Raspberry cordial and raspberry and Lillet Rouge jelly

There are many things wasted on children. Two among them are jelly and cordial.

Jelly is an underrated dessert. It can be much more than the sugar water that comes out of the packet. It can hold all sorts of sophisticated flavours.

This is a rather grown-up jelly, using the French aperitif Lillet. There is a white version, a red, and a rosé version. It is a fortified product, with spirit added to a wine base, usually served on ice.

Because the Lillet is macerated in vats, it already has some herbals added. For this jelly, I simmer it with orange juice and raspberries and the resulting flavour is like a good punch.

To make jelly, I use gelatine leaves, which are more accurate than powder and easier to get right. For a firm jelly, 10 leaves will set about a litre of liquid. From there, it is easy to adjust the jelly’s wobble to your preference, by using more or fewer leaves. Too much gelatine results in a rubbery finish. What I shoot for is a soft feel that will melt when it is in a person’s mouth.

In restaurants, jelly is somewhat out of fashion. But the truth is, it’s place has been stolen by panna cotta – which is just jelly by another name, using milk instead of water. I’m glad to have finally said that. 

Cordial – in this country anyway – usually refers to a non-alcoholic fruit-based drink. Or almost fruit-based, in some cases. It can also be known as squash. It’s part of a child’s summer and was pretty much a staple before the age of soft drink. 

Getting away from childhood, I like to make cordials with various herbs: elderflower works well, and ginger. In bars and restaurants, there has been a move towards making elixirs and cordials to distil flavours before introducing them into cocktails – alcoholic and the other ones. 

This can be as simple as infusing mint and lemongrass with sugar syrup or going as far as using a rotary evaporator to suck the flavours out of anything. Mostly, at least, these flavours are more interesting than what can be bought off the shelf. They are for adults.

1 . Raspberry and Lillet Rouge jelly

Serves 6-8

– 8 gelatine leaves

– 500ml Lillet Rouge

– 500g frozen raspberries

– 250g sugar

– 150ml fresh orange juice, strained to remove pith

– 1 tbsp lemon juice

Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water to soften.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the Lillet Rouge, raspberries, sugar and orange juice over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the raspberries collapse. Don’t let it boil.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve without pressing down on the rasperries; this will make the jelly cloudy. You should have about one litre of strained liquid.

Reheat a quarter cup of the raspberry liquid in a small saucepan. Drain the water from the gelatine and squeeze out any excess before adding it to the saucepan, stirring until it dissolves.

Pour this mixture back into the remaining raspberry liquid, along with the lemon juice, and mix well before pouring into a bowl. Refrigerate until set.

To serve, spoon the jelly into serving dishes with some fresh raspberries and pour a little cream over the top.

2 . Raspberry cordial

Serves about 8-10

– 500g frozen raspberries

– 250g sugar

– 150ml lemon juice

– 1 tsp rosewater

In a saucepan, heat the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Bring the mixture to the boil and remove from the heat. Strain the cordial and allow it to cool before adding the rosewater.

Serve the cordial over ice and top up with soda water to taste.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Dec 12, 2015 as "Raspberry buffet".

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Andrew McConnell is the executive chef and co-owner of Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc.