This is such a beautiful looking cake. I love how the top translucent layer shimmers. The bottom tier is biscuit based. The middle band is made from marshmallows and the red jewel layer is Raspberry Jell-O. It is a scrumptious no-bake eggless cake. Each layer has its own distinct taste and texture. You are going to be biting -all at the same time- into an almost savoury, compressed biscuit base, a velvety and spongy but still dense marshmallow centre and a sweetish, tart, firm top layer. So nice.

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I like that this Mirror Jelly Cake is just slightly over 1″ high. When I cut myself a slice, I can pretend that I am not indulging too much in something that is not great for me. The reality is, I cut myself quite a large size to compensate for the lack of density in height. So much for watching my waist line. My favourite layer has to be the ruby red raspberry jelly. I know it does not taste anything like raspberries. Whatever faint raspberry flavour it is supposed to represent is certainly artificially created but I just love the taste and texture of this tart and sweetish jelly. Since when has a dessert been healthy?

Mirror Jelly Cake                                           

Prep: ~10 minutes 
Cook: ~30 minutes
Inactive: ~45 minutes X 2 = 1 hour 30 minutes in the refrigerator (for the base and middle layers).
~6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator to firm up the completed cake.
Level: Intermediate
Serves: ~6 -8 persons
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes. Use 2 springform pans
Make ahead? Yes, up to 3 days

Ingredients

1 cup =250ml=8.45 fl oz

For the bottom biscuit layer
8 oz (225 g) Digestive biscuits,~13 biscuits (2 and 1/2″ in diameter)*
3.5 oz (100 g) melted butter
For the middle marshmallow layer
5.2 oz (150 g) marshmallows
1 cup (8.4 US fl oz)(250 ml) milk
1 teaspoon gelatine powder
~ 3/4 cup (5.9 oz)(170ml) Nestle cream**
For the top jelly layer
3.1 oz (90 g) raspberry flavoured jelly crystals
~ 1 cup (7.4 US fl oz) (220ml) water
1/2 tsp gelatine powder
1/8 teaspoon tiny crystals of citric acid***
*If you cannot get Digestive biscuits, try using Graham crackers or Rich Tea biscuits.
** Made in The Netherlands, it can be purchased from the baking aisles of supermarkets. Refer to photograph, under ‘Method: For The Middle Marshmallow Layer’. Nestle cream is best used incorporated into a dessert. I do not like the taste of it on its own.
*** I like the tartness. Omit it if you don’t. This is a naturally occurring fruit acid. It is sold in the form of tiny crystals and adds a tartness to food. It is also used as a preservative and you will often see it labelled as an ingredient in drinks, jams, canned food, etcetera. In a pinch, you could use it in place of lemons to sour up a sauce or dressing. You should find this in the baking aisles of supermarkets. There is a photograph of it attached under ‘Method: For the top jelly layer’. 

Method

For the bottom biscuit layer

1. Line an 8″ (20 cm) round, springform pan with parchment paper. The easiest way to do this is as shown in the image below. Check that you don’t accidentally puncture a hole in the parchment paper as you lock it shut. I did that once and my jelly leaked all over the refrigerator shelf. It is best to use a springform pan as it releases easily from the pan. It is quite impossible to slide the cake out from any other vessel. So unless you intend to serve the cake from the vessel where you assembled it, use a springform pan.

2. Melt the butter and pulverise the biscuits as fine as you can. I use my food processor. You could use a rolling pin, the base of a heavy bottom pan or a flat based meat mallet.

3. Incorporate the crushed biscuits into the melted powder.

4. Compress it into the springform pan. Level it as best as you can. I use my cookie spatula. A flat based meat mallet or the back of a spoon would also work. Leave it in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes to chill and firm up.

For the middle marshmallow layer

1. Have a pot and a dry, heatproof bowl ready. The bowl should fit into the pot snugly and sit about 2.5″ (6.3cm) off the bottom of the saucepan. Fill the saucepan with 1.5″(3.8cm) water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.
2. Put the pot on the burner and turn it on to get the water simmering.
3. In the meanwhile, scoop out into a small bowl, 3 Tablespoons milk from the 1 cup (8.4 US fl oz)(250 ml) milk. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon gelatine powder over the 3 Tablespoons of milk and allow it to bloom (turn spongy) as shown in the photograph immediately below. Set aside.

4. When the water in the pot starts to simmer, place over it, the heatproof bowl with the marshmallows, the rest of the milk and Nestle cream (shake the can of Nestle cream gently before opening to help loosen up the cream).
5. Here comes the most boring part. Stir and continue stirring for 15 minutes until marshmallows are half way through the processing of dissolving. A whisk does help speed up the process.

