(THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Can you believe it is really food?
You may think they are elaborate ornaments with vividly coloured flowers inside a transparent piece of glass or plastic. But both the flowers and the “containers” are actually jelly - a new type of dessert dubbed a “flower jelly” in Japan.
Jelly cakes with flowers can be a delightful addition to meals, particularly in summer, thanks to their cool appearance.
Flower jelly appears to require skilled pastry techniques, but it is not difficult to make this artistic dessert. Even complete beginners can make a simple one in only 10 minutes, according to Ms Misaki Tanabe, a cake designer who promotes flower jelly through workshops for novices.
“Making flower jelly (also) requires fewer ingredients and tools compared with baking regular cakes,” she said.
To make this dessert, you should prepare two types of jelly: a base jelly, or the equivalent to a sponge cake base, and coloured jelly to make flower petals and leaves.
The base jelly is 2 to 3cm thick and made of vegetable jelly mix, labelled “agar” in Japan, that is mainly made from edible seaweed and can become solid at ambient temperature. To make the base jelly, mix the jelly mix with water and heat until the mix dissolves. Add sugar or something similar to give it flavour. Pour the mixture into a mold and let it set.
Coloured jelly can be made by dissolving the mix and gelatin in milk before colouring it with food dye to make your favourite flowers.
A basic procedure for making flowers is to make slits inside the jelly base with a special spoon and inject coloured jelly using a pipette into each of the slits.
There are various special spoons with different shaped tips to make the flower petals of your choice, such as those for cherry blossoms, roses, cosmos, carnations and more. They can be found at stores that sell confectionery tools or purchased online.
For pipettes, syringes with a needle for refilling cosmetics - which can also be found at stores - are easy to use, said Ms Tanabe.
She recommends beginners make a jelly cake with a marguerite flower because of the bloom's simple shape. Even if you do not have a special spoon, you can use a crab spoon instead.
1. Using a 2cm-wide ring-shaped cookie-cutter, push the cutter into the centre of the base jelly to make a round cut 3mm deep.
2. Put yellow jelly into a syringe and inject it around inside the cut section.
3. Stick a spoon into the edge of the round part at an angle to make seven slits so that they fan out around the centre like petals.
4. Use a syringe to inject white jelly into the seven slits.
5. To make a second petal layer, stick a spoon through the edge of the round part again to make slits in between the previous petals.
6. As a finishing touch, fill the round part with yellow jelly to make it look like the centre of a flower.