Foodiva's Kitchen: Aloe Vera and Grapefruit Jelly...With Pearls!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Aloe Vera and Grapefruit Jelly...With Pearls!

I actually made two desserts today. On this lazy Sunday, a day of supposed rest. Yes, I did. What brought it about was well, the failure of one of these two desserts when I had made it a few days ago. To get away from the frustration, someone suggested that maybe I should try making something foolproof (thanks, Tasty Trix), something that couldn't fail even if I was making it while sleepwalking. Anyway, today's first dessert, a cake actually, worked out just fine. It also tasted magical. Except.... I was still thinking about the other dessert that got away!

So in the waning light of the day, I decided to give it another go. It was to be my third attempt at making the dastardly Aloe Vera and Pink Grapefruit Cream Jelly, using agar agar as a base to work with. Just everyday ingredients... Hmmm, I better let you know that we have pots of aloe vera plants growing outside our home, so for me, they're 'everyday'. Also, I had brought home an armload of pink grapefruits the other day, most of which I've utilized, bar one. I was down to my last grapefruit and the situation was getting desperate!

At home, we mostly use aloe vera as part of our beauty ritual - think home spa. I often slather the slimy (it's waaay slimier than okra) aloe vera sap all over my face before I go to bed. I can honestly tell you that it's rather unpleasant handling all that messy slime! But I know I'll be rewarded for my efforts when I reach 82 and have only one wrinkle to my name... uhh, perhaps that's just wishful thinking.

Don't forget to get rid of the thorns first! Oh... did I already mention slimy

I guess most people are familiar with aloe vera as a health supplement in the form of juices, powder or tablets. Not many realize that fresh aloe vera can be eaten too, it's refreshing with yogurt or as part of a dessert. Once the hard skin is removed and the flesh is boiled, aloe has the texture of cooked plums or grapes, although without any of the flavoring. On its own, it tastes of nothing really so it's important to add a flavor to it, such as lime or sugar. I decided here to go with kaffir lime leaves and it turned out to be a rather excellent choice.

So in my mind, I saw this beautifully layered dessert - thin slices of grapefruit flesh sandwiched in between the translucent aloe vera and pinkish hue of the grapefruit cream and topped with caramelized palm sugar. Except it turned out like this, total disaster!

I only had one grapefruit left, so it was time to rework the dessert. Got rid of the palm sugar and grapefruit slivers, and finally... it all came together! I must mention that in the midst of my despair the other day, I had the good fortune to come across Ms. Salty Seattle's experimentation in her CSI-like kitchen to produce little agar spheres, so since I was working with agar, I thought, why not try it out? To my utter amazement, the simple act of injecting warm agar blobs into frozen oil really worked to produce (in this case) glistening, pink grapefruit pearls encased in agar. Except mine weren't shaped so roundedly, more like little pebbles rather than gems.

The four layers

In the end, I had made enough pink spheres to sprinkle on all my serving portions. I would've loved to make more of these so they can form the topmost layer but 1. the sun was setting and I had to take photos quickly, 2. the oil was melting fast and there was no time to refreeze it before dark, and 3. I got tired of playing so decided to simply pour the grapefruit-agar mixture on top of the dessert to make the final layer. I won't go into the mechanics of producing the spheres here, but if you're really interested, you can head over to Linda's blog now and learn something new.

Holy Moly, it worked!

It was worth failing a couple of times just so I could end up with this very pretty, almost ethereal dessert. The aloe vera gives a refreshing crunch, the kaffir lime and grapefruit flavors pack a mean citrusy punch, while the mellow cream serves to balance the acidity and pull the dessert together. Sweet...

Oh, and what of that foolproof dessert? Another post, another day, my friends.

Aloe Vera and Pink Grapefruit Cream Jelly

Agar agar (base solution)
1 packet (7g) agar agar powder
200g caster sugar
500ml water

Dissolve sugar and agar in water and bring to the boil. Remove from heat andvuse this solution as the base for other layers.

Aloe Vera Layer
2 large aloe vera leaves, peeled and cubed
4 kaffir lime leaves, crushed
150ml water
( + 150ml base agar solution)

Boil aloe vera and kaffir leaves on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Fish out and discard leaves. Add the base agar solution.

Cream Layer
150ml double cream
(+ 250ml base agar solution)

Gently whisk the cream with the base agar solution until well combined. Take 150ml of this mixture to make the Grapefruit Cream Layer (below)

Grapefruit Juice Layer
100ml grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
150ml extra water
(+ 150ml base agar solution)

Strain grapefruit juice, retain the fleshy bits for the Grapefruit Cream Layer (below). Add water and base agar solution to the grapefruit juice.

Grapefruit Cream Layer
150ml of Cream Layer mixture
Grapefruit flesh that has been strained (above)

Whisk together until well combined.
(Note: If I had more grapefruit, I would've added the juice as well)

Spoon the layers carefully into the serving dish in this order:
1. Aloe Vera Layer
2. Grapefruit Cream Layer
3. Cream Layer
4. Grapefruit Juice Layer
5. Grapefruit Spheres (optional)

Make sure you leave each layer to set for a few minutes in the freezer before spooning the next layer on top of it. Keep the agar base solution/mixtures warm while waiting to be layered to prevent the agar from setting and clumping.


