Saturday, 20 July 2013

Dessert Jello - Delicious!

The finished product - Dessert Jello

I love Jello.

It was one of the only hospital foods I liked during my many stays at Sick Children's hospital 40+ years ago.  I loved the orange, green, yellow and red squares that would arrive with my lunch and dinner every  day.  I marvelled at the way they held their shape and loved the way each square was topped with a dollop of whipped cream.  

Those were hard times for my parents, and for me.  I can remember a great deal from those early years...the overwhelming sense of panic when my parents had to leave me at the end of each day, and the sense of doom as the orderlies wheeled me into the operating room.  There were nurses standing all around me, and then the heavy, black plastic mask was placed over my face to  administer anaesthesia.  I remember waking up in post-op, surrounded by huge stuffed animals, and being stuck under an oxygen tent with my arm permanently suspended from an IV stand so the skin grafts could heal.  Mixed in with these memories are happy ones...feeling like I could burst with excitement and joy as my wonderful Daddy carried me through the hospital corridors, walls covered in Halloween Decorations.  I was in awe of him and how he managed to "spring me" for a night so I could go trick or treating.  And I remember the jello with whipped cream on top.  The amazing thing is that I was 4 years old when I had my last surgery, and some of these memories date back to when I was just 2.  

But back to jello.  For me it's always been a comfort food that heals and soothes.

When my cousin Connie recently mentioned that the jello mold Bubbie Lou used to make was one of her favourites, I was intrigued.  I don't remember it...but think I should.  I do have a very vague memory of a jello and whipped cream mold being served, and thinking it was yummy...and so I finally got around to making it, excited at the prospect of rediscovering another lost treasure from my youth.

Bubbie Lou's Original Recipe Card

I pulled the recipe and started to make jello.  It calls for 3 different jello flavours - each to be prepared and layered on top of the last, allowing sufficient time between layers for it to gel.  Given that I am always running about, this "hurry up and wait" stuff was rather annoying.  The first layer of lime jello took a couple of hours to set and simply looked like regular jello.  The second layer was a little more interesting - whipping cream, jello with marshmallows, whipped cream cheese and drained pineapple chunks...hmmm....I layered the second level of jello and then it was back to square one - waiting again!  Finally it set and then it was time for a clear layer of the third flavour.  I used watermelon instead of cherry (it was what I had on hand).  When it was all done, and set - some 6 hours after I started! - I showed the kids, who pointed out that it looked like an Italian flag (albeit the colours were in reverse).

I had been in a cooking/baking mood that day, and also made a pie, which I planned on taking to Mary and Tony's for a day of swimming (remember their wedding story?), when the kids suggested I bring the Dessert Jello too, after all, everyone there (except me they reminded) was Italian!  So I did.  We picked up Mama and Papa Bruni on the way and headed over.  It was a hot day and their pool was a mekheye (Yiddish word pronounced meh-chai-yuh, meaning an extreme pleasure/relief - out of this world wonderful!).  During our afternoon of frolicking in the pool I discovered that Tony loves jello too!

After the BBQ we all sat down for dessert....we brought out my Italian Dessert Jello and I scooped servings for everyone.  It was pretty good - maybe a little too much cream cheese for my liking (there was no measurement so I guessed and used a full 8 oz package), but otherwise it was yummy!

What was the best part for me?  That this timeless recipe lives on, and that some 50 - 60 years after my Bubbie Lou used to make this recipe and serve it to her family at gatherings, the tradition lives on, and her granddaughter is preparing and serving it to her family ©

From my family to yours, I hope you enjoy this Dessert Jello, a perfect treat to beat the heat!

Until next time, I wish you a wonderful day filled with family, fun, friends and fantastic food.  B'Tayavon & Buon Appetito!

Dessert Jello 


  • 1 - 3 oz pkg lime jello
  • 1 - 3 oz pkg lemon jello
  • 15 marshmallows
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple - drained
  • 1 small pkg cream cheese - whipped (I used 8 oz pkg, next time I would half that to 4 oz)
  • 1C whipping cream - whipped

In clear glass bowl (remember the bowl you prepare this in is the one you serve it in), prepare lime jello according to directions.  Allow to set until firm (approx 2 hours).  An hour after making lime jello prepare the lemon jello - only mixing with 1 cup of hot water.  Then add 15 marshmallows.  Allow marshmallows to melt and then cool mixture.  In separate bowl, mix whipped cream cheese and drained pineapple, then fold into whipped cream,  Add this mixture to the lemon jello and marshmallows and pour the whole thing over the lime jello that has been set.  Put into fridge and allow to set firmly (at least 2 more hours).  Prepare cherry jello, mix and allow to cool before pouring over the other 2 set jellos.  Allow to set in fridge for another 2 hours.  Then serve!

** Note: If you want to cut the dessert jello into squares then prepare it in a deep Pyrex dish (haven't tried this yet).  To serve, cut into squares and serve with  a dollop of whipped cream and topped with a cherry.

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