Kimbesa is an experienced home cook and lover of all things vintage.
Simple or Fancy Desserts in Red, White, and Blue
Jell-O is an easy favorite to make for dessert, no matter what the occasion. When your party theme is patriotic, show your colors and enjoy eating with your eyes first, taste buds following soon.
1. Cube Jell-O Served in Goblets
For a satisfying and easy way to serve this dessert, make the Jell-O in a shallow square or rectangular dish, cut it into cubes, and use your favorite clear glass goblets to show it off.
- 1 (6-oz) box Jell-O, cherry, raspberry, or strawberry
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 container whipped topping
- Fruit for decoration, as desired
- Pour Jell-O into a large, heat-resistant bowl. Add the boiling water and stir until the powder is dissolved.
- Add the cold water. Stir again until well mixed.
- Pour into a 13 x 9 glass pan and refrigerate until the Jell-O is set, about 2 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, cut the Jell-O into cubes about 1-inch square, and use a spatula to gently loosen them. Spoon into goblets or another serving dish, top with whipped topping and fruit, as desired.
- If you wish, mix fresh blueberries in with the red Jell-O cubes as you assemble your desserts.
2. Ribbon Layered Jell-O
Make your dessert a few days ahead and have it ready to serve when family and friends gather for the party. You can cut into squares yourself, or let your guests serve themselves.
- 1 (6-oz) box cherry Jell-O
- 1 (6-oz) box berry blue Jell-O
- 4 cups boiling water (2 per box, made several hours apart)
- 2 cups cold water (1 per box, made several hours apart)
- 1 (3-oz) box lemon Jell-O
- 1 cup boiling water for the middle layer
- 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 (8-oz) package whipped topping
- Start the bottom layer with the blue Jell-O. Use 2 cups boiling water to dissolve the powder, then add the 1 cup of cold water. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour the mixture into the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish. Refrigerate until almost set, about 45 minutes. Jell-O will be sticky to the touch but not completely solid.
- For the middle layer, mix the Lemon Jell-O powder with 1 cup of boiling water. In a separate, heat-resistant bowl, beat the softened cream cheese. Add the Jell-O and beat until smooth. Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Spread onto the first Jell-O layer and return to the refrigerator to set.
- Make the top Jell-O layer by adding using 2 cups boiling water to the powder. Stir until dissolved. Then Add 1 cup cold water. Mix well and cool to room temperature. This mixture should be cool and syrupy before pouring onto the second layer. Use a ladle or large spoon to start the process, to gently spread the Jell-O onto the dessert.
- Return to the refrigerator until completely set.
- When ready to serve, cut into squares and serve on small dessert plates.
Tips for Making Ribbon Layered Jell-O
- Take your time spreading the middle layer onto the one below it and smoothing its top in preparation for the final layer. An offset spatula or frosting spreader works well. This will give you the most even layers in your dessert.
- Place about ¾ of a cup of the middle layer in another dish, to allow more room for the top layer unless your glass dish is extra deep.
- Keep the dessert in the refrigerator as you add the last layer onto the top, so that you will not have to move a very full dish and risk spilling.
3. Star-Shaped Jell-O Using a Vintage Mold
Copper-colored aluminum molds are easy to find in secondhand shops to make a Jell-O dessert like this. They are a fun way to create a memorable dessert.
To find out how much Jell-O you will need to fill the mold you have in mind, refer to the section below about how to measure the volume of a mold. I also recommend reviewing the instructions so that you will be prepared to make this wonderful Jell-O display!
- Packages of Jell-O as needed for the mold you have. The star I made took one 6-oz and one 3-oz boxes of Cherry Jell-O.
- Water as specified in the package instructions LESS ¼ cup per 3 oz of Jell-O powder. (Take this from the cold water component of the dessert.)
- Whipped topping
- Fruit as desired for decoration
- Mix the Jell-O powder with the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add the cold water, amount adjusted to make a firmer Jell-O.
- Pour into the mold and place in the refrigerator until set. You may want to add the last cup or so of the mixture after placing the mold into the fridge, to prevent spills.
- Use kitchen towels or paper towels to level the mold as needed.
- The Jell-O will take several hours, or overnight, to set fully.
- Follow the instructions in "How to Unmold," below, to take your Jell-O out of the mold and prepare it for serving.
