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Grapefruit & Campari Gelée

Grapefruit & Campari Gelée

Executive Pastry Chef, Jason Licker, presented this recipe at an event last December sponsored by Pastryscoop.com and Texas Sweet Citrus. With the bitterness of grapefruit and the alcoholic kick of Campari, this dessert breaks all the winter rules. It uses Texas Rio Star grapefruit, which is a deep red color and much sweeter than your average variety. The surprising piece is that Texas Rio Star grapefruits are available October through May, making it easy to find the key ingredient during the dead of winter. Yes, the folks at Texas Sweet Grapefruit did sponsor the event, but after making the recipe myself, I can support Chef Licker’s testament that the color and flavor of the Texas Rio Star grapefruits make a difference. If you’re not a fan of grapefruit, the juice called for in the recipe can be replaced by the same amount of any other fruit juice. You can also play with the ratio of the Campari to fruit juice as long as you keep the total liquid the same. I reduced the amount of Campari called for and added extra grapefruit juice and sugar for a more fruity, sweet gelée.

Texas Rio Star Grapefruit and Campari Gelée
Adapted from a recipe by Executive Pastry Chef Jason Licker


7 gelatin sheets (or 7 tablespoons powdered gelatin at your own risk**)
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar (up to 1 cup for extra sweetness)
16 oz. freshly squeezed Texas Rio Star grapefruit juice (from about 3 medium grapefruits)
½ cup Compari liqueur


2 Texas Rio Star grapefruits peeled and segmented
½ cup heavy cream for whipping


1. Arrange grapefruit segments (if desired) in five martini glasses, reserving a few for garnishes. Set aside.

2. Prepare the gelatin. Soak gelatin sheets in cold water until softened then squeeze out excess water. For the powdered gelatin, add just enough cold water to the powdered gelatin so that the liquid is completely absorbed. (I strongly recommend using the gelatin sheets when possible). Set aside until needed.

3. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar and water. Stir until the mixture is clear. Heat to boiling and boil for one minute.

4. Add grapefruit juice and Campari and return to a boil.

5. Remove saucepan from heat. Add the softened gelatin and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.

6. Pour the warm liquid into the martini glasses and chill until the gelatin is set.

7. For added flair top the chilled gelée with whipped cream. Reserved grapefruit slices can be tossed into a little aged balsamic vinegar and used to garnish each martini glass.

Now for the honest truth…

  • I made this recipe twice before I was successful. The first time I used Knox powdered gelatin and it was a disaster. The powdered gelatin had a terrible smell once I dissolved it in water and the foul taste tainted the entire recipe. I tried again with gelatin sheets purchased at a baking store and the recipe came out perfect. It may have been a bad box of Knox gelatin, but I strongly recommend using the gelatin sheets for simplicity and better taste.
  • I made half the recipe as specified, except I used 3 sheets of gelatin (instead of 3.5, half of the 7 specified) and the consistency was perfect.
  • I prefer not to add the grapefruit segments into the glasses before pouring in the liquid so the gelée is smooth throughout.
  • I bought the martini glass at Target for $1!.


Jenny says on October 29th, 2005 at 11:17 pm:


Actually, 4 sheets of gelatin equals one packet of powdered gelatin, which is 1/4 oz. or 2 1/4 teaspoons. So you should substitute a scant 2 packs or about 4 1/4 tsp. of the powdered. Dissolve in 2-3 oz. of water. Hope this helps.

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An interest, that turned into a blog, that turned into a career. Kelli Bernard is now the owner and baker of Amai Tea & Bake House.

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