'Tis the season to be fancypants. Our Top Pick in Cookbooks for December, Sweet by Valerie Gordon, is the ideal guide to the most gorgeous and delicious sweet treats of the season. Writes Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt, "Sophisticated, grown-up winners, all; you can’t go wrong."

Champagne Gelée

Serves 6

Gelée sounds so much more sophisticated and elegant than the word “gelatin.” We all grew up with the packaged variety in those electric colors with flavors like orange and lime. Dispel that notion of gelatin; this version is far more delicious and impressive. Use your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine.

220_Champagne Gele?e

  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon powdered gelatin

  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (7.5 ounces) cold water

  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) Champagne, chilled

1.   Sprinkle the gelatin over the 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl, and let sit for 10 minutes, until the gelatin softens.

2.  Combine the remaining 3/4 cup water and the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

3.   Add the gelatin to the sugar syrup, stirring until it has dissolved. Pour into a large pitcher. Pour the Champagne into the pitcher and stir with a long spoon.

4.   Pour the gelée into glasses or small glass bowls and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, until set.


The gelée can be refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.


Adding strawberries, sliced if large, and raspberries, is a delicious way to vary this recipe.  Add the berries to the glasses before refrigerating the gelée.  If you add berries, it is best to serve the gelées the day they are made, as the berries can darken and break down, and the effect will not be as pretty.

Excerpted from Sweet by Valerie Gordon (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Peden + Munk. Read our review of this book.

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