Over the weekend, I made crema catalana 3 times and all 3 times, I failed to get it right. I don't want to give up or in and cheat with a creme brulee or cream caramel which are easier to make because they are baked whereas crema catalana is slowly cooked in a pot and left to set. The first time, the whole pot of cream curdled 18 minutes into cooking. Heat too high. But the smell of milk, sugar, vanilla and cream--heaven! The second time, I gave up after stirring the cream for 34 minutes and it still didn't set. I then googled and found some recipes that include cornflour and that made a yukky, grainy, curdled custard that didn't set either. I felt like Napolean must have felt at Waterloo. To regain some confidence, I decided to try something easier: Japanese Coffee Jelly, CJC.
JCJ is often found in those sushi train restaurants, you know, those that serve sushi on conveyor belts made to look like train tracks complete with a caboose. A great idea to some but silly and juvenile to me. Once in a lonnng while when I do venture into sushi train restaurants (and always regret after), I usually make Wey (he loves sushi trains) pick the plates off the tracks for me. Sushi train takes the class and taste, literally, out of sushi. But this is about coffee jelly.
My friend Tina made this jelly for lunch one day, and as promised to someone who requested it, here's Tina's JCJ. I highly recommend it next time you need to serve a dessert and you don't have much time. It tastes great, looks simple but is very classy especially if you serve it in a fancy glass. It also doesn't pack as much calories than, say, a cobbler, and has all the ingredients a coffee addict needs--coffee, cream and sugar, basically all the wrong things.
You can either serve your cream whipped or as is. I prefer the jelly with the liquid cream. A simple dessert like this needs to be dressed up, so you should use some fancy glasses or unusual molds.
For a less coffee-y flavor, u can reduce the coffee powder and add cocoa powder instead but the jelly will not be clear.
Japanese Coffee Jelly (makes 4 to 5 glasses)
10 g* gelatine powder
5 T** fine sugar
2 T instant coffee powder
serve with: whipping or pouring cream
*I don't have a digital scale and this amount is about 1 (slightly heaped) tablepoon. Do adjust amount of gelatine to your liking.
** This amount is just right for me. You may want to reduce to 4 tablespoons especially if serving with sweetened cream.
1. Boil the water. Put the gelatine powder into a small bowl, add 5 to 6 tablespoons of the boiling water to mix until gelatine is dissolved.
2. Switch heat off, add the coffee powder and sugar, stirring well to until sugar is dissolved.
3. Add the gelatine mixture to the coffee mixture, stir well. Pour into molds or glasses, leave to cool and chill until set in the fridge.
4. Pour cream/pipe a rosette over the set jelly and serve.
note: to speed up the cooling process, you can use 250 ml boiling water to dissolve the coffee & sugar (plus a few tablespoon to dissolve the gelatine) and top up with another 250 ml of cold water. The jelly won't set in hot weather until it is chilled in the fridge.