Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Great "Gin & Juice" Off



Gin & Juice Jelly Shots


Oh, the Gin & Juice shot, so refreshing, but so tricky to formulate!  It is a fo shizzle fact that grapefruit juice's puckersome characteristics are more pleasant in liquid than solid form.  We completely jettisoned Version 1 of Gin & Juice (a horror show!  we refused to circulate it on test plates!).  For Version 2 of this shot, we used a citrus juice blend as well as a hearty dose of simple syrup.   Still, this shot was love-it-or-leave-it, even among the hard core gin lovers.  Version 3 added agave nectar, for a touch of low-key additional sweetness while maintaining the integrity of the grapefruit flavor.  We plated Version 3 along side Version 2 for testers, and Version 3 was a tester favorite.  (In a pinch, in the absence of agave, another dose of  simple syrup would also suffice. )

Cheers, JSTK

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gin & Tonic, Sailboats and Candied Limes

I love a gin and tonic.  On a patio.  In the sun.  It is truly the perfect 'mid-afternoon-watch-the-sailboats-drift by' drink.  Even if you have to make up the sailboat part and just watch the world drift by.  As the G&T and I are involved in a long-term, unending summer love affair, it is only to be expected I imagine that I'm having a hard time picking final images from the proofs.

Taste wise, this is a delightful jelly shot with a really lovely, delicate texture.  We're working on how to best incorporate the required lime garnish - it may be candied....it may not be!

 
Gin & Tonic Jelly Shots

 
 Gin & Tonic Jelly Shots



Gin & Tonic Jelly Shots


We're still assembling feedback from the latest rounds of testing.  Stay tuned.  We'll be back on Tuesday with another update.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jelly Shots in the News (LA Times)

The following article (see link below) was printed in the LA Times back in 2007.  In addition to providing an interesting take on jelly shots in the Angelino restaurant scene (and beyond . . . way way beyond, i.e. spotlighting culinary pioneers who are pushing the cocktail envelope to the limit), the author includes recipes for blueberry martini shots and other jellied delights!  Enjoy!

http://www.latimes.com/features/printedition/food/la-fo-cocktails10oct10,0,7424336.story

Cheers, JSTK

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 12, 2009 Tester Feedback


 
Contestants for the 9/12 Test Plates
Pictured: Margarita, Tequila Sunrise, Key Lime Pie & Washington Apple


My oh my . . . tester feedback is piling up!  The September 12, 2009 batch of plates contained five flavors, four brand new recipes and a revamped Tequila Sunrise (using juice from concentrate rather than fresh squeezed).  Here's what our testers thought:
  • Margarita - For this shot, we modified a classic margarita recipe and used 100% agave white tequila with a large crystal sugar garnish to allow for a true to life mouth feel of a margarita (i.e. the salty glass rim).  While testers agreed that a few crystals of salt could be accomodated with no ill effects, most felt that a full on salt garnish would be too literal a translation and bring the drink to the knife edge of well, a. . .  savory aspic.  Although all our testers liked this shot, some felt the gelatin medium certainly increased the intensity of the tequila flavor.  One tester surmised, ". . . perhaps use a touch less [tequila], or increase the cointreau, lime and simple syrup," which we have duly noted.   
  • Key Lime Martini - This shot was a fairly literal interpretation of the key lime martini.  We suspected that the amount of alcohol (significant) in this shot might result in something close to the 'lemon drop incident" of earlier this month (as referenced in previous posts, although we owe this unfortunate series of events its own headline in blogland - if nothing else a cautionary tale for jelly shooters everywhere).  As such, we used Roses lime juice instead of fresh, and added a heathy dose of simple syrup to the mix.  While most testers thought this shot was good, they also found it to be on the tart side and indicated it would "benefit from a little sweetness".    


    Key Lime Martini Jelly Shots
    • Key Lime Pie Martini - It had a lime layer, it had a pie layer, and we also sent along a graham cracker crumb garnish for dipping (the crumbs provided a lovely soft, sweet counterpoint to the shots lime and cream layers).  It was "Yum!", "Yum!" and "Yummy!" across the board - this shot was universally loved by the testing panel, and we must admit it is at the head of the class for us as well.  
    • Washington Apple - A brilliant and tasty suggestion from a tester.  We couldn't stop ourselves - photos of this adorable and delicious shot were already posted, several days ago (well ahead of this writing). The Washington Apple shot deemed a success by the majority of our tasting panel, apart a few testers who did not care for the slight whiskey finish at the end of the shot.  However, the dissenting testers were upfront about their lack of appreciation for that caramel colored spirit in general.  Whiskey drinkers, on the other hand, rejoiced! Declared the shot was "perfect", and "better than candy". You know who you are!
    • Tequila Sunrise II - While we are always advocates for using freshest and best ingredients, this shot was just as delightful, but not identical, using juice from concentrate.   The concentrate version was slightly more acidic than the fresh squeezed, and the tequila taste was also slightly stronger as a result, as pointed out by a tester.  However, these imperfections are easily rectified with certain adjustments for type of juice, desired octane level and sweetness. 
    A million thanks to our astute and generous testing panel for sacrificing their delicate palates in the name of jelly shot science!  More to come!
     
