It’s winter down here in Australia. It’s meant to be freezing. Here at the farm I have a wheelbarrow of hardwood at the back door, waiting to be fed into the fireplace. I have my warmest beanie and scarf, my big coat and my woolliest socks all sitting on my dresser.
None of them are needed.
Right now we’re having an unusual weather event. Warm air from the Coral Sea is being pushed down Australia’s East Coast, giving us balmy temperatures and gentle rains.
It is supposed to be dry right now. It is supposed to be COLD.
I, for one, am not complaining.
It is a strange but wonderful sensation to feel the kiss of balmy air upon your cheek mid-winter. And it makes me happy in another way… This air has recently been in the Solomon Islands. It feels like a magical bridge somehow. It gets me thinking of my friends Mike and Gracie, and their Island home on Gizo, where Ben and I were married many years ago. It brings to mind many happy adventures in the Pacific, and it makes my heart yearn for a little tropical flavour in my life.
The best I can come up with at short notice is home-made Mandarin and Coconut Jelly.
I always have coconut milk in the pantry, and right now my trees are groaning with fresh citrus. If you can’t get hold of mandarins use oranges, blood oranges, tangellos, limes or grapefruit. (Just check the tastes as you go in case you need to add more sugar for the less sweet fruit varieties!)
This is a delicious sweet – the mandarin layer is light and tangy, the coconut layer creamy and rich. It speaks to me of summer, but in winter it is the perfect dessert after a spicy curry.
Hints on Jelly Moulds:
This recipe will make approximately four cups of jelly. You can make it in one bowl, or several smaller moulds. This jelly is strong enough to be unmoulded and served on a plate. It is also useful made in a long tray and sliced into cubes or ribbons to serve a larger crowd.
Make sure to wet or lightly grease your moulds to help the jelly slide out easily when it is set.
Mandarin Jelly ingredients:
1 cup of fresh mandarin juice, 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons gelatin.
Put the gelatin in a bowl with the water and let it swell. Juice the mandarins. Place in a saucepan with the sugar, bring to the boil, and then simmer until it has reduced by about one third. Take off the heat. Now add in the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Pour into a greased jelly mould or two, and place in the fridge to set for about an hour. (If you’re in a hurry place in the freezer, but watch it closely!)
Coconut Jelly ingredients:
1 x 400ml can of coconut milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of gelatin and 1/4 cup water or for a more grown-up flavour use1/4 cup Malibu (coconut flavoured white rum)
Put the gelatin in a bowl with the water or Malibu and let it swell. Place the coconut milk in a saucepan with the sugar, heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat. Now add in the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool on bench while the mandarin jelly is setting. Once the first layer is firm, gently pour on top and return to fridge to set.
To serve, unmould onto a plate. This is lovely with passionfruit, or sliced fresh seasonal fruits. Also good with ice-cream or sorbet. If you can, try it with mango sorbet, or macadamia nut ice-cream. Or both. Heaven in a bowl.
This is so seriously easy, and so visually impressive – plus it packs a wallop of flavour. I hope you try it. Enjoy!