Sunday, 17 August 2014

My Cherry Amour

Fanny Cradock probably never had Jelly Fluff, she probably never even heard of it, but for me that's the only childhood memory of creamy jellies I have. I'm not sure I ever had cream that wasn't in a tin or a squirty can now that I think of it. Not real cream anyway, I'm not sure when I first had real cream! Jelly Fluff was made in my house anyway with a packet of brightly coloured jelly and a tin of Carnation Evaporated Milk, then served with maybe a digestive biscuit or two. It wasn't even a favourite, in secret I couldn't stand the evaporated milk at all. At least in Jelly Fluff it was slightly more bearable than the other dessert option, which was just digestive biscuits with a tin of everything-tastes-the-same Fruit Cocktail and the dreaded evaporated milk poured on top. My favourite 'fruit' from the tin was the hard to find bright pink cherry half - there was usually just the one! Probably just as well Fanny wasn't party to any of this, she'd give it a withering look sure to make it curdle.

Fannys version is a much fancier affair, naturally. A lovingly set mixture of cherry juice and cream. Fanny does say that a tin of cherries may be considered here, but only if out of season. It never occurred to me when I was young that there might be a whole can of those bright pink cherry halves available! Fanny was a big supporter of canning and packing her own produce, so she probably had a few tins or jars of cherries squirrelled away, and never had to resort to the Del Monte. Luckily for me, cherries are bang in season and I found some gorgeous dark black ones to use in this dessert.

The kitchen did resemble a crime scene from Dexter once I'd pitted the cherries mind you. I wonder what the splatter analysis would show? Fanny uses the fresh cherries for a garnish on the finished dessert, so just need to be 'flicked' with a little Kirsch at this stage. To make the very cherry cream Fanny suggests juicing up some cherries, or using the juice from the can. I found some lovely natural cherry syrup in my local Polish deli recently, so that's good enough for me!

The usual jelling rules apply here, add the vegetarian alternative to cold liquid and bring to the boil. For Fanny, it's the same with her gelatine powder. I'm using Agar flakes this time instead of powder, which take a little longer to dissolve and are a little harder to measure accurately. The packet suggests a tablespoon per 250ml of liquid. After the diluted cherry syrup reaches boiling point, it simmers for a few minutes before the tub of whipping cream is plunged in. Quickly, Fanny insists, it should be whipped together. I never really use whipping cream, even for whipping. It's a mystery to me really. 

Remembering Fannys sage advice for jellies I oil my mould well in preparation, with a spray oil which gets into all the nooks and crannys. Oil for cream, wet for not. It's a glorious deep pink colour, and sets really well at room temperature in about an hour. It looks like it has a good wibble wobble as I take my deep breath and turn it out. It slips out of the mould perfectly. Phew! Some whipped double cream and those kirsch soaked cherries finish things off nicely. Maybe I should've added some more agar flakes though, it begins to crack a little under the weight of the fruit, which is good enough reason for me to eat it VERY quickly. It thankfully tastes nothing like the Jelly Fluff of old, not that I had that with alcoholic cherries of course. It's smooth, sharp and creamy, like a thicker cheery cherry mousse. Ever the nostalgic though, I'm really wishing I'd bought some digestives to have with it...


  1. Wow! Lovely. I'm learning a lot of new stuff this week. Jelly fluff. Mmm.

    1. That's a particularly Scottish education there! Not sure what it's called around the world, but it's lovely ;-)