    Cheers, JSTK

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    Jelly Shot Test Kitchen FAQs


    Jelly Shots, Ready to Roll


    Who is Jelly Shot Test Kitchen?
    We are two sisters with a shared love of food, cocktails and inappropriately tall shoes. Between the two of us, we have lived the lives of Investment Banker, Software Manager, Photographer, Hedge Fund Maven, Al Bundy Shoe Store Slave, twice Economics students  as well as countless others that we've forgotten or deeply repressed.

    What are Jelly Shots?
    Remember college Jello-Shots?  The dixie cups filled with Jell-O brand gelatin, strong spirits and whipped cream?  Jelly Shots are a grown-up, sophisticated version of this phenom, sans cups of course.   Using the original concept as a spring board, classic cocktails are reinvented into their new, sassy gelatin selves.  The hallmarks of a successful jelly shot include: true flavor rendition of the original boozy libation and a free-spirited jiggling form that makes them a joy to devour.

    Why Jelly Shots?
    Why Not?  Who doesn't love the fun of a jiggling cocktail?  Taking a pedestrian jello-shot and turning it into something sublime is our ever beckoning, if somewhat eccentric, Homeric quest. 

    Is it appropriate to toast my fellow diners with a Jelly Shot? 
    Yes, of course!  Toasting has a long tradition and is a mark of respect to host and guests.   Not sure what to do?  Grasp your jelly shot between thumb and forefinger, and either "clink" it with your neighbor's shot as if it were a glass of champagne or simply raise an "air toast" with appropriate salutation (e.g. cheers, salut, chin chin).  Note that in some cultures it is important to make direct eye contact when raising your glass, errr . . . cube, that is.  The same rules apply here.


    Where in the world is the Test Kitchen?
    The Jelly Shot Test Kitchen is located in Edina, Minnesota.  Wikipedia indicates that the founding of Edina was a hotbed of in fighting between Scottish and Irish families who originally settled the area; the name Edina being a derivative of Edinburgh.   These days, the only war on the streets is between the local franchises of Sur la Table and Cooks of Crocus Hill to see whose kitchen store will reign supreme.  Also of interest, is that the City of Edina allows only municipal liquor stores to exist within its boundaries.  Smart kids those city counselors.

    We are off at the Jelly Shot Summit until early next week.  Until then, cheers!

    JSTK

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    An Apple A Day . . .

    The Washington Apple jelly shot, interpreted from a tester's favorite cocktail recipe, performed like a star in its Test Kitchen debut over the weekend.  Testers enjoyed the shot's curb appeal just as much as its refreshing taste.  After viewing the photos below, we have to agree - imagine an entire platter of these adorable apple-y cubes, or mixed in with Green Apple Martinis or Apfelcorn Fizz (another reader suggestion) for a little apple medley jelly shot action.

    Have a favorite cocktail you'd like to submit?







     
    Washington Apple Jelly Shots



    Cheers,
    JSTK






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    Sunday, September 13, 2009

    Ghosts of Jelly Shots Past

    It's been a busy couple of weeks in the Halls of Gelatin - we have many noble jelly shots that haven't yet had a debut on the blog. Yesterday, in a shutter-click haze, I believe I declared myself the "Annie Liebovitz of Gelatin Cocktail Photography". It's obviously an extremely niche skill set.

    I'm sorry Ms.
    Liebovitz. It was a moment of self aggrandizing madness. The hot lights and glamorous setting must have gone to my head . . . on the other hand, perhaps the second sample of the Key Lime Pie Martini shot had something to do with it?

    Personal insanity aside, here are three favorites from the past weeks. We'll soon have the
    Flickr Photostream set up as well.


    Bailey's & Coffee was a crowd favorite.



    The Flirtini. Yes, that's a maraschino cherry inside the jelly shot! It looks and tastes brilliant!


    A battalion of Tequila Sunrise Jelly Shots


    Cheers,
    JSTK

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    September 10, 2009 Tester Feedback


    A test plate with shots & garnish getting prepped for the road


    Tester feedback regarding the September 10, 2009 Tasting Menu is in! Five shot varieties were distributed to testers, including four new recipes (Chocolate Martini, White Chocolate Martini, Grasshopper, and Sambuca) and one refurbished recipe (Dreamsicle II).

