James Mackie's dessert recipe: The Gin Garden

Head chef at Gordon Castle Walled Garden Café, James Mackie combines gin with garden produce to create this wonderful dessert recipe for the Gin Garden.

Published: August 30, 2017
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The Gin Garden - Lavender and Honey Mousse, Gin Soaked Garden Berries, Chocolate Soil and Edible Flowers

This one may sound a touch difficult but it’s much easier than it looks, and you can have some real fun making (and tasting) it. Plus, it looks fantastic as a dinner party showpiece.

The gin soaked berries

Bring the water and sugar to the boil (add the gin in now if you don’t want it to be too boozy), and set aside to cool.

When it’s at room temperature, pour the liquid over your berries.

I’ve used blueberries, raspberries and garden redcurrants for mine, but any and all will come to life in the gin syrup – be adventurous!

The mousse

Put the lavender heads, gelatin and milk into a pan. Heat gently with a lid on, when it comes to a near boil, remove the pan from the heat and wrap the top with cling film - this will keep the flavour and aroma in.

This process can be used to infuse milk with nearly any flavour, if
you wish to be even more experimental. Leave the pan to rest and

Infuse like this for at least half an hour.

Once rested, strain the contents of the pan in to another and put it back on to a gentle heat.

Meanwhile in a mixing bowl, beat your egg and honey until it turns a brilliant thick fluffy white.

Slowly beat in your hot infused milk, once incorporated put the mix into a thick bottomed pan (this will stop your airy custard from getting a heat shock and splitting).

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Put it on a low gentle heat, and stir with a wooden spoon, once it’s thickened enough to coat the back of your spoon, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Whisk your double cream until it’s just past a soft peak, and is just able to hold its shape.

Gently fold about a quarter of your cream into the custard, when its consistency lightens you begin to fold the custard in to the cream.

This process allows you to keep more air in the mousse - the less folds you make to the cream, the more air you’ll keep in.

Ideally, leave the mixture to set in the fridge overnight or for at least a few hours.

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The soil

Put the sugar and water in a thick bottomed pan and bring to the boil.

Once the water evaporates your caramel can burn quickly so use a sugar temperature probe and once the sugar hits 120c stir in your cocoa and chocolate.

The sudden drop in temperature causes the sugar to crystallise with the chocolate and viola.

Every pastry chef’s favourite plate sprinkle.

Now, here comes the fun part, putting it together. I’ve used little ceramic flower pots but any bowl, mug, jug or glass will work. Spoon the boozy berries in and your mousse on top, and generously cover it in the chocolate soil.

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The pretty part is where I have a real advantage as a lot of edible flowers on my doorstep! In this instance I have used Borridge, Calendula , Nasturtium and Violas.

All can be grown fairly simply at home so don’t dismay if you don’t have any right now.

The Calendula flower has a beautifully subtle sweetness while the Nasturtium has a floral pepperiness that really surprises you.

Violas are slightly tart which complement the sweetness while the Borridge has a cool flavour that lots of people liken to cucumber.

I used mint, lavender and pea tendrils for the ‘plants’.

That is my favourite dish this summer and judging by the number of people sampling it, it’s theirs too!

Gordon Castle
Picture: Gordon Castle

• You can share your dishes with the Gordon Castle team with the #GCGin



  • For the gin soaked berries:
  • 200ml water
  • 100g sugar
  • 50ml GC Gin
  • 400g mixed berries
  • For the mousse:
  • A dozen fresh lavender heads
  • 100g honey
  • 500ml double cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 gelatin Leaves
  • 200ml milk
  • For the soil:
  • 200g sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 50g dark cocoa powder
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