Gelatin is one of the most important setting agents in pastry. An odorless, tasteless and colorless thickening agent that forms a gel when ultimately combined with a liquid, it is also one of the most misunderstood ingredients in pastry. It forms a crystal clear gel that melts quickly and cleanly when eaten.
Use too little and the product won’t set, use too much and you can bounce it across the room. Finding just the right balance so the item won’t sag when released from its mold can be tricky. When done right, it adds body that goes unnoticed.
Aspic is perhaps the most extreme use of gelatin. Some recipes for pate de fruit and Turkish Delight also use gelatin in an extreme form. But for most desserts you definitely don’t want to know it has been set with gelatin. Gelatin has many uses in pastry including Bavarian Cream, mousses, and cold soufflés as well as in homemade ice cream to prevent it from becoming too hard in the freezer. I use it in pastry cream and lemon curd so they maintain their shape when piped and left at room temperature. Continue reading