I never knew what elderflower was as a child. I figured that you could make alcohol with it, provided it was related to elderberries, because otherwise this scene didn't make much sense (to the extent that Monty Python really ever made sense), but I had no concept of what it tasted like.
So when I moved to England, and found elderflower-flavored things everywhere, I was a bit surprised. I feel like in this day and age we like to think that we've at least heard of the big flavor combinations of the countries we're familiar with, but somehow I never noticed this one, even when I was living in England for 6 months in college.
But I'm glad I've discovered it now – better late than never, eh? Elderflower is a lovely flavor: refreshing but a touch sweet, floral without that taste of perfume that so many flowers have. Elderflower cordial is a wonderful drink on a hot day, and St Germain, which is an elderflower liqueur, adds a nice light sweetness to cocktails.
But I think my favorite way to enjoy elderflower is – surprise, surprise – in desserts! It's been warming up around these parts (not that you'd know it from the crazy grey-green skies today), and even I'm not always in the mood for chocolate or rich desserts. So when we got some free elderflower in our weekly veg box, I jumped at the opportunity to make something light and refreshing for a change.
This elderflower and raspberry jelly (Jell-O? Gelee?) fit the bill. The only thing I would have changed would be to cut the sugar a bit, because it was a little too sweet for me. I also might try this as a popsicle recipe, without the gelatin of course, because I think it would be just the ticket on a sticky summer day.
Elderflower and Raspberry Jelly:
adapted from Cottage Smallholder
In a medium pot, dissolve:
100g vanilla sugar
2 c water
5 big elderflower heads, flowers pulled off and stalks discarded.
125g of raspberries
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Bring mixture up to simmer, slowly. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let steep 5 minutes. Remove the raspberries with a slotted spoon and divide among 5-6 glasses or teacups. Strain liquid into a separate bowl or pitcher.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, soften (as per packet instructions):
4 sheets (3 tsp) flavorless gelatine
Stir gelatin into hot strained liquid and dissolve completely. Divide liquid among prepared glasses/cups and place in the fridge to set overnight.