Thursday, May 26, 2011

Olive Oil and Raspberry Gel

This gel is a smooth and fruity emulsion which I like to serve with broken meringue, vanilla mascarpone cream and fresh berries as a sort of deconstructed take on pavlova.  The idea for an olive oil gel grew from a tart grapefruit paste we made at Chateaubriand in Paris and served with salsify crisps and buckwheat ice cream.

300g raspberry and apple juice
20g lemon juice
10-15g agar agar powder
150g caster sugar
300g pressed raspberry juice
300g good quality olive oil


  • Measurements: I’ve learnt to always measure my ingredients in grams rather than mls or cups etc.  It really does help with consistency and keeps the kitchen free from a mess of measuring cups and spoons.
  • Pressed raspberry juice: While fresh will work perfectly well, I usually make my pressed raspberry juice from frozen berries. After blending the defrosted raspberries I press the pulp through a fine sieve, retaining the juice and discarding the rest.
  • Agar agar: A seaweed-based setting agent very popular with chefs.  It’s a great substitute for gelatine with its higher setting point (32-40°C) making it much easier to work with.  Find it at health food or Asian grocery stores.
  1. Combine raspberry and apple juice, lemon juice,  agar agar and 100 grams of the caster sugar in a saucepan and heat until just below boiling point.
  2. Pour jelly mix into a flat tray and set in the fridge.  Mixture should set into a fairly firm jelly which can then be broken into smaller pieces.
  3. In a high-sided jug or container add the remaining sugar to the jelly pieces.  Little by little stream in the pressed berry juice and olive oil, alternating between the two, blitz constantly with a high-speed stick blender.  
  4. The process here is similar to that used for making mayonnaise.  Pay attention to the consistency of the emulsion as you add the liquids.  Depending on the quality of your olive oil or the firmness of your jelly you may find more or less oil is necessary.  What you want to create is a firm and smooth gel that holds it’s own shape.  You can also add a little more sugar if you’d prefer a sweeter paste, or a little more lemon juice if you’re more into fresh flavours.
  5. To serve: Slick a generous spoon of gel across the plate, scatter broken meringue and fresh berries then dollop on some vanilla mascarpone cream (equal parts mascarpone to whipped cream with the seeds of one vanilla pod).  Finish with cracked pepper, a quick drizzle of balsamic vinegar, slithers of fresh basil and a dust of icing sugar.

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