6. Add the bloomed gelatine and continue to stir for ~10 minutes to totally dissolve marshmallows and the bloomed gelatine.
7. Turn off the burner and remove the bowl from the pot. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

8. Remove the springform pan from the refrigerator. Pour the marshmallow mixture over it. Drop the pan lightly 2X from a height of 1″ above the work surface to get rid of air bubbles.
9. Return to the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes or until the marshmallow layer is firm. You can test if it is firm by shaking the springform pan. If the pudding does not jiggle too much, it is set. You can test it further by pressing the surface lightly with your finger. It should feel firm.


For the top jelly layer


1. About 40 minutes after refrigerating the cake with the marshmallow layer filled in, start to prepare the top jelly layer.
2. Stir the gelatine powder into the jelly crystals and pour into a saucepan.
3. Add the water into the saucepan. Stirring lightly with a spoon, bring this just to a light boil. Do not continue boiling or the gelatine might not set. Once everything has dissolved, turn off the burner and remove saucepan.
4. Add the citric acid and stir to dissolve.

5. Cool for 10 minutes. You cannot pour it onto the marshmallow layer if it has not cooled enough. It might cause the marshmallow layer to melt into the jelly layer.

6. When the liquid jelly has cooled enough but is still warm and the marshmallow layer has firmed up, it is time to pour the jelly into the springform pan.
7. To facilitate a smooth and even distribution of the jelly, here’s how you should pour the jelly over the marshmallow layer:
(1) Have a wide surface spoon ready as you will be pouring the warm jelly down the back side of the spoon and onto the marshmallow layer.
(2) Have the spoon positioned no higher than 2″ (5cm) off the surface of the marshmallow layer
(3) As you pour, move the spoon around the marshmallow layer. If the spoon was left stationary as you poured the jelly down it, and if the jelly was too warm or the marshmallow layer was not set sufficiently, what could happen is, you would create a little depression in the marshmallow layer and as the marshmallow melted, what should be a clear ruby layer would start to turn chalky.
8. Leave the springform pan on the work surface for 5 minute. Break any bubbles with a toothpick or skim off with a spoon.
9. To catch any possible spills, sit the springform pan on a completely flat plate/tray and refrigerate 6 hours. I like to refrigerate it overnight.

Removing from the springform pan
1. Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan by sliding a thin spatula or palette knife between the cake and the inner circumference of the pan.  I use my thin silicon spatula. Be gentle as you do not want to tear into the layer of jelly.
2. Unlatch and remove the sides of the pan.
3. You can slide the cake onto your serving vessel, by very gently pushing the cake off the springform pan and the parchment paper at the same time. Use a bench scraper to help you push cake off. Do this only when you have just taken the cake out from the refrigerator as the cake will be firm enough to move around.
4. Eat it soon.  As with all gelatine based dessert, it will soften rather quickly. Refrigerate any uneaten cake swiftly back into the refrigerator.

Tips

To get even layers
-Check that you set your springform pan on a flat surface in the refrigerator.
-If you are not using a springform pan, keep in mind that some baking pans/trays warp with use. Check that the one you use sits completely flat. This is another reason why I prefer using a springform pan as it does sit flat, ensuring even layers within the cake.

Alternative vessels
-If you do not have a springform pan, you do not have to go out to buy one. Although you will not be able to remove the cake from whatever vessel you assemble it in, it will still turn out really nice in a clear glass dish with 90 degree sides (that is, it must have straight sides) or a baking tray. It must have at least 1.25″ (3cm) high sides. I have made a Mirror Jelly Cake Slice in a rectangle nonstick pan that measured approximately 9.5″ X 7″ X 1.25″ (24 cm X 18 cm X 3 cm). Turned out fine. You might want to work along that size of a vessel too.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

Cornish Pasty! This 9″ (23 cm) pastry, yes it it big, was photographed fresh from my oven. It was baked until golden brown with the help of a generous egg wash.

I had to make it as you really cannot be assured of good, freshly baked Cornish Pasty unless you happen to be in England. Then again, good Cornish Pasty is hard to come by even in England itself. I have tasted Cornish Pasty from Cornwall that were not really good either. If you know your Cornish Pasty, you will notice that while my beef based filling for the pasty looks about right, the pastry is off. You are right. I prefer a lighter, flaky, buttery tasting pastry and that is what I baked. It should not be called Cornish Pasty then. What should I call it?

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