- Use whipped topping and fruit on top to decorate as desired.
4. Fancy Jell-O Tower in Two Flavors
I used two flavors of Jell-O to make this molded dessert, but you could use three. I calculated how much volume of liquid the mold would hold, and then how much Jell-O to make to fill it.
Allow a few days ahead of your event to make it. This dessert holds up well, in the mold, in the refrigerator, ready to unmold close to the time you want to serve it.
- Boxes of Jell-O in the flavors and amounts needed to fill your mold. I used two 6-oz boxes, one each of Cherry and Berry Blue.
- Boiling water and cold water, as indicated on the packages LESS 1/4 cup per 3 oz of Jell-O powder, to make a firmer product.
- Whipped topping and fresh fruit as desired for decoration.
- Start with the layer of Jell-O you wish to have in the top section of the mold. I used Cherry for the top.
- Make the Jell-O with boiling water as indicated on the package. Stir to dissolve. SUBTRACT ¼ cup of water per 3 oz of Jell-O powder from the specified cold water.
- If you have leftover Jell-O mixture, beyond what you need for your mold, place it in a separate bowl or goblets for an additional dessert.
- Pour the mixture into the mold, and place in the refrigerator. You want this to be tacky on its surface but not fully set, to help the next layer stick to it. Check after about 45 minutes.
- Allow about 30 minutes, then make the bottom layer, the same way as the top layer. If the first layer is not quite ready to receive the second one, let this Jell-O mixture set at room temperature until the top layer is ready.
- Add the second layer to the first by pouring gently from a ladle onto the surface of the top layer. This will prevent denting and make a defined line between the colors. Once you have part of the mold filled in this way, use a pour spout measuring cup to continue the process.
- Refrigerate until fully set, several hours or preferable overnight.
- Follow the instructions in How to Unmold below for the final steps to creating your beautiful and tasty dessert!
How to Find Vintage Molds
Secondhand markets, either online or brick and mortar, are the places to find molds like the ones shown here. They were very popular in their day and there are a lot of them out there. I expect to pay a few dollars. I pass on any that are dented or if the finish is scraped, because there are molds in excellent condition to be found.
How to Measure the Volume of the Mold
Use water and a measuring cup to find the volume of a particular shape. Then it is easy to calculate how many boxes of Jell-O of a size to use to fill it. A 6-oz box of Jell-O calls for 4 cups of water, and a 3-oz box calls for 2 cups of water.
Remember that for molded Jell-O you will reduce the water slightly to make a firmer dessert. Use 1/4 cup less water for every 3 oz. of Jell-O powder.
This is to help the unmolding process, improve the definition of the shape, and to help the finished dessert retain its shape on a serving platter.
Your Jell-O mold does not have to be full to the rim, but it should be full to within half or three-quarters of an inch of the top.
How to Unmold Your Jell-O
- I recommend a practice run or two before you serve a molded dessert for a special event. You will want to get the mixture right (water to Jell-O powder quantities) and gain skill in unmolding.
- Prepare a plate or serving platter that is big enough for your dessert. Get it slightly wet with cool water. This will allow the Jell-O to slide into position once you have unmolded it.
- Wet your fingers and gently tease the Jell-O away from the sides of the mold. You can use a knife to help with this process if desired. You want to break the seal between the metal and the dessert, to ease the process of it sliding free from the mold.
- When you are ready to unmold your dessert, fill a container with warm (not hot) water. Make it deep enough so that the mold can go in with room to spare underneath it.
- I used a shallow basin for dipping the mold for the star shape, and a deep one for the tower shape.
- Place the mold into the water, holding it so that no water spills onto the dessert, but deep enough so that warm water comes up to the rim.
- Hold the mold in this position for about 20-30 seconds. Then place the plate or platter on top, and quickly flip this assembly so that the mold is right side up. The length of time in the water varies depending on how big the dessert is and how deep or shallow its shape is. You will want to err on the side of too little time in the water. If it stays too long, it will soften the Jell-O too much and your dessert will collapse.
- If the Jell-O does not drop down on its own after you have flipped it, place back in the water for a few seconds and try again.
And there you have it! Jell-O makes an easy and sweet dessert to make ahead for your next party, picnic or holiday gathering!