If you ever take it into your head to get yourself a human brain gelatin mold (c’mon, what could be more appropriate for Halloween?) this is a must-try recipe.
Naturally, for the rest — or the beginning — of the year, this recipe works perfectly when the dessert is made in some other type of gelatin mold and the strawberry jam is used either sauce or served from a serving bowl.
Tips for making the gelatin
Here are some tips to get perfect gelatin brains which release easily from the mold:
- Keep the gelatin mass runny enough before you pour it into the brain gelatin mold. If the mass is too thick and fluffy, the gelatin won’t release well from the mold. So, if the mass is too thick, it’s better to beat it with the electric mixer for a very short while until it gets runnier.
- Heat the cream and gelatin powder mixture steaming hot (but not boiling!). That also helps create runny consistency to the gelatin mass. Check that all gelatin powder is dissolved.
- Rinsing the mold with cold water before pouring in the gelatin mass also helps release the ready gelatin.
- Work swiftly, don’t let the runny gelatin mass set but pour it into the mold immediately.
- After pouring the runny gelatin mass into the mold, you can wait for a minute or two so that the mass starts to set. Then it’s easier to place the empty jar in the gelatin mass so that the jar doesn’t sink too deep.
- The gelatin comes loose easiest when it’s properly set. Refrigerating it overnight brings the best result.
- To help release the gelatin from the mold, rinse the mold under hot, running water for a minute or maximum two. Be sure that the whole mold is rinsed thoroughly. Don’t let the gelatin get any water and don’t burn your hands with the hot water! The water doesn’t have to be scalding hot.
- After checking that the gelatin comes loose, work swiftly again. Pour in the strawberry jam, place the serving plate upside down on the mold and just turn the whole thing over, holding all parts firmly together. Carefully check that the gelatin comes completely loose from the mold before you lift it to prevent strawberry jam from flooding.
- It’s good to serve the gelatin from a plate with slightly rising edges (not like the serving plates I have in these photos…). When cutting the gelatin, the strawberry jam doesn’t flood the table.
These gelatin brains have quite firm texture. I think it’s somehow close to marshmallow. Somehow. The texture has to be firm, because fluffier or softer texture wouldn’t produce that natural-brain-looking result. And the gelatin simply wouldn’t get loose from the mold. I have plenty of personal experiences of that…
Well, it’s not nice to experience strawberry jam flood when you thought the gelatin will get nicely loose from the mold, but in reality the gelatin got stuck to the mold and all the strawberry jam is flooding the serving plate and even worse, the floor. That’s why I wanted to make this recipe foolproof and give some tips how to ultimately succeed.
One important thing still: Real vanilla brings the tastiest result. I did experiments also with vanilla extract, but real, ground vanilla beans or seeds from a vanilla bean taste so good that there is no reason to sacrifice the savor with vanilla extract or vanillin.
But let’s take a look of the whole preparation process:
Sprinkle the gelatin powder on 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream. The best result you get if you mix the cream all the time while sprinkling slowly the gelatin powder. Set the bowl aside and let the gelatin powder soften in the cream.
Put the rest of the cream (1 1/2 cups = 360 ml) in a large bowl. Add the sweetener and the vanilla.
Whip until stiff peaks form…
Heat the cream and gelatin powder mixture until steaming hot but not boiling. Mix to ensure that all the gelatin dissolves completely.
Drizzle the hot cream mixture into the whipped cream mixture, beating all the time with an electric mixer. The final mixture should be runny with just a hint of fluffiness.
Quickly rinse the gelatin mold under cold water. Pour the runny gelatin mixture immediately into the gelatin mold, so before the gelatin starts to set.
Take an empty plastic, ceramic or glass jar, 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. Grease the outer surface of the jar with oil or softened butter to help remove the jar from the ready gelatin. Place the jar carefully in the middle of the gelatin mass.
If the gelatin mixture is still runny, you can wait for a couple of minutes before inserting the jar so that the mass starts to set and gets thicker. Don’t press the jar deeper than 2 inches (5 cm), otherwise the ready gelatin will collapse when you remove it from the mold.
After inserting the jar, refrigerate the whole thing overnight.
On the next day, remove the jar very carefully. Start to move it very slowly doing circular movement so that the jar doesn’t tear any pieces from the gelatin but comes loose neatly. I swear I took photos from this phase too, but I simply cannot find them in my computer. I wonder who ate them during the transfer from my camera to the computer… I even shot tethered.
So, after removing the jar, you should have a nice place in the middle of the gelatin where you pour the strawberry jam.
But before pouring in the strawberry jam, you have to make sure that the gelatin releases completely from the mold. Rinse the mold under hot, running water ensuring that the complete mold is rinsed. Notice that NO gelatin should be in touch with water, just the outer surface of the mold.
After rinsing, carefully and slowly remove the gelatin from the mold starting from the edges. Press the edges with your fingers to see if the gelatin comes loose. If you have problems in removing the gelatin, continue rinsing the problematic parts with hot water for a short while until they come loose.
When the edges have come loose, tilt the mold gently to loosen the rest of the gelatin.
