Absinthe jelly

Serves 4

You must be wondering why I haven't done a jelly for a while. Well I was saving up for the big pre-Christmas one, and let me tell you, no jelly makes as much of an impact as this one. Absinthe, a liquor made with wormwood and other herbs, is fearfully strong, but not as strong as it used to be when it got such a bad reputation that it was prohibited in some countries. In Switzerland the 96-year-old ban was only lifted earlier this year. Bohemians and artists like Van Gogh used to drink it, and now that it has been re-introduced another generation of artists can take to it. If you don't happen to have a bottle of absinthe knocking around, then another heavy-duty spirit like grappa would work well. If you want your jelly to have that green tinge, then here's your chance to dig out the crème de menthe from the back of the cupboard.

450ml water
150ml absinthe
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
200g caster sugar
9g leaf gelatine (5 sheets)

Bring the water and lemon juice to the boil, add the sugar and stir until dissolved then remove from heat. Soak the gelatine leaves in a shallow bowl of cold water for a minute or so until soft. Squeeze out the water, add to the syrup and stir until dissolved. Add the absinthe then pour into individual jelly moulds or one large one. Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours or so until the jelly is set. To serve, dip the moulds briefly in boiling water then turn out the jellies or jelly on to plates or a serving dish and offer thick Jersey or organic cream to go with it.

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