Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Patriotic Jello

Okay, this isn't presidential, per se, but it's close enough: Patriotic Jello! And just in time for the Fourth of July.

This looks complicated, but it's actually really simple. It takes a few hours to set up, obviously, but the hands-on time is only about 15 minutes.

I first stumbled upon the concept of "stained glass Jello" in a Food Network Magazine a few months back. I was dying to make it, but my Aunt Cathy always makes the Jello for family gatherings, and she was hosting the next major event: Easter. Imagine my surprise when I asked what I could bring to dinner and she suggested Jello. Score!

Easter Jello
I used the recipe and technique from this website to make a multi-colored concoction, which was really fun and tasty. Everyone was so impressed that we spent a large portion of Easter dinner discussing other ways this Jello could be utilized, and that's where I hatched the idea for July 4th Jello.

This recipe only uses two colors of Jello vs. four, which means you can use two larger 6-oz boxes instead of the smaller 3-oz boxes.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 6-oz box red Jello (I used strawberry)
  • 1 6-oz box blue Jello (I used berry--I'm not sure if there are other options)
  • 2 packets of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk!)
  • Containers for chilling the colored Jello
  • A bundt pan
  • Star-shaped cutters
  • Cooking spray

You'll need to do this in a couple steps, but like I said, it's really easy. (I've put the main steps in bold so you can scan through more easily.)

Start by mixing the red jello with 2 cups boiling water, then repeat with the blue jello in a separate bowl.

Pour each color into containers to chill. You don't want the Jello to be too deep because you'll be cutting these into thin stars later. I divided each color into two Rubbermaid storage containers that I had very lightly sprayed with oil to help them unmold later.

Let those chill until set, a few hours or overnight.

Before you unmold those, mix together your white jello:

  • Pour 1/2 c COLD water into a bowl and sprinkle the two packets of unflavored gelatin on top. 
  • Let that bloom for a few minutes, then add 1.5 cups of boiling water and mix it together. 
  • Mix in the can of sweetened condensed milk.
  • Let this cool for a while at room temperature.

While that's cooling, unmold the blue and red Jello onto a cutting board (dipping the containers into hot water for a few seconds can help loosen the Jello if necessary).

Then the fun part: Cutting the stars!

I had gone to the craft store to buy a star-shaped cookie cutter, but the only solo one they had was really big. I found a set of four star-shaped cookie cutters, but only the smallest one would have worked. Better than nothing, though. Then I stumbled upon a set of six star-shaped fondant cutters. Perfect! I wound up using the third-smallest ones for the main stars, and also the smallest ones for some of the "scraps." Any scraps that were too small for stars got chopped up to be "fireworks."

Next it's time to arrange the stars in the (lightly oiled) bundt pan. You'll want these to stand up so each slice of Jello will have a star in it. At first I tried standing them up individually but they kept falling over. Eventually it occurred to me (der!) to stack a few together and then set them in. That worked much better! I alternated blue and red stars.

Once the bottom was filled, I still had a few big stars left over so I arranged them flat against the edges so that (hopefully) they would show through on the sides. I arranged some of my smaller stars so (also hopefully) they would show up, too.

Then I just threw in the other scraps.

When I was done with that, my white mixture was still pretty warm, and the last thing I wanted to do was melt my lovely stars, so I went and watched an episode of the Simpsons. By the time that was over, the white gelatin was cool enough to pour.

Pour the white gelatin in slowly and gently so you don't disturb anything too much. If you have any jagged bits of colored Jello sticking out, you can push them down so they won't poke out the bottom later on, although I'm not sure how necessary this really is.

Then it's back in the fridge for at least a few hours, or overnight.

When it's time to unmold, again, dipping the pan in hot water for a few seconds can help. Put your plate/serving disk/whatever on top of the pan and then flip it over and wiggle it around until the Jello releases. (A tip I read about: sprinkle some water on your platter first so that in case the Jello isn't centered, you can more easily slide it into place. Jello is surprisingly immobile otherwise.)

See the stars???
Finally, slice into it! I was really happy with the stars on the outside and on the inside. A few of the smaller stars showed up, too, which was cool.

My kids loved this. My 8-year-old wouldn't stop squealing, "It's so cute, I can't eat it!" although eventually she did break down and eat it. Then she and my 5-year-old used their fingers to dig out the stars, so that was great.

This Jello actually tasted a lot better than the Easter one, also. The Easter one was good but because of all the different flavors (grape, lime, strawberry, and orange) it tasted a bit like a bowl of Froot-Loops. The strawberry and berry of the Fourth of July Jello go together much better. It was really tasty!

Now, go forth (Fourth?) and make some Jello for your next barbecue. Our Founding Fathers would be proud.

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