Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mandarin Champagne Jelly

Christmas has come and gone once again. So much preparation, planning, shopping, baking, cooking, wrapping, and in one glorious, food-filled day, it's over. This year I had bronchitis to tend with while I celebrated, luckily my antibiotics kicked in just in time to allow me to enjoy the day. My Christmas was filled with delicious food from morning until late at night, family and friends and some lovely gifts, given and received. But this post, of course, is all about the food.

Usually, I plan more elaborate and rich Christmas desserts like cheesecakes, tortes and ice creams, but this year I wanted something a little more refreshing, and seeing as my brother and A were coming to our place for not only their second dinner of the night but their fifth meal of the day (!), I didn't want to make their last bite of the night painful. I had been watching Jamie's Christmas shows over the past few weeks, and one of his desserts appealed to me more than the others, Clementine Jelly. The only thing is, I'm not a huge fan of gelatine. I'm not going to go vegan on you, don't worry, and I'm not sworn off gelatine entirely, it has it's place, I just have a hard time getting past that very wet-dog/barnyard-y smell it releases when it's soaking. I've been wanting to try cooking with agar agar for a while anyways, so I thought I'd take Jamie's idea and make it my own. I also liked the thought of incorporating some champagne, to make it feel a little more grown up and festive and hopefully a bit bubbly. The result? A light, refreshing, delicious, and mildly bubbly, post-feast treat.

Mandarin Champagne Jelly

3 cups mandarin orange juice, freshly squeezed (I didn't count, but it was about half a box of Chinese mandarins)
1 cup champagne (Ok, I used sparkling wine)
2 tsp agar agar powder
pomegranate seeds for serving

Put the juice (and pulp) into a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the agar agar over top and whisk in. Bring to a gentle simmer, whisking, for about 5 minutes, until the agar agar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes while you decide what glasses you want to serve the jelly in. Pour the champagne over the warm mandarin juice and give a gentle whisk. Pour into glasses, (you can strain it into the glasses if you like. I only did this for one person, not naming names) cover and pop into the fridge to set for about an hour, they don't take long to set. I made mine the day before and they were perfect and made my life much easier on Christmas day! Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds before serving. Serves 6-8 depending on the size of your glasses.

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