Yesterday was Mother’s Day and in honour of our mum, I rediscovered a childhood treat that I associate with her making for birthdays and special occasions: frothy jelly! Basically a mousse made with jelly and whipped evaporated milk, it was soft creamy love in a bowl especially when layered with regular jelly too and some fruit. I can still picture the bowl that got used to make it as I hovered round, hoping to get a sneaky taste before it hit the table and I had to go and put my best frock on.
Because I no longer get to wear patent leather shoes and velvet party dresses, I’ve updated this classic idea to make it as grown up as I am these days and made my own fruit jelly instead of using a packet one. At this time of year, the brightest splash of colour comes from the beautiful blood oranges that are currently in season and I couldn’t resist harnessing that for a dessert on such a drab grey weekend to make the jelly. I’ve written before that blood oranges and gin make a perfect pair, but this time since it was a special occasion, I decided to make it a Negroni jelly and add red vermouth and Aperol as well. It took the pain out of waiting for the evaporated milk to chill enough to whip to a proper level of fluff…
Blood Orange Negroni Jelly Mousse: serves 2
- 600ml blood orange juice (approx 6 oranges)
- 1 measure gin
- 1 measure red vermouth
- 1 measure Aperol or Campari
- 1/4 tin evaporated milk (approx 100g)*
- 4 leaves gelatine
Chill the can of evaporated milk overnight or pop in the freezer for an hour. In the meantime, juice your blood oranges and pass through a sieve to remove any pulp. It should be clear and the gorgeous ruby shade.
Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes, while heating the blood orange juice gently. Just as it comes to the boil, add the soaked leaves minus the water to it and heat slightly to activate the gelatine without boiling it too much. Take off the heat and mix in the booze. Pour 300ml of the jelly into glasses and allow to set.
Keep the other 300ml to one side and after about 30 minutes, check on it. When it is just about to set, but not so firm as to form lumps when you stir it, you’re ready to make your mousse. Using an electric whisk, beat the chilled evaporated milk until it is light, fluffy and bubbly and about twice the size, stir it into the remaining jelly. It will turn into the most perfectly princess pink mousse in seconds.
Pour on top on the plain blood orange jelly and chill for about an hour until completely set. The jelly will keep for several hours, overnight at most, but the mousse will start to flop if you leave it too long and you won’t get the same lovely contrast between the two layers.
This dessert looks delightfully cute in colour, but tastes very adult when you dip in. The blood orange jelly is sharp and refreshing and the mousse is soft and slightly sweet and both have a slight kick from the alcohol. It was exactly the reinvention of a childhood favourite I wanted!
*PS: there will be some leftover evaporated milk left over even if you buy a smaller tin, but I will be posting a recipe in the near future to use it up.