    A lesson learned is that a forty minute drive time outside of a cooler adversely affects the texture and surprisingly, the taste, of several of these
    delicate creme dessert style shots. Future test plates will ride in ice cooled comfort to their final destinations to ensure best product for testing. As a side note, several of the more fruity / sturdy varieties traveled in a cooler on a three hour road trip plus over-nighted in a hotel refrigerator prior to tasting with no ill effects, so they are not all hot-house flowers.

    Sentiment on the two dessert martini varieties was quite positive. "Would choose over dessert. Not sure you could impove them!", said one tester. "Very true to the cocktail version", said another. From yet another tester, "[T]hese shots are not as pretty as some of the others but I like the taste very much." However, two testers felt the shots could be improved by lessening their booziness and adding more actual chocolate and white chocolate flavor.

    The Grasshopper Jelly Shot, after much toil, worry and reformulation (the pastel rubber debacle of earlier this week), was a home run across the board. Even the two dissenting martini shot testers enjoyed the Grasshopper, texture at room temperature aside. Hurrah!

    Not surprisingly, the black licorice-flavored Sambuca Jelly Shot (a crystal clear shot peppered with slivers of black Twizzler) was love-it-or-leave-it for testers. Additionally, the texture of the shot was less than firm due to its high alcohol content (no mixers were used), and as a result the shot was very difficult to consume. Still many testers enjoyed this shot. "Yummy . . . more gelatin [needed], fell apart, stuck to bottom. LOVE THE LICORICE!", exclaimed one tester. "I am not a big licorice fan but I do like how this tastes. I frankly like it better than a shot of Sambuca," said another. Other testers were less than amused. "What's the black stuff? Looks like eyeballs!"

    Regarding Dreamsicle Jelly Shot II, all the testers agreed that the orange taste was brightened in this go round. Unfortunately, the reformulation led to overall aesthetic difficulties, as well as a negative impact on mouth feel of the cream layer (i.e. making it rather cement like). Back to the drawing board we go!!

    Thanks to all the testers for their feedback. In response, for certain of the dessert shots, we hypothesize that the alcohol could be reduced by half, and replaced with milk, if desired. Also, in addition to upping the gelatin level in the Sambuca, we are exploring alternative varieties of internal garnish to avoid the dreaded optical effect in the next version of this jelly shot.

    Our next tasting is scheduled for Saturday, September 12, 2009. We expect to have five varieties prepped for testers, including: Margarita; Key Lime Martini, Key Lime Pie Martini; Washington Apple; and Tequila Sunrise III.

    Cheers! JSTK


    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    Dessert Shot Redux

    Busy night at the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen! Earlier this week, we were very excited to attempt the Grasshopper, Chocolate Martini and White Chocolate Martini. All three crashed and burned in a horrific twisted pile of pastel rubbery mayhem. At least that's how it felt. After adjusting our gelatin ratios to accommodate certain of the lower proof dessert liqueurs, and a few other small tweaks here and there, we are hopeful about our latest interpretations of these cocktails. And we do mean interpretations - while Jelly Shot Test Kitchen's aim is to adhere to classic formulas and ratios, sometimes even the most beautifully constructed cocktail recipe just doesn't translate into a jelly shot. As such, tonight's versions of the Grasshopper, Chocolate Martini and White Chocolate Martini are renditions, which will hopefully will transfer more successfully to the gelatin medium.

    Also revamped tonight was the Dreamsicle Jelly Shot, a combination of orange juice, Cointreau, vodka, and cream - our own interpretation/modification of the Orangesicle cocktail (which has no dairy). Although palatable, and admittedly a very pretty shot (slightly marbled orange and white), Testers found the first Dreamsicle lacking the burst of orange sherbet-y goodness one might desire from a jelly shot thus named. The second attempt was revamped to be orangey-er and creamier while maintaining its alcohol punch.

    Newly formulated tonight at the Kitchen is the Sambuca Jelly Shot, which uses an experimental gelatinizing method with zero mixers.

    All in all, an exciting slate of Jelly Shots on the menu this week! We look forward to feedback from our Jelly Shot Testers . . .

    Cheers! JSTK

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Fuzzy Navel Jelly Shot Recipe




    Peach Layer
    ¾ cup peach juice or peach nectar (strained through a fine sieve to remove solids)
    ¼ cup peach schnapps

    1 envelope plain Knox gelatin


    In a saucepan, sprinkle the peach nectar with gelatin. Allow gelatin to soak for a minute or two. Heat on low, stirring constantly, until the gelatin is fully dissolved, approximately 5 minutes. Add the schnapps, stirring well, and pour into pan or molds. Refrigerate until set (about an hour). Prepare orange layer.


    Orange Layer
    1 1/3 cups orange juice (strained through a fine sieve to remove solids)


    2/3 cup peach schnapps
    2 envelopes plain Knox gelatin


    In a saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the orange juice. Let soak for a minute or so. Heat on low, stirring constantly, until gelatin is fully dissolved (approximately 5 minutes). Add the schnapps, stirring well. Pour over the set peach layer. Return to refrigerator and allow to set, several hours or overnight.