After you have successfully removed the gelatin from the mold, put it very gently back to the mold and quickly pour the strawberry jam into the hole in the middle.
Place the serving plate upside down on top of the mold.
Hold both the mold and the serving plate firmly together and quickly turn over the whole thing.
Extremely carefully remove the mold ensuring that the gelatin comes loose nicely and completely.
|Per serving if 10 servings in total:
|Per serving if 15 servings in total:
|Per serving if 20 servings in total:
My experiments with this recipe
I simply had to get a human brain gelatin mold for this Halloween. I’m going to celebrate my birthday and throw a party for my dearest friends. Naturally, the offerings are as creepy, gory and dreadful looking as possible.
So, brain-shaped gelatin was one of my plans. But what kind of gelatin it should be? I had some unsweetened, green, Waldmeister-flavored Götterspeise, bought from Germany. I was planning to sweeten that with Zsweet and use the combination of heavy cream and water as fluid. I’ve never tried Götterspeise with cream, but the idea sounded good.
The result was nice, both tastewise and lookwise. Brains with light green color and creamy Waldmeister flavor were absolutely perfect.
Then I got the idea to make a blog post and recipe for brain-shaped gelatin for Halloween. Well, people around the world cannot get Waldmeister-flavored Götterspeise — German equivalent for Jell-O — that easily, so I had to invent something else.
I have seen brain-shaped cake pops and other brain stuff small in size for Halloween. My eye caught especially the Cake Ball Brains by Hungry Happenings where the white chocolate covered brains were filled with chocolate cake and red cherry “blood”. How brilliant idea!
I wanted to have some red stuff oozing out from my brains as well. Hah, not from my brains but from the gelatin brains I was going to make.
Since I have recipes for sugar-free strawberry and raspberry jams, one of those felt perfect “blood” for the gelatin brains. Well, I simply tried both jams. I and my test group (= family) liked more the strawberry jam, so that it was.
But the gelatin then. I was thinking of white and something simple. Organic heavy cream! That sounded perfect: natural and low in carbs.
I whipped 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream with 2/3 cup (160 ml) Zsweet (I didn’t have Swerve at that point yet) and 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla beans until soft peaks formed. Then I dissolved 2 teaspoons gelatin powder in 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream and mixed that with the whipped cream mixture. That mixture I poured into the brain gelatin mold which I had rinsed with cold water to help release the ready gelatin.
I pressed an empty and greased yogurt pot in the middle of the brain to create a hole for the jam. Then I refrigerated the whole thing overnight. Next day I was excited to try out how my gelatin gets loose from the mold.
It didn’t get loose. Not at all. The biggest problem was, that the texture was too thick and fluffy and the dessert didn’t have enough gelatin powder either. The gelatin got stuck especially to those tiny convolutions of the brain. So, I needed to make firmer gelatin.
Next I made quite a similar experiment but used 2 tablespoons gelatin powder. The result was good and the gelatin released quite well from the mold, but not perfectly. In addition, the amount of gelatin powder was a little exaggerated. In general there could have been more gelatin mass in the end, the mold wasn’t completely full, not even after pressing the empty yogurt pot in the middle.
In my next experiment I used altogether 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) cream, 1 1/2 tablespoons gelatin powder, 2/3 cup (160 ml) Zsweet and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. I simply didn’t have the heart to use real vanilla in my experiments.
Instead of dissolving the gelatin in 1/2 cup (120 ml) cream, I dissolved it in the whole 1 cup (240 ml) of cream. I wanted to experiment if I get better texture in that way. A bit firmer gelatin, but still some fluffiness remaining. I also whipped the rest of the cream until stiff peaks, it was simply easier than trying to regulate how to whip soft peaks without overwhipping.
The gelatin came loose from the mold surprisingly easily and I liked the marshmallowy texture very much. Just a tad more sweetener and I had reached my goal.
But in the beginning, planning the oozing strawberry jam was another whole story. I thought I have to make a hole for the strawberry jam to the gelatin before letting it set. Maybe a greased, empty jar pressed into the runny gelatin mass would do the trick?
The gelatin mass in my first experiment was so thick that the jar was easy to press into the mass and it didn’t sink too deep. In my next experiments I waited for a while after pouring the runny gelatin mass into the mold so that the mass started to set. When I placed the empty jar in the mass, it didn’t sink too deep but just those maximum 2 inches (5 cm).
Tips for variation
If you use not-that-detailed gelatin mold, you can leave the texture of the gelatin fluffier. You can do this by dissolving the powdered gelatin in 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream and whipping the rest of the cream (2 cups = 480 ml) with the sweetener and the vanilla until stiff peaks form. Follow the directions, except use the strawberry jam as sauce or serve it separately from a serving bowl.
Nothing prevents you from using other jam than strawberry jam inside the brain-shaped gelatin. I think different-colored jams can be cool 🙂 If you are comfortable with sugar-free Jell-O, please feel free to prepare some, chop it into tiny pieces and use those pieces instead of strawberry jam. Using Jell-O instead of strawberry jam also reduces remarkably the carb count.
Have a horrible Halloween!
Next week something simple: very easy one-bowl bread recipe!