Jelly is currently rather sexy. Several times in the past month I’ve visited friends for supper and been served wonderfully wibbly-wobbly creations for pudding. I’ve had fruit jellies, cocktail jellies, champagne jellies, savoury jellies (an exquisite one this, served with the cheese course and made from a spicily potent Bloody Mary mix), postprandial port jellies (passed to the left, natch) and simple, “just jelly” jellies.
I’ve turned my hand at making my own (a Negroni jelly) and I’ve even been to a 50th birthday party where some reassuringly realistic jelly boobs were presented to the birthday boy. I’m happy to say that all the chaps (plus some of the girls) got to have a little fondle and a nibble. Jelly is definitely “in”.
“Like most mums, I’ve been making jelly for the kids for yonks,” says Ali, who is a jelly-loving mother of three. “It
is probably the easiest pudding to make, short of opening a can of rice pudding and slurping some jam in, and it occurred to me why not make it for grown-ups, too? Jelly appeals to the kid in all of us and everyone loves it when
I serve some, especially when it’s made from something seriously alcoholic. My girlfriends and I all vie with each other to create the most original.”
Rather more commercially, Old Etonians Sam Bompas and Harry Parr recently tapped into the Zeitgeist and set themselves up – hugely successfully – as Bompas & Parr, creators of weird and wonderful jellies to the gentry. “We had no background in food other than enjoying it,” says Bompas. “After doing a number of jobs, which included getting fired on my first day as doorman at Agent Provocateur, we thought about running a stall at London’s Borough Market. They didn’t want to know. But during our wander around all the meat, veg and cheese stalls, we realised that something, namely a pudding stall, was missing there.”
The pair went away and pondered. They were inspired by childhood nostalgia and the knowledge that England used to be famous in the culinary world for two things – jelly and roasting. They sat down on a Tuesday and by Thursday had come up with a business plan and registered themselves at Companies House as Bompas & Parr, the jellymongers.
The pair’s first commission was the Innocent village fête, in Regent’s Park in 2007 and they’ve not looked back since. They have hosted an architectural jelly banquet for 2,000 people; a 12-course jelly breakfast at Warwick Castle; created a “walk-in cocktail” installation and flooded a building with more than four tonnes of punch for the Architectural Punch Bowl. They are Britain’s leading jelly artists and have been termed “culinary deviants” by The Guardian. Their book, Jelly with Bompas & Parr, has just been published.
“There’s not a lot that can’t be made into jelly,” says Bompas. “All you need is liquid, gelatine and plenty of imagination. We have made glow-in-the-dark jellies, flaming jellies, aphrodisiac jellies and we even created an entire Christmas dinner in jelly. There’s no end to what you can make.”
Bompas & Parr’s creations are nothing if not exotic, helped in no small part by Harry Parr’s training as an architect. He designs the company’s own bespoke moulds which can range from such blindingly obvious jelly subjects as a Victory Class submarine – “for a lucky four year old’s birthday party” – to the minarets of Brighton Pavilion, scale models of St Paul’s Cathedral and, of course, ladies’ boobies.
Indeed, there is something more than a little erotic about jelly and the boys tells me they’ve put together lusty menus for Coco de Mer as well as catering a School of Life sermon where someone got so over-excited he exposed himself. They are currently working on an aphrodisiac menu for a client and while we chat, as if on cue, an order comes through from Apartment C, the swanky new lingerie store in Marylebone.
I’m clearly not in the loop, though, for apart from the aforementioned 50th birthday boobs, I’ve yet to come across any seriously erotic jelly. I’ve seen filthy fireworks (otherwise known as pornographic pyrotechnics – remind me to tell you about them sometime) but never saucy jelly. The stuff certainly lends itself to a bit of slap and tickle, being sensually trembling, shareable and with the potential to be very alcoholic and messy. I must admit that I’ve not yet had recourse to what may best be termed “bedroom jelly”, but Bompas & Parr do a fine champagne, rose and strawberry jelly in rather modestly-sized boob shapes, with gold-leaf nipples.
