Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quivering With Passion Jellies: A Little Romance From Nigella

With Valentine's Day looming on the horizon this week, our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is appropriately A Little Romance. To be honest I am not a huge fan of the holiday, maybe due to my inability to sustain long-term romantic relationships, but that's a story for my therapist not for my blog! ;-) My best Valentine's Day ever? It was back when I was working in the International department of a the giant coffee empire. When we traveled internationally we were booked in coach with "possible" upgrades "when available" with an airline that carried said coffee brand. Well available upgrades were pretty rare so we usually ended up stuck in coach--not fun when you travel often and long distances for business. So it was Valentines Day and I was scheduled to fly to Tokyo and (surprise!) no upgrades came through so I had a stop in San Francisco, a center seat in coach, and a very grumpy attitude. That morning San Fran was fogged in and the flight there delayed for several hours, and since I was in danger of missing my connection, the airline sent me, voucher in hand over to Continental who had a direct flight about to take off. When I walked up to the desk at the gate and handed my voucher in, the attendant looked at it and said "Well today is your lucky day! We are out of Coach seats and you are now in First Class." (Not Coach, not Business Class mind you, but First Class). "You are in First Class"--are there any five more beautiful words in the English language? I think not. So there I am, seated in my comfy, large, plenty of leg room, fully-reclining seat, sipping a glass of champagne and perusing the lunch menu, and the flight attendant brought out a little cart of movies for my in-seat player and had me pick a couple. Later on after being well fed, well beveraged, and even plied with an ice cream sundae for dessert, they brought wrapped boxes of chocolate out for us, since we had to fly on Valentine's Day. Alternating between naps fully reclined, movies and multiple feedings, I had a restful flight, and as we were getting ready to land the flight attendants brought out roses for everyone and one even gave me an unopened bottle of champagne "for my hotel room." Yep, the day didn't involve any romance, but it had many of the important elements; flowers, chocolate and champagne so I was happy.

I think Valentine's Day calls for a little indulgence--for me that is usually chocolate, but the title of Nigella's Quivering With Passion Jellies, was so fun, I had to make it. The fact that I am a fan of passionfruit and cloud-like whipped cream just sealed the deal. I have made two of Nigella's other syllabub recipes in the past (Turkish Delight and Calvados) and love the frothy, creamy treat, so having a layer of it on top of a gelatin made with passionfruit and white wine sounded perfect to me. (And the fact that it serves 2, makes for good portion control and good for my willpower, which can disappear when sweets are involved). The recipe can be found in Nigella's "Feast" on pages 148 & 149.

Nigella says, "You can make this the day before, or at least the jellied part, which should make life easier. The only thing to remember is that they must come out of the fridge in good time to come to room temperature otherwise that voluptuous, inner-thigh wobble will be lost."

Quivering With Passion Jellies
"Feast" by Nigella Lawson
(Serves 2)

For the Jellies:
3/4 cup white wine
1 cup passionfruit pulp and seeds (about 5 fruits)
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 gelatin sheet

For the Syllabub Topping:
2 passionfruit
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp white wine
1/3 cup heavy cream

Bring the wine and seeds and pulp of the passion fruit to a boil in a saucepan, then take off the heat and stir in the sugar. Pour through a sieve into a glass measuring cup to strain, discarding the seeds and pulp.

Soak the gelatin in cold water until soft--I just use a small oblong dish filled with about 1 1/2 inches cold water from the tap--then wring it out and whisk into the strained liquid. Pour the mixture into two glasses and put in the fridge to set. I don't bother with wine glasses or anything fancy-looking; in fact I rather prefer the jellies in the very plain glasses you see, and which are cleaned, empty jars minus their lids.

When the jellies have set, remove them from the fridge and start on the topping. You can either top them before dinner and let them get to room temperature in their entirety, or let them sit and have the chill taken off before you spoon over the syllabub-like mixture. Either way, scoop out the seeds and pulp of the 2 remaining passionfruit into a bowl with the confectioner's sugar and wine and stir to mix. Add the cream and gently whip until you have a soft and floaty aerated mass to dollop on top of each of the fragrant jellies.

Nigella's Note: "If you want to pair down all activities, you can make a passionfruit fool or syllabub--truly, it's somewhere in the middle--by dispensing with the jelly bit and augmenting the quantities of cream to 1 cup, passionfruit to 6, confectioner's sugar to 1/3 cup and wine to 3 tablespoons, or better still, replace with Southern Comfort. The method is much the same; mix passionfruit, sugar and liqueur in a bowl and then pour in cream and whisk until you have requisite floaty mass and divide between two glasses."

