Chinese
Chrysanthemum Flower Tea Jelly 菊花茶凍

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Like a moment frozen in time, this little jelly captures the beauty of the delicate chrysanthemum flower. This small dessert is a reinterpretation of the classic Chinese chrysanthemum tea, relaxing and regenerating (click the link to find out how to make some!) which is loved by adults and children alike.

As far as I'm concerned, the joy of chrysanthemum tea has always been the fact that the flowers, yes! real flowers, are used in tea. Dried, twisted and wrinkled flowers, which, once blessed with warm water, will bloom in the fullness of their original, delicate, dancing beauty. Fascinating!

We capture the beauty of this tea, of that moment of bloom, with our Chrysanthemum Flower Jelly 菊花茶凍, where the delicate taste of this flower tea can be enjoyed against the full glory of the flower's beauty.
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To get the most beautiful effect you will have to use the chrysanthemums with long petals. Oh, these cuties are my favorite! So elegant! These flowers have been the inspiration of Chinese artists and poets for centuries.

A beautiful example of flower-inspired art above – isn't it just lovely… chrysanthemums, butterflies and a kitten! That delicately simple yet so descriptive touch of the humble Chinese brush.

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To prepare this jelly we will use agar agar 瓊脂, a thickener and gelling agent based on seaweed. This gelling agent is easier to set than gelatin and firms more, making it perfect for holding the petals of “blooming” flowers.

Agar agar comes in strips, flakes and also as a dust. We have used agar-agar strips as they are the most commonly encountered. To prepare agar agar strips, first soak them in water.

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The soaked strips are then boiled until the strips are completely dissolved. This is all the preparation needed for agar agar strips.

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We used white sugar for sweetening instead of the usual brown sugar we use when making chrysanthemum tea. The flavor of brown sugar is milder, more flavorful, but we chose white sugar to keep the jelly lighter in color to highlight the flower petals more clearly.

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Once the agar agar is dissolved and sweetened it's time to make the tea! Add the dried chrysanthemums, cover and let it ferment. You will find that the delicate fragrance of the chrysanthemum will fill the air in a very soothing way.

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A note on molds and demoulding: I used these half dome silicone molds. Perfect for work! You can still use any shape as long as it is larger than the bloomed flowers. You can also use simply shaped cups or bowls as molds as agar agar jellies are quite easy to unmold.

With silicone molds you just need to give a light pressure to the mold and the jelly will come out immediately. Using the rigid molds, pass the tip of a knife along the edge of the jelly, turn it over and pat it. It should come out with a little persuasion.

Everything is ready and it's time to make some jellies! Pour the prepared fragrant tea into the mold about 3/4 of the way up. Use the chopsticks to grab the chrysanthemum by the green part (I don't know the name), place the flower petals side down into the tea-filled mold. Gently shake the flower and watch the petals flare. Top with a little more tea. That's pretty much it. Now you just have to wait for it to stabilize.

My jellies are ready! Wowzer, these Chrysanthemum Flower Jellies 菊花茶凍 are something special! Golden globes of chrysanthemum in bloom caught in their moment of ethereal beauty, infused with the delicately light floral flavor of chrysanthemum. Enjoy!

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Chrysanthemum flower jelly recipe

(serves 6) Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking/brewing time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Directions:

Soak the agar agar strips in cold water to cover for 15 minutes. Drain, wring out, and then add the agar agar strips and 3 1/4 cups of water to a pot. (If using powdered agar, whisk it in water.) Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes until the agar agar strips are completely dissolved and the liquid has reduced to 2 1/4 cups.

Remove from the heat and add the dried chrysanthemums, pushing the flowers under water. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Place the silicone mold on a tray and scoop the tea to fill a single mold 75% full. Use a chopstick to grab a chrysanthemum by the green part and lift it into the mold. Once in the tea, shake the flower slightly to spread the petals. Working quickly, since the gelatin solidifies quite quickly, do the same for the rest of the molds. Distribute the rest of the tea evenly into the molds.

Chill for an hour in the refrigerator until the gelatin has solidified.

Serve cold. When removing from the mold, gently squeeze the silicone mold until the gelatin comes away. Place the plate over the jelly and invert it onto a serving plate. Enjoy!

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.

Fabulous Flowers to Hong Kong Cuisine:

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