The Secret Weapon for Killer No-Bake Desserts
Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we’re sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: We’re demystifying gelatin, and teaching you how to use it in all of its forms.
Gelatin can be intimidating. We fear what we don’t know — and this ingredient is shrouded in mystery. In its ability to transform liquids into jelly, it’s almost alchemic.
The nitty-gritty of what goes into gelatin may be unpleasant to ponder, but thankfully cooking with it is a snap. Just stick to these basic rules, and you’ll be unmolding a panna cotta (to rounds of thunderous applause) in no time.
Know Your Ingredient.
Gelatin comes in two forms: powdered and sheet (also known as leaf gelatin). While the sheet form is more prevalent in Europe, you can track it down in most specialty baking stores stateside — and, of course, on our trusty friend the internet. Both forms will do the job, but some claim that sheet gelatin has a purer taste and texture. If you need to substitute one for the other, Bon Appètit's rule of thumb is that four sheets of leaf gelatin roughly equals a tablespoon of the powdered stuff.
More: For strict vegetarians and vegans, there are a number of gelatin alternatives — get our community’s suggestions here.
Let It Bloom.
Like flowers and adolescents, gelatin needs time to bloom. This means it can’t be added to any recipe as-is — first, it must take a quick soak in some cold water. This hydrates the gelatin and ensures that your final product will have a smooth texture.