Gelatin molds are molds which are designed to be used with gelatin, aspic, and other jellies to produce a variety of savories and desserts. They range from simple ring molds to fun-loving molds in shapes like brains, hearts, or flowers, with varying levels of detail. In addition to being used to mold jellies, gelatin molds can also stand in as cake pans and molds for timbales and other molded foods. Most kitchen supply stores sell a range of gelatin molds for cooks, ranging from single-serving shapes to large molds designed for parties.
Jellies, aspic, gelatin, and various other gelled foods are made by dissolving gelling agents and mixing them with water, stock, and other ingredients to create a soupy liquid which is poured into a mold, chilled, and allowed to set. Once set, the food is firm, albeit slightly wobbly. Gelatin shaping can be accomplished with any plain liquid, such as water, juice, or soup stock, and it is also possible to insert inclusions into the mixture, such as fruit, pieces of meat, cheese, and so forth.
Because gelled foods are soupy before they have a chance to set, a mold is necessary for gelatin shaping to hold the mixture in place while it firms. Molds are also used to make gelled foods more visually interesting, with the food being classically presented on a platter so that people can clearly discern the shape. Some people also use gelatin molds for educational projects with young children.
Metal, plastic, and silicone can all be used for gelatin molds. The mold is designed to be re-used numerous times, and it is usually heat-resistant, so that heated mixtures can be poured into the mold without concerns about deforming or melting the mold. Some also come with snap-on lids which inhibit the formation of a skin on the gelatin while it sets, keeping the texture smooth and even.
Usually, no lubrication is required in a gelatin mold, since the mixture inside will tend to cling to itself. To unmold foods which have set in a mold, cooks place a upside-down platter on top of the mold and then quickly invert the mold and the platter, allowing the food to slip onto the platter. Sometimes, a sharp tap may be needed to encourage the gelatin to slither out of the mold and onto the platter.
It is critical to make sure that gelled foods have set completely before they are unmolded. Foods which have not totally set will revert to a liquid state when they are inverted onto a plate, destroying the bonds created by the gelling agent. Once the food has been disrupted, it will never set, so premature removal from the mold can ruin a dish entirely.