Frosted summer berries, ruby jelly and a dreamy layer of vanilla pannacotta. Usher in a touch of glam this Christmas with a luscious summer dessert. Irresistibly light with a tender wobble, just as you’d expect from any well-behaved jelly. Made from bubbly red Grapetiser and Crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), this jello crown provides a sparkling contrast to the rich vanilla pannacotta layer. For a smooth and creamy finish to your festive table, why not try a make-ahead dessert that’ll leave you relaxed and your guests serenely satisfied in the best possible way.
Jelly and custard has been a regular ‘guest’ at most family dinner tables since 19 – long ago. As children we always looked forward to eating brightly coloured packet jellies with that very yellow runny custard swimming around in the bowl. There were plenty of these to go around, especially on holidays at my Gran’s house in Worcester, a quaint little town in the Cape where the summer temperatures soared to the mid 40ºC. Jelly’s also been used successfully to coerce children into eating weird looking green things on their plates before the reward of a delightfully cool wobbly pud would be permitted to pass their lips. J & C shone brightly as the national hero of cold puddings – child friendly, easy and affordable. If this were not enough, it was firmly cemented as the official dessert on every hospital menu throughout the land until forever! Quite a shame really. Being force-fed your favourite dessert when you feel like you have one foot in the grave does little to re-inforce positive affections. Needless to say, packet jelly and neon yellow powered custard fell out of favour for a season. But then…. re-emerging from the darkness comes 100% fruit and champagne jellies with an upscaled custard, in the form of pannacotta creams. Made with authentic Madagascan vanilla beans, no less. Hello old friend x 10! Spoons at the ready ….
Versatility is key when it comes to food and so it is with the recipe for this jelly. Substitute the grape juice with your favourite fruit juice or champagne. If you intend serving this dessert to small humans, omit the liqueur and simply increase the amount of juice. For a strictly adult version, Prosecco or a fruity rosé is sure to impress. I always make double and throw in handfuls of seedless grapes to one quantity and serve with homemade custard or honeyed Greek yoghurt when I feel the need to be virtuous.
Sparkling grape jelly pannacotta
6 gelatine leaves
500ml red Grapetiser
3 tablespoons castor sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
45ml crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)
5 gelatine leaves
500ml fresh cream
1 vanilla pod, scraped
110 ml castor sugar
For the jelly, start by soaking the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 -8 minutes. In the meanwhile, heat 250ml of the Grapetiser, castor sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring up to the boil and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat. Squeeze excess water out of the gelatine and add to the hot grape juice. Stir through until the gelatine is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 250ml Grapetizer and liqueur to the warm juice and stir through gently to retain some of the bubbles. Pour into a mould and refrigerate until set.
To make the pannacotta, soften the gelatine as per above. In a saucepan, heat together the cream, vanilla seeds and castor sugar. Bring the mixture up to the boil. Remove from the heat. Gently squeeze the excess water from the softened gelatine and add to the hot cream. Whisk the mixture until the gelatine is completely dissolved. Set the cream aside to cool for at about 20 minutes before pouring over the set jellies. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.
To serve, un-mould by dipping into boiling water. Invert onto a serving platter and decorate with frosted berries.