The chosen fruit for this month’s AFAM, as hosted by Sig of Live to Eat is the Lychee. I grew up eating a lot of lychees as a kid, and seeing them served in chinese restaurants with cubes of cold almond jelly as a dessert – and so was pretty amazed to discover last year that one of my co-workers had never tasted a lychee before. We plied her with a handful of the fruit and after a few tastings, she agreed that they were pretty nice, and likened them to being somewhat grapelike in flavour.
I love lychees, and was recently inspired by two things that led to my decision to participate in this event.
First item of inspiration came from this book and a picture of a lychee and ice-wine jelly with coconut and lime. Refreshing, clean flavours and lovely simple presentation. Then I watched Great British Menu, in which chef Mark Hix made an absolutely tantalising jelly out of perry and mixed berries, with elderflower ice-cream. Keiko of Nordljus recreated the recipe on her blog, using elderflower mousse instead of ice-cream with equally gorgeous results.
Enough procrastinating, I simply had to follow suit! In my version, I used less gelatine because the first time I made this, it turned out quite firm. If the jellies are being served set in their bowls, they can afford to be a little more …wobbly. Also, as lychees are already quite sweet, I reduced the amount of sugar in the jelly. If you’d rather stick with the original recipe, it’s available here.
Perry, a pear based cider, is not to be found in any Sydney bottle shop I’ve visited. As for apple cider, virtually only one brand is available in most places. Apparently Sydney isn’t mad for cider (even if I am). I used Strongbow Draft, for this jelly. If you can find something a bit more interesting in flavour, by all means use it. What you’ll end up with is a very delicious and refreshing jelly.
Cider Jelly with Lychees :
5 gelatine leaves (gold strength), bloomed
1 tin lychees, drained (or fresh, if in season)
Heat 150ml of the cider and the sugar in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring almost to the boil, drain and squeeze the gelatine leaves, then add to the hot cider and stir until melted.
Remove from the heat, add the rest of the cider, stirring. Put the pan of jelly aside to allow it to cool a little.
Divide the lychees among your jelly moulds – I used 6 glass bowls for this, and got 3-4 lychees per bowl (some only had 3 because I did a lot of vigorous taste testing..). Pour in a third of the cooled jelly. Chill for an hour or so to set, then top up with the unset jelly. Chill several hours until completely set.