Back home, I do a quick straw poll among those whom I take to be the more adventurous of my chums to see whether they’ve gone down the erotic jelly route. Strangely, I am met with almost blanket denials of anyone ever having come across such things. These range from, “Sorry chum can’t help. Neither the wife nor I are partial to jelly, assuming it eventually gets eaten, and the only refreshment you’ll find in our boudoir is a nice cup of tea,” to, “No, I hate jelly! But now I feel left out. Why haven’t I ever been made erotic jellies? Am I so lacking in sexual allure that I’ve never driven someone to the lengths of passion required for such an offering?”
Excruciatingly, one friend misunderstands or mishears exactly what it is that I am asking and confuses my innocent query with a wicked proposal. She gushingly thanks me for suggesting it and confesses that she had no idea I thought of her in that way. She’ll have to decline, she tells me, because she doubts her husband would be up for it. Oh dear, I’m really not looking forward to school drop-off tomorrow.
One chum gets very enthusiastic and promises to get up to some gelatine-based activity that very night in order to give me some material. I never hear back from her. I learn later, though, that her husband had been heard eulogising the use of chocolate eggshells as temporary and edible bra cups, so perhaps they went a little off-piste.
I even quiz my friend the burlesque dancer – don’t ask, it’s a long story and the missus forgave me ages ago – but she claims, rather haughtily, not to have come across erotic jellies. Not her cup of tea at all, apparently. She directs me instead to Torture Garden and She Said Erotic Boutique, mentioning as an aside that if I’m interested she has recently come across some erotic gaffer tape which apparently doesn’t mark one’s skin and tastes really rather nice. She’s always been an enterprising girl.
Finally, my chum the cook breaks cover and comes clean on the condition of anonymity. Let’s call her Clare. “In my misspent twenties I did rude food catering for stag parties,” she confesses. “I did things like Chippendale gingermen with bulging posing pouches and learnt that spun sugar makes really excellent pubic hair when curled between the spread legs of gingerwomen. Jellies, though, were the most successful and the chaps couldn’t get enough of the jelly bosoms.” Clare went to the local joke shop and bought several pairs of Barbara Windsor-style rubber boobs to use as moulds.
SERIAL KILLER’S BOUDOIR
“They came out beautifully,” she says. “I’d make the jelly from pink champagne and use fresh raspberries as the nipples. I’d serve them slathered in spray cream and surrounded by fresh peaches and the boys absolutely loved them. They looked wonderful and wibbled and wobbled in just the right way as they were brought to the table. They always got a great roar of approval, especially since I made the waitresses wear the boob moulds as they were serving them.”
So chuffed with her tasty tits was Clare that she tried to take things a step further, imagining a hand caressing each carefully crafted mammary. She bought several pairs of Marigold gloves, she tells me, and filled them with a stiff-set jelly, arranging them in such a way as the finger and thumb appeared to be tweaking a nipple. “Once set, I cut open the gloves with scissors but disaster struck and the jelly just went everywhere . The kitchen ended up looking like a serial killer’s boudoir. Plain and simple is best.”
Our chat prompts me to do a bit of research and I’d be failing in my duty if I didn’t direct those interested in such things to www.smuttygifts.com, where willy jelly moulds and boob jelly moulds are yours for just £5.
But jelly doesn’t have to be saucily shaped to be seductive. Make it any shape you want and simply pour in lashings of booze. Tonight I’m using the Brighton Pavilion minarets, in fact rather suggestive, that Sam Bompas gave me. My ever-loving’s favourite cocktail is a Negroni and I mix up a stiff one, so to speak, and bung it in the fridge. So delicious is the result that we scoff the jelly direct from the moulds, standing giggling at the fridge door. Not madly erotic, but great fun.
Sam Bompas’s Top Tips
Make your liquid and soften the gelatine in a small amount of it. Then dissolve the gelatine in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water. Once dissolved, strain and pour into the rest of the liquid and stir. Set in the fridge.
The best moulds are made of copper; make sure the bottom is wider than the top so you can get the jelly out.
Don’t use ready-made packs of jelly.
Use fine-leaf gelatine, with one leaf for every 100ml of liquid.
Alcohol makes jelly set firmer unless it’s more than 30% volume at which point it disrupts the gelatine’s protein.
If you want fruit to sit in the centre of your creation, double-set the jelly.
Never use pineapple. It contains an enzyme that attacks the gelatine.
Cocktails make ideal jellies. Simply add gelatine.
Jelly lasts for a week or so in the fridge.
For more information call Bompas & Parr on 020 7403 9403 or visit