Red, White, and Blue Terrine
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This visually striking dessert is as healthful as it is gorgeous and perfect for the warm weather that is fast approaching! Using plant-based agar rather than animal-based gelatin provides the perfect jelly mold. Though it takes a little time to prepare, it’s well-worth it for a special occasion and impressive presentation. (Thanks to Barbara Lyons for testing and photographing this recipe!)
ADVANCE PREPARATION REQUIRED
2-1/2 cups white grape juice, divided
2 teaspoons agar agar powder
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 -1/2 to 2 cups fresh blueberries (one pint container)
1 -1/2 to 2 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced lengthwise
2 ripe (but not overripe) bananas, peeled and sliced into coins
Have ready an 8-x-4-inch (20 x 10 cm) loaf pan.
Place one cup of the juice in a saucepan, and sprinkle the agar over it, allowing the agar to soften for a few minutes. Turn the heat on medium-high, and stir until the agar is completely dissolved and the juice begins to boil. Stir in the remaining juice and the agave and remove from heat.
Pour a thin layer (about ¼-inch deep) of the juice/agar combination into the bottom of the loaf pan, and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until it’s set, but still sticky. (This layer is to hold the strawberries in place.)
After 30 minutes, arrange the sliced strawberries on top of what is now your agar jelly. Arrange them in pretty rows, with the prettiest sides facing down. Next, carefully arrange the sliced bananas on top of the strawberries. Finally, carefully place the blueberries in an even layer on top of the bananas. (Be sure to discard any crushed, soft, or bruised blueberries.)
Gently pour the remaining agar jelly evenly over the berries. It may start to jell immediately, so work from side to side to make sure it’s distributed evenly. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely chilled and jelled. This may take several hours, though overnight is preferable.
Remove from the refrigerator when ready to serve. To unmold, you may need to place the loaf pan in hot water or use a hair dryer to loosen the terrine from the loaf pan. You may also carefully run a knife along the sides of the loaf pan to help loosen it. Carefully invert the terrine over a serving plate and unmold. If not serving immediately, return it to the refrigerator to stay set.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Agar is basically a vegetarian gelatin made from seaweed. (Commercially, it’s often sold as “agar agar.”) This tasteless substance has historically been used in Japan, Malay, and Indonesia (agar is Malay for “jelly”) for desserts.
Serving Suggestions and Variations
Other fruits that work well for this terrine include blackberries, currants, or pitted cherries. Use other fruits for garnish.
Tips from The Compassionate Cook
*You may use other juices, but you don’t want anything so opaque that it would hinder the appearance of the fruit itself. Sparkling juice or wine is also an option.
*If the juice is tart or the fruit isn’t perfectly sweet, you may add more agave.
*The terrine will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days. I recommend not unmolding it until you are ready to serve.
*You can find agar agar in Asian grocery stores or online at my Amazon store.