This isn't the first time I've posted a wine gelée. I'm crazy about them. I had an old Jamie Oliver recipe for an Elderflower/Prosecco gelée sitting on my desktop for ages and then while recently reading through Deborah Madison's dessert book, lo and behold there was a gelée and fruit recipe. I loved the way she presented it.... such a light and summery looking dessert. But I also preferred Jamie's idea of using elderflower liqueur (mainly because I have a lovely bottle of St~Germain) and Prosecco so I combined the two recipes. Whether that makes this my invention I have no idea, so consider them both credited for this recipe.
Let's talk a bit about elderflower liqueur. I splurged on a bottle originally because it was an ingredient in a very special mixed drink I was making for a luncheon. I've since been won over: try an Elderflower Martini; and Elderflower liqueur is lovely to sip by itself, but with a splash of champagne or club soda, yum. It's also wonderful poured over sorbet or vanilla ice cream. So many drinks, so little time. LOL.
There's an interesting story behind this particular liqueur. Please note that most of this information and the quaint photos are from the St~Germain website.
St~Germain is the first liqueur in the world created in the artisanal French manner from freshly handpicked elderflower blossoms. These fragile flowers begin to lose their delicate fragrance and flavor very quickly.
When the delicate, white elderflower blossoms are at their peak, men gather sacks of them from the foothills of the Alps. There is only a 2 to 3 week window of blossoming.
French farmers are organized to deliver sacks of the elderflower blossoms to local depots, some using specially rigged bicycles.
The flowers are sent to the distillery quickly and macerated—steeped in alcohol to absorb almost all of the aroma, flavor and color—in order to maximize freshness and flavor. The manufacturing process is secret, but involves eau de vie, distillation and the addition of citrus and cane sugar. Take a whiff and a lychee aroma hits you right away. Then there’s a bit of peach, some orange that evolves to grapefruit, and maybe some pear. Really, sheer heaven.
With this recipe, you'll find elderflower liqueur makes the wine gelée very special. I've made port wine gelées, white wine gelées, but until I came across Jamie's recipe, I had never thought of an elderflower and Prosecco combition. The Prosecco bubbles actually stay in the gelée and fizzes a bit in your mouth when you eat it. But what sold me on combining this with Deborah's idea was her cubing of the gelée. Brilliant idea. Larger molds are always pretty, but the fruit is forever popping to the top, unless you are extra cautious about not adding them until the gelée is nearly set. And then you have to worry about unmolding. An unmolded wine gelée has to be perfect. This is not rocket science, but Deborah's method is so much easier. And a tad more casual.
I sprayed a 9" square pan with Pam and then poured in the gelée mixture, covered and refrigerated it overnight. The next day, I took a sharp knife, cut around the pan and then cut the gelée in small cubes. I used a spatula to release them. You can use whatever fruits you like and as many as you like. And I liked the increased amount of sugar in Deborah's recipe...don't worry, it's still not that sweet. In fact, I really prefer a dollop of sweetened whipped cream on top of mine.
Elderflower and Prosecco Gelée With Fruit
1-1/2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin (1-1/2 tablespoons)
1/4 pint of elderflower liqueur
1-3/4 cups Prosecco
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup superfine sugar
Fresh fruit (I used mango, blackberries, raspberries, kiwi and blueberries)
Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water to soften. Heat the liqueur and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the softened gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat for a minute or so and then add the Prosecco. Immediately pour into a 9" square pan, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, use a knife to cut the gelée into squares and layer with fruits of your choice. Serve cold. Garnish with mint or a dollop of whipped cream.