Remove these sassy sunshine slices from the freezer or fridge an hour or so before you want to use them so they soften slightly before eating. Of course, these can be made for the kiddies, but for adults I like to add a generous ½ cup of lovely, luscious limoncello to 1 ¾ cups of water. No need to heat it; just dissolve the jelly in boiling water, add the gelatin leaves, then finish with the limoncello and sugar. Excerpt from Everyday Easy by Lorraine Pascale.
From Everyday Easy by Lorraine Pascale. Text copyright 2012 by Lorraine Pascale. Photographs copyright 2012 by Myles New. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Equipment (Jell-O shots): Kettle, small wide bowl, large tray or 12-cup muffin pan, heatproof measuring cup
Equipment (Limoncello): Medium saucepan, zester, 1-quart glass bottle with a stopper or a Ball jar (sterilized), fine sieve
Put the kettle on to boil. Then put the gelatin leaves into a small wide bowl, cover them with cold water, and set aside to soften.
Cut the lemons in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, scoop out the juicy flesh. It takes a bit of wiggling and getting squirted by the juice, but you will get there! The trick is to not break through the skin. (You don’t need the flesh here, but afterward I like to squeeze the juice out and freeze it in an ice cube tray for handy lemon juice needs at other times.)
Set each lemon shell half, cut side up, on a large tray, or put each one in the cup of a 12-cup muffin pan. If you have 14 shells, then nestle the remaining two on top in between the others and they should sit still.
Next, break up the lemon gelatin a bit and put it into a heatproof measuring cup, then pour over enough hot water to reach 1¾ cups.
Pick up the gelatin leaves — they will feel all soft. Gently squeeze out as much liquid as you can from them, discard the bowl of water and then put the soft gelatin leaves into the gelatin and hot water. Stir constantly until they dissolve. Then stir in the lemon essence, if using (sometimes the lemon gelatin just is not lemony enough), and sugar until dissolved.
Use the gelatin to fill each lemon shell right up to the very top so it is almost overflowing. Let the shells cool down for about 5 minutes and then put them in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up (but not much longer or they will freeze!). They will set in the fridge also, but allow double the time.
Once they are firm, remove them from the freezer (or fridge). Then, using a sharp, nonserrated knife, cut them in half, straight down, lengthwise, and there you have it!
To prepare the containers for this luscious lemon drink, sterilize a 1-quart glass bottle with a stopper or a Ball jar in the dishwasher on the hottest wash, or carefully put it in just-boiled water (off the heat) for a couple of minutes and dry with a clean tea towel.
Put the sugar in a medium saucepan over a low to medium heat with the water. Cook for a few minutes, giving it a stir from time to time, until the sugar has melted. Then turn up the heat, bring to a boil, and leave to bubble away for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, give the lemons a wash in hot soapy water to get rid of the shiny, waxy coating and then rinse and dry them well. Finely grate the zest, avoiding the white pith, and set aside.
Remove the syrup from the heat, carefully add the vodka, and stir in the lemon zest.
Pour into the sterilized bottle or jar and leave to infuse for at least 1 day, but up to 3 months. The flavor will develop further the longer you leave it.
Once ready, strain the liquid through a fine sieve to remove the zest. Serve freezer cold.