Book Review: Hello, Jell-o! by Victoria Belanger
Is your kitchen mould-free? Victoria Belanger will wake you up to the potential of gelled desserts in her new recipe collection, Hello, Jell-o!
Recently, a cheery little book waved at me from my public library shelf. On the cover is a truly kawaii treat: a lime-and-Jelly sculpture of a watermelon slice. Intrigued - and hungry! - I took this pink and green tome home with me, fully expecting to be underwhelmed once I got past the adorbs exterior.
This did not occur.
Reading Hello, Jell-o! (Ten Speed Press, 2012), Victoria Belanger's new book about gelatin-based desserts, to feel like I've really been missing a trick or two.
After all, I've been knocking myself out all these years, baking increasingly elaborate cakes for my parties. But Belanger's dessert recipes are so simple, cool to look at and - presumably - tasty, I think I may have to start looking into jelly moulds on Ebay. Yes, I was that impressed.
What's it about? Saying hello, again, to Jell-o (jelly in the UK). We all remember gorging ourselves on brightly colored jellies as kids. And some of us have made grown-up gelled desserts, such as Delia Smith's excellent Champagne-infused jelly. But it's rare to come across such a wide spectrum of gelatin-based recipes, with everything from a guilty pleasure root beer float jelly to a sophisticated (and vegan!) vanilla clementine panna cotta.
The intro: Belanger talks openly and honestly about one of her deepest desires: to impress her hyper-creative friends at Brooklyn dinner parties. It's a goal we all share, to some extent, no matter where we live. I just never figured that gelatin would be the answer. Berlanger promised that it would be, and I read on.
The projects: approximately fifty things you can do with gelatin, flavorings, and a mould. The range here is truly impressive, and offers a fun challenge. I'd love to serve Belanger's Classic Rainbow Mold at my next summer party - the sheer aesthetic pleasure of seeing all those colors on a plate would be worth the care necessary to make each layer perfectly even. Plus, you can't get more retro.
Belager's gelled Mojito is another I'd like to try (one of an entire chapter inspired by classic cocktails) - I love the contrast between the golden jelly and the carefully arranged mint leaves.
What else is there? An excellent guide to the techniques and tools you need to make these desserts, as well as a demystification of the un-molding process. For European readers, there's a handy conversion chart - no cups required!
Plus, the whole book was co-written by comedian Raquel D'Apice - if she's responsible for the book's endless one-liners and tongue-in-cheek approach to Jell-o, I salute her!
Craft type: Jell-o madness!