Osmanthus, used in traditional Chinese medicine to help dispel heat, makes a refreshing dessert
If you are feeling cranky from the relentless heat and humidity, cool down with osmanthus jelly.
Those who adore Chinese period dramas likely know that gui hua gao, or osmanthus cake, is a prized dessert of the imperial family.
Here is a modern version made with konnyaku jelly.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that osmanthus can help dispel heat and has detoxifying properties. It is also said to help with raising mental alertness and relieving coughs.
Osmanthus has been cultivated in China for more than 2,000 years and has traditionally been associated with autumn and the moon.
Today, it is still valued for its use in perfumery and food products and you can get the dried flower at Chinese medical shops.
Even when dried, it has a distinct fragrance you should notice right away from the moment you unseal the packaging.
If you are particular about aesthetics, pick through the osmanthus to remove impurities such as bits of tree bark. It helps to have a pair of tweezers. This is a rather tedious process so I usually pick out the larger pieces and then rinse the osmanthus.
To make the jelly, I choose unsweetened konnyaku jelly powder. This way, you can control the amount of sugar used. I also use more water so that the resulting jelly is softer in texture.
I add wolfberries, said to boost eye power, for sweetness.
It is best to keep your unused dried osmanthus in an air-tight container in the fridge. You can boil it as tea and add a fig for natural sweetness.
1 packet (10g) of konnyaku jelly powder (unsweetened)
16g dried osmanthus (after picking out bits of branches and leaves)
1 litre water
40g wolfberries, rinsed and set aside
Prepare a heatproof container of 21.5cm by 15cm by 6.5cm in size or a jelly mould of suitable size.
1. Mix the konnyaku powder and sugar. Set aside.2. Place the osmanthus flowers in a sieve and rinse.
3. Heat the water in a pot. Before the water boils, add the osmanthus. Turn heat to medium low and simmer for 3 minutes.
4. Add the konnyaku powder and sugar mixture gradually, stirring continuously.
5. Let it simmer and continue stirring for 5 minutes.
6. Add the wolfberries (below) and cook for another 3 minutes.
7. Pour the mixture into a mould. Allow it to cool. Cover and chill it. Allow to set.
8. Serve chilled.
Makes 12 pieces
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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