It’s been said many times by numerous food bloggers (including myself) that inspiration is gathered for individual posts through life experiences. This inspiration is then conveniently turned into the subject of our posts; whether it may be a strawberry cream cake that reminds us of childhood birthdays, a hearty winter soup that allows us to become reminiscent of long-drawn winter days spent doing homework, or a fresh spring salad that allows us to celebrate a hopeful beginning to a new and much awaited season.
But as we know, that’s not always the case. Inspiration is not always reachable, no matter how much you gaze at the beautiful life around you seeking for it. There are times when it simply leaves you and you shouldn’t blame yourself for it.
Sometimes you are compelled to dig for it. Sometimes you are urged to dig deeply for it. But you soon realize that you’re better off not forcing such creative awakening to come to you, because you know that it’ll return strongly when you least expect it. It will come back solidly and forcefully and you will know exactly what to do with it, even if you are unsure of its origin.
This week, I waited discretely and patiently. The little bit of inspiration that struck me made me wrap my head around white wine sangria jelly shots. I can’t really say why my mind got stuck to this idea, but it did.
I do believe that inspiration came in one form or another from some unknown place. Was it the fresh strawberries sitting on my kitchen counter that drove me in this direction? Was it the nice time I had with Mark the night before while sipping on a few glasses of refreshing white wine on the rooftop?
It doesn’t really matter. I’m just thankful that it came.
White Wine Sangria Jelly Shots
1 cup finely chopped fruit (strawberries, apple, peach, and orange)
1 oz (2 tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus 2 teaspoons
1 oz (2 tablespoons) water
2 oz (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
2 small mint sprigs
3 thick strips of orange peel
8 oz (1 cup) Riesling wine
1 ¾ oz (about 1/4 cup) brandy
5 oz (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) sugar
4 teaspoons agar agar powder
1. Place finely chopped fruit in a small bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to fruit. Stir to combine.
2. If using silicon molds, place molds over a baking sheet tray. This will allow molds to hold in place and be stable when moving them. Place a few pieces of finely chopped fruit on the base of the molds.
3. Combine water, orange juice, and 1 oz (2 tablespoons) of lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer. Add 1 sprig of mint and strips of orange peel to mixture. Cover saucepan with a lid and infuse for about 15 minutes.
4. Muddle half the amount of the finely chopped fruit and the remaining sprig of mint in a cocktail shaker until the fruit and mint leaves release their juices. Add wine and brandy to cocktail shaker. Shake for approximately one minute and set aside.
5. Once infusion time is over, remove mint sprig and strips of orange peel from saucepan. Add sugar to sauce pan and bring mixture to a simmer.
6. Once mixture comes to a simmer, add a little bit of agar agar while whisking continuously until the entire amount has been added and dissolved. Bring mixture to a rapid boil. (Note: Bringing mixture to a simmer will not be enough in order for it to set later. Agar agar sets at a higher temperature than gelatin and requires a rapid boil in order for it to activate). Remove from heat.
7. Strain muddled mixture into saucepan so that it combines with water/sugar/orange and lemon juice mixtures. Stir to combine.
8. Pour mixture into a glass measuring cup or any appliance that eases pouring. Pour mixture into silicon molds or loaf pan.
9. Add additional finely chopped fruit to molds or loaf pan.
10. Place molds in refrigerator and rest for approximately 2 hours. To serve, simply unmold jellies and cut them into desired shapes.
Layer jellies in a Tupperware with parchment or wax paper separating each layer. Store in fridge for 2-3 days. You can also freeze jellies for about 2 months so that the fruit contained in them keeps longer, but the jellies themselves won't freeze due to the alcohol content.
Special equipment: Two 24-cavity flexible silicon molds or 1 lb loaf pan.
I used agar agar in this recipe. Agar agar is a “vegetarian gelatin” and it is derived from South East Asian seaweed. Agar agar is a traditional substitute for gelatin. The same amount of powdered agar agar can be substituted for powdered gelatin in a recipe. For example, one teaspoon of agar agar can be used in place of one teaspoon of powdered gelatin and vice versa. If you do not wish to use agar agar for this recipe, you may use powdered gelatin as well.
A cocktail shaker is recommended in this recipe. However, if you don’t have one, a tall container with a lid may work as well. Just be sure to hold the container tightly closed while shaking it.