I swear every week these get harder – not just harder but more deceptive. Blancmange didn’t seem like it would be too much of a problem. I’ve made jelly before and in my head blancmange just seemed like jelly with cream in it.
Part of my problem is that every week I go off-piste a little bit. Just enough to mess things up in such a way that they’re still tasty, they’re just not right.
This week I went for frozen raspberries instead of fresh because money, and swapped gelatine for veggie gel because vegetarian. Pretty sure the latter was my downfall.
The outcome as you will see, wasn’t quite what was expected. My blancmange wasn’t going to look like the fantastic ones on the Bake Off anyway – it was supposed to be MORE awesome because I used the brain jelly mould. Here’s one I made earlier from shop jelly crystals (many years earlier for a Halloween party…)
The very first step of the recipe is “Soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl of chilled water for 5 minutes”. It started going wrong for the VERY FIRST STEP. Instead I poured my veggie gel powder into some water and kinda left it there until it was needed.
Next was the blitzing of the fruit, which I ended up actually leaving until after I’d cooked dinner because the fruit was frozen so at first I ended up with a kind of sorbet. I’m sure that would also be delicious, but wasn’t the plan in this recipe so I left it to defrost for a while before attempting to squidge it through a sieve.
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I’m not very patient when it comes to sieving stuff, and am often very defiant when recipes call for sieved flour. This time round I didn’t have much of a choice though, since I didn’t want raspberry seeds in my blancmange. I HAD to squidge that gloop through the teeny-tiny holes. It took ages of stirring and pushing. At least it felt like ages. Not gonna lie, at the time seeds in my blancmange didn’t seem like such a bad idea. That would have been a terrible idea though really.
Oh, I also didn’t put any raspberry liqueur in because sod buying a whole bottle for the sake of 50ml in a recipe.
Next it’s time to heat milk, cornflour, sugar and ground almonds in a pan. Ground almonds were a bit of a surprise ingredient but I went with it.
Anyone who’s ever made a white sauce knows the importance of mixing the flour in with a bit of milk first to stop it going lumpy. Luckily I am a huge fan of macaroni cheese, else I would have definitely skipped that and ended up with the lumpy blancmange. Why do I assume I can be a badass in the kitchen and defy recipes? It never ends well.
The Gelatine Debacle
Once all this is mixed up and hot you then remove it from the heat and add the gelatine. Yes, the gelatine. This is one of those rare times that I can look back and pinpoint the exact moment everything went wrong. I microwaved the vege gel and water mixture I’d mixed up earlier. In another, wildly similar, baking incident I learnt that you must heat the vege gel to boiling point to have any hope of it ever turning to gel. But also once you’ve done that it WILL turn to gel RIGHT NOW, so you gotta act fast,
I don’t think the fact that the vege gel solution added more liquid to the mixture helped either. Nothing about the vege gel helped.
In I poured my (probably) boiled vege gel. It had already started to lump up a bit so I was optimistic that the whole thing would eventually become one big brain shaped lump of blancmange.
I then mixed in the raspberry juice from earlier and poured the whole lot into the brain mould. It fitted perfectly. At the moment, I knew for sure I had Done Good and that it would Definitely Work.
Langues de chat
These are little biscuits that look like cat tongues – langues de chat translates literally to “cat tongues”. As a cat mum and crazy cat lady, I LOVE little cat tongues, especially in edible biscuit form.
These were fairly straightforward to make. I’ve made biscuits in their various forms probably a hundred times, and all you gotta do is cream the sugar and butter together then mix the rest of the stuff in.
To get the shape of the cat tongues, the mixture needed piping using a CIRCLE nozzle. Of course I can’t read so I used a star one and realised far too late that these are not Viennese whirls. No drama though, they just came out a bit oddly shaped in some places. We don’t discriminate cats for their oddly shaped tongues in this house, so it’s totally fine.
Two of them came out even funnier looking than the rest because I forgot to tap the bottom of the tray before baking. This is annoying because not only does the recipe specifically say to do this, but I KNOW from actual experience to do this. Nevermind, still taste good.
Yet another example of me being stingey with the ingredients. I got the white chocolate to do the fancy diagonal dip, but not on your nelly was I going to buy green cocoa butter. The green lines across the middle got left off and I am very much okay with that.
I melted my chocolate in the microwave in 30 second blasts to make sure it didn’t burn. This is the one part I did actually totally right, so well done me.
I dipped my cooled cat tongues in my little bowl of white chocolate very carefully and didn’t lose a single one. See, I can be delicate!
Then I very indelicately finished off the chocolate that remained in the bowl.
The Turning Out of the Brain
As I mentioned earlier, after the Grand Pouring I was sure that the Grand Turning Out would be the Grandest Of All.
It was less of a Grand Turning Out and more of a Mighty Splooge. To its credit though, the splooge brain did not go over the edges of the plate and create a mighty mess. It held some semblance of shape, even if that shape was purest nonsense.
I was still determined to serve my housemates a delicious Bake Off treat, so I popped it in separate bowls and prettied it up a bit.
Despite its unexpected shape and consistency, the blancmange was actually really tasty. I think it tasted exactly as it should, it just needed more vege gel to make the brain shape hold itself.
The langues de chat were delicious, especially dipped into the blancmange. I kinda want to give it another go and see if I can make it work properly with the vege gel. vegetarian jelly is a thing so it must be possible.
Next week is SPICE WEEK and as the spicy bean I am very excited about that!