Not all of us have ovens. For those of us who don’t have this kitchen appliance but love dessert, no-bake dessert recipes are our go-to recipes to satisfy our sweet tooth.
However, did you know that unflavored gelatin is the secret ingredient in xiao long baos? It is! That’s because gelatin easily melts again when heated. That’s why it’s always best to eat xiao long baos when it’s still hot! If you let it cool, the soup that’s the main reason these special Chinese dumplings are so delicious and popular can be less soupy and become a little thick if allowed to cool.
Xiao long baos aren’t the only use for gelatin in dishes! There are other reasons to use powdered gelatin and the most common reason is making no-bake desserts. If you have ever had trouble making no-bake desserts that use gelatin, don’t worry! Gelatin can be easy to use! You just need to know how to use it so you can make your favorite no-bake desserts easily and with little fuss.
Here’s everything you need to know to use gelatin in any recipe:
1 You need to bloom gelatin first.
No matter what recipe you use, this is the first step in using gelatin. Read over your ingredients list and the steps of your recipe, and you should see this as part of the first few steps in making your dish.
What exactly does it mean to “bloom gelatin”?
Blooming gelatin, usually in cold, not hot, water, basically means letting the gelatin absorb a liquid so that it may dissolve and, later on, set evenly without any lumps. This is usually done by sprinkling powdered gelatin into cold water and allowing this to sit for about 3 to 5 minutes.
You will see a difference almost immediately. The gelatin granules will turn from an opaque color to a translucent color almost immediately when it hits the cold water. The most common liquid to use is water but if your recipe calls for it, you can use milk, juices, or even other liquids as long as its cold.
If you don’t bloom or soak the gelatin granules in a cold liquid before adding it to something hot, you are more likely to get lumps or even develop hard clumps of gelatin in your gelatin.
2 Add to hot, not boiling, liquid.
Once you have bloomed your gelatin, heat up the liquid that you want to become a gel. You don’t need to bring the liquid to a boil but instead, just need to heat it up, so that it is hot enough to dissolve the bloomed gelatin.
How can you tell if the mixture is hot enough? Gelatin starts to melt around our body temperature (98 degrees F or 37 degrees C) and can be heated up to around 120 to 140 degrees F (50 to 60 degrees C) before it loses its gelling power.
3 Chill it completely.
Once your gelatin is completely dissolved, pour the mixture into the desired mold and place it in the refrigerator. Allow the gelatin to set the mixture at least 4 hours or better yet, overnight, to completely cool and become set. If you don’t allow the gelatin to completely set, you may end up with a dessert that’s half liquid, half solid.
4 You can easily remelt gelatin, however….
If you’re not ready to use your gelatin mixture, you may find that your gelatin has begun to set. If you’re still preparing your dessert and it has set, you can gently reheat your gelatin mixture. Reheat it however only until the gelatin melts, stirring, and becomes a liquid again.
This is one of the great qualities of gelatin. Unlike gulaman, gelatin is easy to remelt and allow it to reset. Gulaman, however, needs to be reheated at a much higher temperature than gelatin to remelt and even then, it’s harder to ensure that it will melt evenly. That’s why when it comes to no-bake desserts, it’s easier to work with gelatin and remedy mistakes you make but gulaman will set faster.
5 Don’t boil gelatin!
You may make a mistake but don’t make this mistake! Boiling mixtures with gelatin can negate the gelatin’s power! This is why gelatins need to be heated to a certain temperature and not beyond it. If you do find that you heated gelatin beyond its heating point, you will discover that the gelatin won’t set anymore. Start over if you do.
Once your gelatin dessert has had enough time to cool and set completely, unmold it! If your gelatin refuses to come out of its mold, heat up some water and submerge the mold in the water for a few seconds. This should melt the outer layer and eventually release the vacuum the gelatin is in. It should pop right on out!
Gelatin is a fantastic ingredient to learn to use properly in the kitchen. You will be able to create fabulous desserts that don’t require the oven and best of all, you, your friends, and family will benefit from eating your gelatin dessert creations.