There’s something about Jell-O — chilled, jiggly gelatin in an array of fruity flavors and colors — that screams summertime. The easy, from-a-box dessert is perfect for hot summer days, transforming from spoonable treat to cool liquid once it hits the tongue. Set the gelatin in some shapely molds, mix in a few surprising ingredients and — voila! You’ve got yourself a perfect warm-weather party dessert with a wow factor.
To kick off my series of posts for Cooking Channel, and to celebrate July 4th, I’ve created a Jell-O mold with an elegant, adult twist (think: Jell-O shot meets dinner party dessert). Strawberries and blueberries are suspended in boozy, effervescent, ginger ale-laced gelatin, and topped with whipped cream for that full red, white and blue effect.
Sparkling, Spiked Summer Berry Jell-O
Makes: 6 cups
3 tablespoons (3 envelopes) of unflavored gelatin powder
3/4 cup cold water
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 1/2 cups ginger ale
1/2 cup rum (or water to make it non-alcoholic)
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blueberries
Whipped topping to garnish (optional)
To make the sparkling berry Jell-O mold:
In a large bowl, sprinkle 3 tablespoons (3 packages) of unflavored gelatin over the cold water and allow the gelatin to absorb the water for 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water until gelatin is fully dissolved.
Stir in the sugar and brown sugar until it is dissolved. Stir in the ginger ale and the rum.
Refrigerate 2 cups of the gelatin mixture until it thickens to the consistency of a gel.
Arrange strawberries in a formation in the bottom of a 6-cup mold and gently spoon the thickened gelatin into the mold over the strawberries. Refrigerate until gelatin is set but not firm. It should stick to your finger when touched so that the next layer will adhere to it but not be so soft that the next layer bleeds into it. Depending on the timing, you may need to leave the gelatin in the mold at room temperature while you prepare the next layer so that it does not become too firm before the next layer is ready.
Meanwhile, refrigerate the remaining gelatin mixture until it has thickened to the consistency of a gel. Fold in blueberries and gently spoon into mold over strawberry layer. Refrigerate until firm, about 8 hours or overnight.
To unmold, fill a sink, basin or large bowl with warm water. Dip the mold just to the rim in the warm water for about 15 seconds. Lift from water, hold upright and shake slightly to loosen the gelatin from mold. Place a cold, moistened plate over the top of the mold and flip the mold and plate upside down. Carefully lift the mold from the plate. If gelatin does not release, dip the mold in the warm water and try again.
Garnish with whipped topping and serve.
Tip: If you don’t have a collection of gelatin molds on hand, try some mold alternatives such as bundt pans, loaf pans, metal mixing bowls or large food storage containers. If you want to dive right in a buy a mold, eBay is the best place to start your search.
Want more Jell-O?
Try some recipes from Victoria’s book, Hello, Jell-O!
Make Chuck’s sunny Honey Tangerine Gelatin
Watch Alie & Georgia prepare a sweet, spiked berry Jell-O salad
Try this Neopolitan Martini Jell-O Shot
Get even more great summer dessert recipes
Victoria Belanger is the author of Hello, Jell-O!: 50+ Inventive Recipes for Gelatin Treats and Jiggly Sweets. She creates craft Jell-O molds in unexpected flavors and artistic presentations for her blog The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn. Her jello has been featured in The New York Times, Oprah.com, The Splendid Table radio show, The Chew talk show, and Apartment Therapy’s: The Kitchn, to name a few. Additionally, Victoria works as a photographer and enjoys exploring the five boroughs of New York City by bicycle.