Chrysanthemum Flower Tea Jelly 菊花茶凍


Like  a moment frozen in time, so does this little jelly capture the beauty of the delicate chrysanthemum flower.  This little dessert is a riff on the classic relaxing and rejuvenating Chinese Chrysanthemum Tea (click link to check out how to brew some!) which is beloved by young and old.  

For myself, the joy of the chrysanthemum tea has always been the fact that flowers, yes! actual flowers, are used in the tea.  Dried, twisted and wrinkled flowers, that, once blessed with hot water, will blossom to the full of their original, delicate, dancing beauty.  Fascinating!

We capture the beauty of this tea, of that moment of blossoming, with our Chrysanthemum Flower Jelly 菊花茶凍, where the delicate taste of this flower tea can be enjoyed against the full glory of the flower’s beauty.
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To achieve the most beautiful effect you will need to use the long petalled chrysanthemums.  Oh, these lovelies are my favorite!  So elegant!  These flowers are the inspiration for centuries of Chinese artists and poets.

A lovely example of that flower inspired art above: isn’t it just delightful…chrysanthemums, butterflies, and a wee cat!  That delicately simple yet so descriptive touch of the humble Chinese ink brush.

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To set this jelly we are going to use agar agar 瓊脂, a thickening, gelling agent which is made from seaweed.  This gelling agent is easier to set than gelatin and firms up more which makes it perfect for holding the flowers petals in ‘bloom’.

 Agar agar comes in strips, flakes and also as a powder.  We used agar agar strips as they are the most commonly found.  To prepare the agar agar strips for use soak them in water first.

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The soaked strips are then boiled until the strips are completely melted.  That’s all the prep that is needed for the agar agar strips.

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We used white sugar to sweeten instead of the usual rock sugar we use when making chrysanthemum tea.  The flavor of the rock sugar is more subtle, more flavorful, but we went with white sugar to keep the jelly clearer in color so as to show off the flower petals more clearly.

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Once the agar agar is dissolved and sweetened it’s time to brew your tea!  Toss in the dried chrysanthemums, cover and let brew.  You’ll find that the gentle fragrance of chrysanthemum will fill the air in a most relaxing manner.

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A note on molds and unmolding:  I used these half dome silicon molds.  Perfect for the job!  You can, however,  use any shape as long as it is bigger than the blossomed flowers.  You can even use simple shaped cups or bowls as molds as agar agar jellies are pretty easy to unmold.  

With silicon molds you just need to give the mold a gentle squeeze and the jelly will pop right out.  With the stiff molds run a knife tip along the edge of the jelly, turn upside down and tap.  Should come out with a wee bit of persuasion.

All is ready and it’s time to make us some jellies!  Pour the fragrant brewed tea into your mold about 3/4ths of the way up.  Use chopsticks to grab the chrysanthemum by the green bit (I don’t known the name), place flower petals downward into the tea filled mold.  Gently shake the flower and see the petals flare out.  Top off with a bit more tea.  That’s pretty much it.  Now you just have to wait for it to set. 

My jellies are set!  Wowzer, these Chrysanthemum Flower Jellies 菊花茶凍 are something special!  Golden globes of the blooming chrysanthemum caught in their moment of ethereal beauty, infused with chrysanthemum’s signature delicately light floral flavor.  Enjoy!

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Chrysanthemum Flower Jelly Recipe

(makes 6)  Prep time: 15 mins  Cook/Brew time: 20 mins 

Ingredients:

Directions:

Soak agar agar strips in cool water to cover for 15 mins.  Drain, squeeze and then add the agar agar strips and 3 1/4 cups water to a pot.  (If using agar powder whisk into the water.)  Let simmer over low heat for 10-15 mins until the agar agar strips are completely melted and the liquid is reduced to 2 1/4 cups.

Remove from heat and add the dried chrysanthemums, pushing blossoms under the water.  Cover and let seep for 10 mins.  

Place the silicon mold onto a tray and scoop tea to fill a single mold 75% full.  Use a chopstick to grab a chrysanthemum by the green part and lift into the mold.  Once in the tea shake the flower lightly to spread the petals.  Working quickly, as the jelly does set quite fast, do the same for the rest of the molds.  Distribute the rest of the tea into the molds equally.  

Chill one hour in the fridge until the jelly is set.

Serve chilled.  When ready to unmold, gently squeeze the silicon mold until the jelly releases.  Place plate over the jelly and flip it on to a serving plate.  Enjoy!

Store covered in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.  

Fab Flowers at The Hong Kong Cookery:



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