My absolute favourite smell in the whole world isn’t freshly baked bread, or melted chocolate or real vanilla extract. It’s jasmine. In the past few weeks while Cape Town has been deciding whether it is Spring or Winter, the wonky weather has resulted in a serious plus; masses and masses of jasmine blossoms in my back courtyard. Somedays, I’ll make an excuse to just go out and stand outside unashamedly, like an idiot, inhaling the scent deeply like some kind of back-alley addict. Other days I’ll try and be more aloof about it and look for an excuse to hang up laundry or pull out some weeds (those who know me will have immediately seen through my farse) while I inhale deeply which probably makes me look like I’m about to pass out. Which I kinda am – from pleasure!
If you have some jasmine blooming in your garden, you’ll want to pick it for this recipe and then serve it to your friends so you can brag about the fact that you made it with homegrown jasmine. You can also throw in the word ‘organic’ for an added ‘wow’ effect. The sexy sway of the jelly, the creamy voluptuous panna cotta and the heady scent of the jasmine all make this one heck of a dessert – especially served with some shortbread biscuits on the side. If you don’t have jasmine, try rose petals, rose geranium, lavender (but be gentle) – or if you prefer not to eat your flowers, infuse the jelly with a few bruised sticks of lemongrass, green tea leaves or even some fruity tea infusions! Worst case scenario, grab some from your neighbour, isn’t that what neighbours are for anyway?
Jasmine and Coconut Panna Cotta Jellies
150g Natura Golden Caster Sugar
1 cup of packed jasmine flowers
8 sheets gelatin leaves
Coconut Panna Cotta
1/2 cup cream
110g Natura Golden Caster Sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
5 sheets gelatin
Place the water and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and add the jasmine flowers. Heat until the syrup starts to simmer then remove and allow to stand for 1 hour to infuse. Place the gelatin leaves in cold water to soften. Heat the syrup again gently, add the softened gelatin leaves then stir to dissolve. Pour the jelly into desired moulds (fill them only halfway) then place in the refrigerator to set.
To make the panna cotta, combine the cream, sugar, vanilla and coconut milk in a saucepan and heat gently (don’t boil). Place the gelatin leaves in cold water to soften. Add the softened gelatin leaves to the warm milk mixture then stir to dissolve. Allow to cool to room temperature then pour over the set jelly. Refrigerate again until completely set. To unmould dip the mould briefly into boiling water then pop the jellies out onto serving plates.
TIP These jellies are delicious served with buttery lavender shortbread!