Even before I got a copy of Modernist Cuisine, I’ve been interested in seeing if I could make an interesting dessert by suspending bits of fruit in completely clear gelatin. I finally got around to it and made this:
This loaf is a whole lot of experiments compounded into one gelatinous brick of fruit. There are a couple of interesting things going on here.
I didn’t want the gel to taste too plain, so I used a mixture of water and apple juice as the liquid. I also added a little bit of sugar. This made the flavor a little more interesting, and I would do this again. I also wanted to try using agar (aka kanten) to see how it compares with gelatin; honestly, it is very nearly the same. It is not quite as springy, but the mouth feel is close, and it can set very firmly. Agar is almost odorless (it doesn’t have gelatin’s wet-dog smell when you heat it), and it’s a plant extract, so it is also good for avoiding awkward conversations with vegetarians.
The fruits in there are raspberries, blueberries, canned pineapple, and star fruit. Fruits that keep gelatin from setting seem to have the same effect on agar, and fresh star fruit seems to be one of those fruits. It’s a pity, because it’s so good looking! That is one gorgeous top layer of star fruit. Perhaps this could be addressed by heating the star fruit a bit; I’m not sure. Star fruit tastes like a combination between pears and granny smith apples, and has a little bit of crunch.
The raspberries and blueberries, unfortunately, were a little bit sour, and that didn’t help the overall flavor at all. Since the fruit is the only real flavor in this dish, it’s important to make it very good quality.