Coming up with new ideas always involves looking back on familiar ones.
There have been too many times in which I have failed in creating new recipes and resorted to remaking those already in my collection, but that’s not always a bad thing. People always say, “think outside of the box!” but sometimes, revisiting the things you know and love is the exact inspiration you need.
Some time ago, I tried my hand at lychee ice cream. For those of you who love lychee like I do, you probably know what I mean when I say I was excited. I wanted a result on par with the lychee ice cream at Double Rainbow in SF (mmmm…or so I remember). Having failed at following conventional recipes for ice cream (mine always turned out hard and icy), I bought two large cans of lychee and set out to make my own. It was simpler than I had expected–using my experiences with melting sugar down into caramel and referencing more familiar recipes (that I had more success with), I reduced the lychee juice into a thicker syrup and chopped the fruits into bite-sized pieces to produce the defining lychee flavor (for these, I referenced caramel and strawberry ice cream).
And it wasn’t a complete failure! True, it was a little icy and strangely sour (I concluded that this was a result of the citric acid in the canned lychee juice) but it was one step closer to reaching my goal. I have yet to try it again, I’ll post the recipe when I perfect it.
So anyway, what I’m trying to say is you don’t always have to beat yourself up trying to be unique and attempting to venture into unexplored areas. Use your resources! They’ll help you more than any “spark of imagination.”
On another note: recently, my mother has become infatuated with some almond-pear bars she discovered at Nordstrom Cafe. She insisted that I try to make some, so here I am, nibbling at a pastry and scouring the internet for cake and tart base recipes, attempting to calculate the proportions of flour and other ingredients necessary for a successful imitation of the pear-bar’s texture. Alas, I am lazy, and I am not in the mood to complete my research, but thinking about the flavor of this almond-pear bar really reminds me of a dessert I grew up with, called almond jello. It’s probably the flavor of almond extract; I’ve always loved the smell and taste of it. Of course, it’s completely different from what I’m looking for, but I think reacquainting myself with familiar flavors and using them as references will really help me to pinpoint the taste of my final almond-pear bar.
Anyhow! I thought I’d share the (jello) recipe with you all today. It’s super easy, simple, and really delicious.
Almond Jello (serves 4-6)
1 packet Knox gelatin (7 g or 2 1/2 tsp)
1/4 c sugar (You can increase or decrease depending on your taste)
1 tbsp almond extract
1 c milk (I usually use whole, but you can use any percentage. You can even use powdered milk)
1 c water1 can fruit cocktail
1. Ready up your gelatin by sprinkling a little bit of water over it. Let it sit in a bowl to bloom and moisten.
2. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan.
3. Turn off the heat and let sit for a minute or two, then add the gelatin. Stir well until it dissolves.
4. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add almond extract.
5. Add the milk. Continue to stir.
6. Pour the liquid into a heatproof container or mold to cool, then chill in the refrigerator for a few hours until firm.
7. When ready to enjoy, cut a grid pattern into the jello, and scoop into bowls. Add fruit cocktail to serve.
And there it is! Easy, right? You should try it some time. Another alternative is to use agar agar, which has somewhat of a firmer texture than gelatin. Either way, it’s still delicious! Really brings the nostalgia rushing in for me. It goes to show how old things can be the best things too.