Notes/Results: Delicious--a combination of creamy-sweet and slightly tart. I used the passionfruit we have in Hawaii (called lilikoi here), they are similar to the purple passion fruit you may be more familiar with, except usually a bit larger and a bit more tart. We do see purple ones here too, but I mostly find the yellow ones. (Here's a picture from a Lilikoi Curd post if you want to see them). Since they are in season here, I got my seven needed for the recipe for $3.00--not too bad--could have made this one for last week's Budgets & Bargains theme! I used a package of gelatin granules instead of the gelatin sheet Nigella called for which worked fine and the jellies went together well. I did have a bit of a challenge with my syllabub, it was just not setting up at all when I whipped it and although it is not supposed to be firm, Nigella says it should be a "soft, floaty aerated mass" and this was more like a slightly thick creamy liquid goo. After a lot of mixing and finally determining it just wasn't going to set up, (I am thinking maybe I had more passionfruit pulp than Nigella intended since the lilikoi are slightly larger), I made a quick decision to whip up another 1/3 cup of cream with a bit of powdered sugar and get it a bit firmer than normal for syllabub. Then I folded the firmer whipped cream into my liquidy passionfruit mixture, and together they made just the right texture--floaty and aerated! ;-) The flavor was still delicious--I think with the strong flavor of the jellies, having less passionfruit flavor in the syllabub was a positive thing. Other than that brief detour it was a simple, straight forward recipe and I would make it again. I thought about putting them into a fancier glass but since Nigella uses a simple jar, I used some juice glasses with a similar look. If you can't find lilikoi where you live, a similar layered concoction with berries instead would be easy and fun to make in summer too.

You can see how the other IHCC participants found A Little Romance in their Nigella recipes by going to the IHCC site here and following the links to their posts.

How will you be celebrating Valentine's Day this year?


  1. "Inner thigh wobble" <- I love it!
    Such passionate and inviting jellies. I want so badly to be able to try them. I have never had passionfruit in any colour. Perhaps I should see if there is a flight down before you eat them both..
    The trip sounds like a great way to celebrate V-day, nice to be unexpectedly spoiled.. and paid for it!

  2. Oh Debi,that was suc a lovely trip surely.....i painted the whole loving picture with ur describtion...

    Love this exciting jelly ....would love to make this soon...and love ur heart shaped stirrers and red chocolates...cute...

  3. Such a lovely dessert! I love the passion fruit flavor and the creamy Syllabub topping!

  4. I love your pick for this theme and also those adorable heart shaped stirrers/spoons. Passion fruit comes to our Whole Foods for a very short time and is very expensive, but I do love the flavor of it- delicious and worth the money! These look gorgeous:D Happy Valentine's Day.
    P.S. I thought of you the other day when I was at Whole Foods. I bought this little Five Star chocolate bar up near the register. They have different flavors, but I chose granola and it was the best chocolate I've had in a long time. You should try one if you see them. I think it's called Five Star chocolate, and the granola one is delicious. Happy Valentine's Day!

  5. if only it were so easy to lose the inner thigh wobble! oh wait, we're talking about jellies. haha
    this looks wonderful!!

  6. Beautiful dessert Deb! And first class... oh yeah!

  7. Oh this sounds like heaven!!! I love passion fruit and lilikoi would be even better. I fell in love with lilikoi juice when I was in Florida, it has the best flavor. I am so envious to be able to have that at will - it is not something that you find in Missouri, heck Im not sure I have ever even seen fresh passion fruit. I am going to have to look because I have to make this treat! You aren't alone, I still havent found that someone either but sure can enjoy a good glass of wine and fresh fruit any day!

  8. I love passion fruit! You did a wonderful job!

  9. looks great! Once you ride 1st class it is hard to go back to coach! ;)

  10. I've always thought these looked wonderful, but the supply of passionfruit in this country is so limited that I would have to marry a Saachi to be able to afford it! I love the sound of your Valentine's Day flight. Unfortunately the only time I have been upgraded to first class I was traveling as an unaccompanied minor and they didn't give me champagne.

  11. I might have to try to fly on V-Day. Somehow. Some way. Just for the chance of "being plied with an ice cream sundae". Great story!

    These look delicious.

  12. looks great Deb have a lovely Valentines lol Rebecca

  13. What a great Valentine's Day story! Would have loved to have been put in first class. The passion fruit flavored dessert looks wonderful!

  14. What an unusual and unusually beautifully desserts. I'm charmed by those heart shaped spoons as well. I'll be this is outstanding! Lovely, Deb, just lovely. :)

  15. Oh, the perks of first class! I love these passion jellies - and your gorgeous pictures! So inviting!

  16. Wow really passionate jellies, loved all those clicks!!!

  17. Hi Deb,
    That a really nice story about V-day. ;)
    The jelly looked so inviting and delicious.


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