new year dessert: crystal osmanthus flower jelly with wolfberries

Crystal Osmanthus Flower Jelly with Wolfberries is an agar-gelatin dessert. It is served at New Year because the osmanthus flower, a tiny yellow fragrant flower, is thought to represent good luck, friendship, and success. For centuries the Chinese have been using flowers like these to make fragrant teas and desserts. This dessert also contains wolfberries, also called goji berries, which are considered an antioxidant high in Vitamin A, 8 essential amino acids, and minerals. The Chinese have been using them for thousands of years to make soup-tonics. This dessert is light, slightly sweet, with a tiny sharp clean scent from the chrysanthemum flowers in the tea. It is a bit firmer and “crisper”  than desserts made with gelatin on account of the agar. But it is so good for you. So here’s to a healthy 2020! Chaiyo!

Crystal Osmanthus Flower Jelly with Wolfberries
Makes one 8-inch cake

9 g powdered agar
20 g gelatin bloomed in 100 g water
166 g rock sugar
1380 g water (about 6 cups)
2 chrysanthemum tea bags
2.5 g dried osmanthus flower (about 2 tablespoons)
8 g dried goji berries (2 tablespoons)

Special Equipment:
large aluminum finish saucepan
8×8-inch square or 8×2-inch round pan

Put the goji berries in a small bowl and cover them with water. This will plump and soften the berries. When softened, 5-10 minutes, drain off the water and reserve the berries. Hydrate 20 g gelatin in 100 g cold water. Stir to mix well and let stand 5 minutes. Lightly oil pan and set aside.

Simmer rock sugar in the saucepan until sugar is completely dissolved. Off the heat and drop in the chrysanthemum tea sachets. Let the tea steep until you get a light golden color for the jelly. Discard tea bags.  Sprinkle agar on top of the liquid to hydrate. Because agar needs to boil in order to activate, bring the mixture to a boil.

Add the osmanthus flowers and goji berries; simmer, 2 minutes. Don’t steep the flowers and berries any longer than 2 minutes unless you want a darker jelly. Strain the flowers and goji berries, and reserve. Add the gelatin mixture to the tea mixture. Mix until completely dissolved.

Let mixture cool 30 minutes. To hasten thickening, set the pot in a large bowl of ice. Stir occasionally. Once jelly has started to thicken slightly, add the reserved flowers and berries, stirring gently with a fork to mix well so that the flowers and berries are suspended in the jelly. Pour into the prepared pan. Refrigerate until set, at least 8 hours,  preferably overnight.

When it is set, unmold the jelly. Run a long thin blade around the edges of the jelly. Cover with a plate and invert. Gently shake, slap the bottom of the jelly pan. The jelly should slip out onto the plate. Use a sharp knife to cut the jelly into squares. Refrigerate until ready to serve. It is best when it is cold.

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