Berries in fizzy jelly

So after the full-of-spring-feelings pork tenderloin with rhubarb and sage, an equally "springy" desert was needed. I kept leafing through the Jamie Oliver cookbook and found a recipe for summer fruit, elderberry and prosecco jelly that seemed to do the trick. And suddenly it dawned on me what to do with the bottle of strawberry flavoured "cider" (aka alcopop) that a friend of mine left in our fridge after our housewarming party a long time ago. She didn't want to drink it then, no-one has wanted to drink it since (thanks, but no thanks!), but hey, why not put it in the jelly instead of prosecco?! It's sweet, fizzy and tastes (kind of) like strawberries, so it had to work, right?

I had some problems getting the jelly to set, so I actually had to add more gelatin. I will give you my original recipe first, but also give you instructions on how to add more gelatin if you're having the same problem I did. Also, of course you don't have to use some kind of weird strawberry flavoured alcopop called "Strawberry Desire". You want it to be a bit sweet and definitely fizzy, but do experiment. And remember that if you go down the sparkling wine or alcopop route, this dish will contain alcohol...

Berries in strawberry-elderflower jelly
(adapted from Jamie Oliver's Happy Days with the Naked Chef)

Makes 3 rather large portions

2 leaves of gelatin
3/4 dl elderflower cordial (undiluted!)
1 bottle (33 cl) of strawberry-flavoured alcopop (or sparkling wine, or another fizzy drink)
One handful each of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries

Divide the berries equally into three bowls. Put them in the fridge, where your chosen fizzy drink also should be waiting. Soak the gelatin in cold water for about 10 minutes. Pour the elderflower cordial into a bowl, and place that over a pot of simmering water. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatin and add it to the elderflower coridal. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved; it should be a syrupy consistency. Let it cool at room temperature for a few minutes. Pour the cold fizzy drink over the elderflower liquid and stir carefully so all the bubbles are kept. Get the bowls of berries out of the fridge, and pour the liquid over the berries. Some berries will float up to the surface, use your finger to poke them down. Let the jelly set in the fridge. According to Jamie it will take an hour. Mine still hadn't even begin to set after two hours (see rescue-plan below) so do make this well in advance - you don't want to serve half-set jelly... Actually this can be kept in the fridge for a few days so to be on the safe side you can make it days before serving it. To get the jelly out of the bowls, dip them in hot water, place the plate upside down over the bowl, turn quickly, and hopefully the jelly will slide out of the bowl and on to the plate. Ideally it will still be "bowl-shaped". On of ours collapsed, so be careful.

What to do if your jelly doesn't set at all:
Place one or two leaves of gelatin in cold water (I used two to be on the safe side, maybe one would have been enough). Heat up some elderflower cordial (I used a bit less than half a deciliter) in a water bath as explained above, add the gelatin and stir until dissolved. Pour all the contents of your unset jelly bowls into a pitcher (to allow for easy pouring back), add the extra elderflower+gelatin mixture and stir carefully. Pour the content back into the bowls, place them in the fridge, wait and keep your fingers crossed...
Mine set beautifully after this, but it took another two-three hours.

Also, I know some people are uncomfortable with gelatin (I'm a bit uncomfortable too to tell you the truth, but as long as I don't think about it, it works...). There are vegetarian substitutions like agar-agar, but I have never used it so I can't tell you how it would work in this desert.

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