, except...oops, all cranberries.

A can of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
Never noticed that lil' barn in the sea of blood...

The Cranberry Kings, Ocean Spray (now see that nickname IS alliterative cuz..sorry), proudly declare you can make their recipe for a fresh sauce in 20 minutes, and that's the dead giveaway - it's not a gel! But the one in the can is. Hence, "Jellied Cranberry Sauce". So in order to 'homemake' the kind in the can from scratch, it's gonna take more than 20 minutes, and it HAS to be served cold, otherwise you'll melt it out of shape. (Still tastes fine. Just no jiggle.) But it's also a long, stovetop process to make, and my food mill already has a date with a pot full of boiled yams on winter feast days, so we stick with the canned stuff. Look for recipes for Cranberry Jelly if you want to mold up your own version. The pectin in the cranberries should do the gel job okay, but you can use liquid pectin if you want a jelly that's sure to set.


Thanksgiving Pudding


Everyone knows this seasonal classi- oh? You've never heard of it? No, it's not meat-flavored! Then it would be an Aspic, not a Pudding. (I am still planning to make a Chaudfroid at some point.)

A molded opaque brown pudding, garnished with whipped cream and whole pecans.
Air bubbles are the bane of my existence with these things...

As soon as October ended, a single thought entered my mind: "Should I make that 1930's Knox Gelatine recipe that literally has Thanksgiving in the name?"


Well reader, I sure did. I have a rule of thumb not to make anything I know ahead of time I won't personally like - this disqualifies a lot of savories (fish allergy), as well as some desserts (e.g., not a coffee fan). Looking at the ingredients, I immediately saw prunes, juice and all, and I knew from a previous recipe that prune juice doesn't taste bad to me per se, but...it's a lot. However, I also saw chocolate, and figured this dessert deserved a chance, especially given that I planned to omit the chopped prunes and just use the canned juice I already had on hand. My initial taste tests yielded cautious optimism...and the final result is certainly OK. Basically a spiced chocolate sponge, with chopped pecans. But I wouldn't make it again, and I'm pessimistic I'll be able to use the rest of my prune juice in any subsequent recipe, as that strong sweetness was definitely Still There. If you like prunes, by all means...


Recipe

1 tbsp Knox Gelatine

¼ cup cold water

1¼ cup prune juice

½ cup sugar (could likely reduce)

1 oz unsweetened chocolate*

1 cup cream or evaporated milk

Whole cloves

Cinnamon stick

¾ cup prunes (optional...)

½ cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Salt to taste


Soak gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes. If using cooked prunes, drain juice thoroughly. Heat juice with sugar, chocolate, six cloves, and a 3-inch stick of cinnamon. Strain out spices, whisk in soaked gelatine until thoroughly dissolved, and cool. Meanwhile, beat cream or evaporated milk until stiff. Once gelatine mixture is slightly thickened, fold in whipped cream, chopped nuts, and chopped prunes. Pour into mold and chill until set.


*The original recipe merely said "1 square chocolate", which is how I found out Baker's chocolate has been around for a very, very long time, and so combined with the added sugar, I was confident they meant 1 oz unsweetened. However, I actually used Ghirardelli brand, as that was the only one in stock, and theirs is 2 squares to an oz. So, uh, double-check and adjust as needed.


Pudding Parfait

Well, no need to pull your leg this time, now we're talking a real seasonal classic. There's one grain that defines November, a sweet cereal crop that's just everywhere. Perfect for savories and desserts, just incredibly versatile. And what better way to showcase it, than a molded rice pudding!

A molded rice pudding with a brown-ish tinge
Been eating a lot of pecans lately...

Okay, okay, hear me out - my dad really likes rice pudding. And it's not NOT seasonal. So I wanted to try one of the several rice dessert recipes in my Knox Gelatine cookbook, and settled on this "Rice Parfait" for two reasons:

  1. The ingredients most closely resembled a traditional rice pudding recipe - one of the other entries was clearly just a Bavarian Cream plus rice, for instance.

  2. It had a "Maple" version, which meant that I got a second opportunity to make another Extremely Brown Dessert.

So how was it? Well, I have bad news: I spaced out when adding the rice to my rice cooker, and it ended up a bit chewy. So, don't do that. I think even if the rice is cooked properly, it won't end up as smooth as one you spent a long time at the stove tending to. (Which is next on my to-do list...) Oh, and no raisins in this one, if that's your thing. But otherwise, I think it came out fine, save for being a bit on the sweet side for me. Honestly, I was most excited that it came out even more Brown looking than the recipe above. Perfect for that vintage food photography aesthetic. It's fairly unremarkable as a recipe, but I'll leave it here for the curious.


Recipe

1 tbsp Knox Gelatine

2 cups hot boiled rice (white, medium grain is best)

1½ cups milk

1 cup cream

1 cup chopped nut meats (optional)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup sugar (maple or brown can be used instead)

¼ tsp salt


Soak gelatine in milk about five minutes and dissolve in hot rice. Add salt and sugar. (Kelp tip: I found mine a bit sweet. Reduce to taste.) Beat cream, with vanilla added* until stiff. When rice mixture is cool, fold in whipped cream, and add nut meats. Pour into a mold, and chill**. When firm, unmold and serve with chocolate, pineapple, or any fruit sauce.


*The original recipe has you add the vanilla with the nuts. I hate folding. I think you should be able to add it earlier no problem.

**Original seems to have you freeze the mixture...while it doesn't set up super firm, I was able to get a good enough set in a metal mold in my admittedly very cold refrigerator.

Well, that does it for my monthly gelatin journey - this weekend I will start preparing for my actual journey to our Holiday Pop-Up! I look forward to getting a Japanese-style dessert crepe two days in a row, something I haven't accomplished since I lived in Kyoto. I know I'll see many of you there (I mean, we sold out the room block. Twice.) and I look forward to helping you buy things In Person.