Sandra said...

Holy Molly...that was me when I saw this!!!
I never saw something like this...It looks phenomenal!!:)))

Nancy said...

You always have a fascinating creation to share, I love this! I can't imagine the work and time involved in creating the jelly, but it totally paid off. I would so love to have one of your jellies, but one you made OK:) Aloe Vera I've never eaten only used it for burns, sounds like a good ingredient to try. Thanks for teaching me something new again.

Kate @ said...

That certainly is unusual, but I'd love to try it. And here I thought that aloe vera was just for the skin! :)

Magic of Spice said...

Oh my goodness these look so impressive! I am not sure I could ever pull this off, but boy would I love to try one :)
P.S. I have a couple of aloe vera plants, but have not used them as a beauty treatment like you described... definitely going to try it :)

Victoria said...

Yay! I'm glad finally got the dessert to work for you. Third times the charm, right? haha. I've never eaten aloe (and for that matter I'm pretty sure agar agar) but I'm definitely in intrigued! You're so creative!

Torviewtoronto said...

delicious and healthy I like layering desserts

Nourhan @ Miss Anthropist's Kitchen said...

It looks fabulous! I don't know how you manage to come up with these maginificent desserts :)

and I should consider that aloe vera beauty ritual you speak of while I still have the chance...I'm honestly terrified to get wrinkles!

Anonymous said...

wow, cool. but i'm just a teeny tiny bit scared of this. no really, i'm not sure i could eat this.

Kristen said...

I am so intrigued by the idea of eating aloe, to say nothing of this entire dessert. What a beautiful end to a long frustrating process. Glad to see it finally worked out for you.

Unknown said...

Hi guys, thanks for leaving your say here. The comment from Justin@justcooknyc made me giggle! It's ok to be scared, Justin, I get like that about some dishes too. Esp ones involving hoofs and internal organs! But like you said in one of your posts, I'm willing to put myself out there, give it my all. Then I can do nothing else but grow. Dude, you just made my day!

As for the beautiful ladies here, yes, aloe vera is definitely a plant to grow in your home. It's low maintenance but boy, does it give something back! Well, if you consider clear, supple and glowing skin to be a great thing, that is.;-) Oh, it's crunchy and refreshing to eat too, and you can practically flavor it with anything.

Carolyn said...

Wow, this is really wild! Aloe definitely isn't every day for me here in Boston, but I love seeing you do things with it. Amazing!

Unknown said...

Carolyn, I read somewhere that you can get aloe vera leaves at Latin supermarkets in the US, so maybe you can check it out! If the thought of eating it freaks you out, maybe you can use it for healthy glowing skin!

lena said...

a beautiful dessert. over here, to make it simple, we just boil the flesh and cook it together with brown sugar and dried longans. I actually have this plant in my house but totally forgot about its benefits for our skin!

Kimberly Peterson said...

Beautifully layered dessert indeed! And I love aloe vera, can't get enough - haven't been getting enough, so hard to find here. Thanks for sharing this looks lovely!

penny aka jeroxie said...

Now I want to get an aloe vera plant. This is pretty damn cool

art is in the kitchen said...

Spectacular dessert with not so common ingredients! What an innovative concoction! There should be another award for unusual and exciting recipe for you! This is just so creative! Bravissima!!!!

Unknown said...

Thank you Lena, Kimberly, Penny and Arthur. If I have my way, aloe vera will be all the rage in 2011! Haha, maybe not... I want the next trendy ingredient to be spelt, I just love how it tastes!

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

i really love how pretty this dessert looks presented in a glass like that. i am so very intrigue by the grapefruit spheres. So just drop some agar mixture into regular frozen oil? wow! that is so creative. thanks for sharing this.

Unknown said...

BBK Diaries, that's right. You inject the agar mixture into the frozen oil using a small squish bottle, a plastic pipette or a straw. Only then you'll get the rounded spheres, as the cold oil molds the shape of the agar blob.

Tasty Trix said...

Ha, thanks for the shout out - I am glad I could be of help! ; ) You must be feeling more sane now that you pulled off a successful version of the dish you had in mind. Whew! No wonder it didn't come out right the first few attempts - you aim high, girl. It's gorgeous. I have really been wanting to try making little pearls like this, I just need the ingredients. (Oh, and some skillz) I love Salty Seattle's blog also, she's amazing. .. And now you have revealed the secret to your youthful beauty!What an all-encompassing post.

Unknown said...

And what an all encompassing comment, Trix! Thank you for taking the time, really, I do appreciate it. Just when I'm starting to get my sanity back, the IIP event stares me in the eye! Must think up something groovy...

Joyti said...

It actually looks quite lovely - very ethereal.
I've got to get my hands on some agar agar now :)

Satya said...

this looks too good a multilayed drink with aloe vera !!so healthy


Super Yummy Recipes

A little bit of everything said...

WOW, i'm speechless. your work of art is impressive. stunning photos.

Shirley said...

Hey Good to meet like minded foodies! Check out this post of mine, I think you'll love it.

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

I know you wrote this post lol, I had seen it at the time and always remembered it, actually this post inspired me to go ahead and buy the Aloe leaf ;-). Glad you stuck it out until you found success!

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