    To serve, cut into desired shapes. Makes 24-30 shots

    Note: Make sure to strain the orange juice (even if using a "pulp free" variety) to ensure a silky-textured shot.  If your orange juice isn't top-notch, try mixing in a tablespoon or two of orange juice concentrate.  

    Cosmopolitan Jelly Shot Recipe





    1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
    1 cup orange flavored vodka
    1/4 cup Roses lime juice (or fresh lime juice and a dash simple syrup or agave nectar)
    1/4 cup Grand Marnier (substitute Cointreau or Triple Sec for a milder tasting jelly shot)
    2 ½ envelopes plain Knox gelatin (1/2 envelope equals ¾ teaspoon)
    Lime zest for garnish, if desired

    In a saucepan, sprinkle cranberry and lime juices with gelatin. Allow to soak for a few minutes. Heat on low, stirring constantly, until gelatin is fully dissolved (about 5 minutes). Stir in the liquors, making sure to fully incorporate. Pour into pan or molds, and chill until set, several hours or overnight. .

    To serve, cut into desired shapes.  Garnish with the lime zest. Makes 18 to 24 shots.

    Note: the above (like the vast majority of our recipes) is true to the classic proportions of it's cocktail inspiration.   But, everyone's taste is different - feel free to replace a little of the vodka with cranberry juice cocktail if you like.  This makes me think of brave Test Kitchen volunteer Shari, and The Case of the Booze-tastic Lemon Drop Jelly Shot.  (Yikes!  To be discussed in a later forum.  Sorry 'bout that Shari!)

    Ocean Margarita

    Ocean Margarita Jelly Shot, with large crystal sugar garnishexcerpt from a photo by Tate Carlson


    This recipe makes a fairly "stiff" jelly shot - for a milder version, substitute up to 1/4 cup of the tequila and 1/4 cup of the Blue Curacao with equal amounts of water!  


    Recommended Pan:  Standard Loaf Pan (approximately 8” x 4”)

    Ingredients:
    ¾ cup 100% agave tequila
    ½ cup Blue Curacao
    2/3 cup Roses lime
    1/3 cup water
    2 envelopes Knox gelatin
    1-2 tbsp sugar or agave nectar (if desired)

    Pour lime syrup, sweetener and water in a saucepan, sprinkle with gelatin.  Allow gelatin to soak for a few minutes.  Heat over very low heat until gelatin is dissolved, stirring constantly (approximately 5 minutes).  Remove from heat, stir in tequila and Blue Curacao.  Pour into pan.  Refrigerate until fully set (several hours or overnight).

    To serve, cut into desired shapes.  Makes 18 to 24 shots.  

    The 78

    "The 78" Jelly Shot garnished with slices of edible flower petals, excerpt from a photo by Tate Carlson


    Recommended Pan:  Standard Loaf Pan (approximately 8” x 4”)

    2/3 cup St. Germain liqueur
    2/3 cup champagne, prosecco or cava
    2/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice (strained to remove solids)
    2 tsp sugar
    2 envelopes Knox gelatin
    Edible flowers for garnish, if desired

    Combine grapefruit juice and champagne in a medium saucepan, sprinkle with gelatin.  Allow gelatin to soak for a minute or two.  Heat over low heat, stirring carefully and constantly, until gelatin is dissolved (approximately 5 minutes).  Remove from heat.  Stir in St. Germain.  Refrigerate until fully set (several hours or overnight).

    To serve, cut into shapes and garnish as desired.  Makes 24-30 shots.  

    French Lemonade

    French Lemonade Jelly Shot with raspberry garnish, excerpt from a photo by Tate Carlson


    Recommended Pan:  Standard Loaf Pan (approximately 8” x 4”)


    Chambord Layer
    Ingredients:
    ½ cup Chambord
    ½ cup water
    1 envelope Knox gelatin

    Add water to medium saucepan and sprinkle with gelatin.  Allow to soak for a minute or two.  Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat, and stir in Chambord.  Pour into pan, and refrigerate until fully set (1 to 2 hours).  Prepare lemonade layer.


    Lemonade Layer
    Ingredients:
    2/3 cup vodka
    2/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
    2/3 cup water
    2 envelopes Knox gelatin

    Combine water and concentrate in a medium saucepan, sprinkle with gelatin.  Allow gelatin to soak for a minute or two.  Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved (approximately 5 minutes).  Remove from heat.  Stir in vodka.  Strain to remove any gelatin solids or lemon pulp.  Pour over the chilled Chambord layer and refrigerate until fully set (several hours or overnight).


    To serve, cut into desired shapes. Makes 24 to 30 shots.

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