Juniper Junket

17 Nov 2012

This post was not meant to be junket. I fully intended on a charming Charlotte Russe. But, somehow I got distracted in the “invalid cookery” section of a very old Irish secondary school cookbook and the rest was history.

I know….…sacrilege.

But, don’t go off the boil. Let’s give junket a chance. Maybe you’ve had it, maybe you’ve at least heard of it. Maybe you’re thinking what is she on about now? Up until this morning, I had never journeyed into the world of junket before. Thing is, junket is not new. It’s old enough to be a classic in these parts. Still, the jolly junket was lost on me. Despite being a particularly popular pudding here, junket evolved over the years and began to mean many things to many different countries and many different people. There is even a brand called Junket that features the very sweet “Little Miss Muffet Junket” which has been peddled in various parts of the world, including once upon a time in the USA. When I embarked on my junket research, I was astounded that I had never come across it before. Now, I gotta say, I’m jousting for junket.

Junket is similar to panna cotta, except it is essentially cheese. Could there be a better combination? I would consider it a mildly sweet, silky, soft, cheese pudding. It floats and lingers on your tongue until you can’t resist squishing it up against the roof of your mouth before it slips into swallowville. The texture alone makes it tempting, but the sweet milky flavour is sheer comfort by the spoonful.

Junket is just fine prepared plain with just a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

But, if you add a drop of booze to the mix, you shall be eternally grateful.

And, if you jazz it up with juniper berries and vanilla bean, I promise you’ll be a lifelong devotee {especially if you fancy the odd G&T’}

The only stone left unturned? Why is junket confined to the “invalid” section of the cookbook?

Because I want to eat it every day.

Have you ever tried junket? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your junket stories!

Jolly Juniper Junket

Makes 6 dessert cups

700 ml full fat milk {I use raw milk from the farm, but have tested with pasteurised and will work if whole (full fat) milk}

1 tbsp sugar

1.5 tsp non GMO vegetarian rennet {readily available at healthfood stores}

3 tbsps fresh or dried juniper berries

Scraped seeds of one vanilla bean

Optional, grated nutmeg or a splash of brandy or rum

Gently warm the milk until the sugar dissolves.  Steep the juniper berries and vanilla bean seeds in the milk for one hour.  Gently reheat the milk until it reaches blood temperature (only takes a couple minutes. if you heat the milk too much the rennet won’t set). Strain berries from milk, gently stir in the rennet, and immediately pour into serving glasses or a large glass dish. If preferred, sprinkle nutmeg over the top. Let rest to set for 1.5 hours to set, and either eat at room temperature or place in the fridge overnight for a chilled treat.

If you are adding booze, add in right before the rennet.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

I will be taking part in The Kitchen Archives: From Spoon to Screen at the stunning National Library of Ireland  this Tuesday, 20 November from 7-8:30pm. Food writer and blogger, Aoife Carrigy, chairs a lively panel discussion on the whys and hows of food blogging along with a detailed prevention on food styling and photography by Donal Skehan.

“Mary’s Junket Party” image sourced from here. Food photographs and styling by Imen McDonnell 2012 with added styling tips [“sprinkle the juniper berries on top, mom”] by our little farmer who just turned 7!

 

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