If you want to inject a tonne of fun into your gathering, you'll need jelly. You could wrestle in it, of course, but for the less athletic-minded a jelly-based dessert is just as entertaining.
Delightful jelly has been around a very long time, though not nearly as long as preserves. While pectin was setting jams in the Middle East sometime in the 11th century, it took the invention of gelatin by Denis Papin in 1682 to set jelly on its path to dessert heaven.
Thanks to Monsieur Papin, the world has been perfecting jelly recipes ever since.
Whether it's the familiar wibbly-wobbly jelly with only a hint of gelatin added, or a much more robust jello where a hearty helping of gelatin keeps things firm, there's a jelly recipe for every occasion.
This festive milk jelly ring is just as easy to prepare as traditional strawberries and cream, but a ton more exciting. The top layer of jelly is made out of pureed strawberries, and the bottom sweetened vanilla milk.
The key to this dish is simplicity, as it aims to extract the purest strawberry flavour from the berries, both in the form of juice and the roasted strawberry flesh. A touch of aniseed in the cream enhances the strawberry flavour even more. If this is your first attempt at a moulded jelly, opt for a thin metal or plastic mould, or even a flexible silicone mould. Older, ornate and heavier ceramic or glass moulds can be difficult to turn out.
Pedro Ximenez, a sweet Spanish sherry, flavours the jelly in this extravagantly layered dessert. Shortbread biscuits, dulce de leche cream, chocolate custard and toasted almonds stack to create spoonsful to remember.
A classic Aussie trifle is given a tropical twist with a mango and passionfruit jelly. Pavlova and two types of cream create the other layers, all topped with a pineapple, passionfruit and mango fruit compote to add plenty of amazing.
Our very favourite jelly would have to be Turkish delight. Such a genius move to layer it into a trifle with fresh fruit, custard and a rose-scented cream. It's a celebration in a trifle bowl.*
* By the way, if a dessert has a dedicated bowl, you know it's one of the best.
It's true that a trifle can be a trifle time consuming. But oh-so worth it. This Iced Vovo concoction is a case in point. Make it and weep happy tears while you eat.
Basbousa, revani, ravani – whichever name it goes by, this sugar syrup-laden semolina cake makes the perfect base for a trifle. Topped with traditional English custard, sour cherry jelly, meringue, cream and chocolate halva, this is definitely not your run-of-the-mill trifle! Start this recipe a day ahead to let the jelly set overnight. You will need a 19 cm x 29 cm lamington pan and a 5 litre glass bowl for this recipe.
Raspberries seem made for jelly. They go particularly well with a delicately flavoured and scented geranium jelly. Individual desserts make for easy serving at the table.
Inspired by the idea of Turkish delight, but with more subtle flavours, this is a simple and delicate dessert that highlights the floral flavour of the fruit. The silky jelly contains jewel-like pieces of lychee, with a slightly savoury and textural pistachio crumb.
Amp up the fun-factor of fresh passionfruit jelly by serving it in the shell. Such a great dessert idea for a large gathering - you can waltz around handing out jelly magic and soak up the accolades.
This Thai sweet uses agar-agar to set the jellies. It's a gelling agent made from red algae, making it a viable vegan alternative for gelatin in many recipes.
Jelly and cheesecake go together like gelatin and water. This version is made particularly festive via the green of gooseberries. They add a tartness to the jelly that perfectly balances the creaminess of the cheesecake.
This impressive recipe is based on a traditional French lemon meringue tart. A pastry base is filled with lime curd and coriander jelly. The herbal hit of the jelly cuts through the sweetness of the meringue and curd. This one is definitely a labour of love, but so worth it for the oohs and ahhs.
"This recipe is very typical of Southeast Asian dessert drinks which revolve around coconut milk, various types of beans, pandan and jellies, topped with shaved ice. It’s a perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer’s day. " Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co.
How beautiful does this Afghan dessert look? Such a treat to see these served at your celebration. Layers of rose syrup, pieces of maghoot jelly, icecream, milk and nuts are served with both a straw and a spoon. What a way to end a party!
An incredibly impressive cake that will test both your baking and artistic skills, this vegan jelly masterpiece is beautifully flavoured with rosewater and coconut milk.
They’re like a pretty-in-pink version of the all-Australian lamington – and I still have no idea where my mother got the recipe from . . .
Jelly rings are a popular American candy featuring rings of jelly covered in chocolate. In my doughnut version, a take on the classic Hanukkah jelly doughnut, I bake mini chocolate doughnuts and fill them with raspberry doughnut jam using a syringe. I dip them in chocolate and voila! They look and taste like my husband's all-time favourite candy. You’ll need a mini doughnut pan and flavour injector syringe, from cake decorating shops.
The secret, I find, is to use real fruit juice as the base, and to use only enough gelatine to just set the jelly, so it dissolves as soon as it hits your mouth.