It’s always puzzled me how to make Chinese New Year survivable for my low carb family. Like most Chinese families, the lunar new year is a time for lots of visiting and these home visits are all centered around food. Right after Boxing Day last year I was gobsmacked when I discovered the Christmas decorations had been systematically cleared away and the Chinese New Year snacks were out in force in the supermarket. It may be a Singapore thing, however, because when I was in Taiwan in mid January I discovered that they hadn’t cleared their Christmas decorations and didn’t seem to have any intent to do so any time soon!
Regardless, Singapore, being the street food Mecca of the world, is usually awash with red-topped plastic bottles of crackers, cookies and nuts at this season. Navigating the carb laden goodies is difficult and there are very few options if you keep to a very low carb diet. This year I seriously considered doing pineapple tarts – I have a mean pineapple tart recipe…but decided the carbs were simply not worth it. So I ended up roasting my own nuts and making a low carb version of Bak Kwa (barbecued sweet meat). While I was traveling around one of my favourite baking shops, I discovered a packet of dried osmanthus flowers. This was a happy find. Osmanthus flowers have a really subtle floral apricot-peach flavour when steeped, and Osmanthus jelly is one of the coveted desserts that Chinese restaurants charge an arm and a leg for. According to Wiki, traditional Chinese medicine claims that Osmanthus flowers give a more radiant complexion and decrease the risk for cancer, diabetes and renal disease. But then, TCM has a host of wild claims that I’ve never really bought into and I’ve always been more interested in the flavour profiles of the food rather than the purported health benefits.
This jelly dessert is crazily easy to make. The duration of steeping determines how strong the tea flavours are…I did a very slow boil from cold and that allowed sufficient time for the full flavour to bloom. It ended up looking pretty and made great gifts for friends.
From top left and anti clockwise: wolfberry and Osmanthus jelly cooking on the stove; drain the solids from the jelly mix; pour the jelly mix into plastic decorative moulds.
Low Carb Osmanthus Jelly
- 1 packet of konnyaku jelly powder
- 1 cup sugar substitute
- 2 tbsp Osmanthus flowers
- 2 tbsp wolfberries (also known as goji berries)
- 1 L water
- Mix the sugar substitute and konnyaku jelly powder together. Add the water, konnyaku jelly and sugar substitute mix together in a sauce pan and add the Osmanthus flowers.
- Bring to a gentle boil over a low to medium flame and stir well. This will take about 6-8 minutes.
- Add the wolfberries and stir for about 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.
- Drain the jelly mixture through a sieve.
- Put 3 wolfberries and a tiny amount of Osmanthus flowers into the base of each jelly mould.
- Carefully ladle the strained jelly mixture into the moulds. Refrigerate till set and serve when ready.