Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jelly + custard = disaster

I found myself wanting something sweet last night after dinner, so I leafed through the cold desserts and selected melrose cream (p203), entirely on the basis that I happened to have all the necessary ingredients in the cupboard.

It seemed quite simple: you make a custard, then make up the contents of a packet of jelly, combine the two, and chill until set.

I was a bit short on time, so instead of mixing up the jelly after making the custard, I did the jelly first, which would give it time to cool down while I was making the custard. Add boiling water to jelly crystals, stir until dissolved, and place in fridge: Done.

The prospect of making custard was not particularly daunting - I've made quite a few successful custard-type desserts by now, which probably made me a bit over-confident. I stood at the stove, stirring my milk, sugar and custard powder mixture for some time, but it didn't seem to thicken.

After a while, there was a bit of resistance as I moved the spoon along the bottom of the pan. I knew some of the custard was sticking to the bottom, but the rest of it still wasn't thickening.

The minutes ticked by, and I started to catch a whiff of scorchy odour as I stirred the pot: I had to get that pot off the heat. The custard had thickened a little, but hadn't yet reached the consistency I was wanting. Still, if I left it on any longer, the custard would be entirely unusable.

By this time I was fed up with my melrose cream and already convinced it was a failure. I wanted to get that custard out of the scorched pan as soon as possible, so I stirred in the jelly mixture straight away. Neither mixture had cooled down much at this point - and I gather they're both supposed to have cooled by the time you combine them - but I mixed them together anyway.

The result was a weird sort of curdled-looking, bright pink mixture, which didn't look appealing at all. It hadn't set by the time I was ready for bed, so I left it in the fridge and didn't look at it until tonight.

My melrose cream did not look any better once it had set. The mixture had partially separated, leaving a layer of jelly on top and a dodgy mush underneath. But when I dug a spoon in, I was surprised to see that it that mushy stuff actually looked quite edible. So I tasted some: very sweet, but otherwise not too bad.

Stunned, I scooped some into a bowl, adding a little banana because an entire bowl of pink mush just didn't seem right, and sat down to eat. Unfortunately, after the first few spoonfuls, I was starting to revise my assessment of the dessert being edible. The texture, which I suspect ought to be light and fluffy, was more that of a curdled substance than anything. And the sickly sweet raspberry flavour was more than I could handle.

My attempt at melrose cream was a bit of a disaster, but I was able to glimpse the kind of dessert it's supposed to be - and I think if it's done right, it could be quite nice. Choose a less sickly flavour of jelly, don't burn your custard, and wait till both mixtures have cooled down before you try to combine them: do this, and you might just have a decent dessert on your hands. If nothing else, you'd be hard-pressed to produce a worse version than mine!


  1. Have just stumbled across your blog but what an EPIC find! Love it! One of the unappealing things about Edmonds is the lack of pictures so you don't *really* know how it's supposed to turn out! You've just changed my fear into interest

  2. Yeah, it can be difficult not knowing what it's supposed to look like, but on the upside, you never get disappointed that yours doesn't look like the picture - and it NEVER does!

    Also: "EPIC" is a pretty flattering description for my little blog! Thanks!


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