A quick dessert, an unexpected ingredient, or a sneaky way to include veggies in any meal … available in a rainbow of flavors and colors … tah dah – it’s gelatin!
Since 1682, this versatile ingredient has been used as a simple source of protein ideal for soldiers on the move. But within 200 years, patent-holders and cooks pushed that proverbial envelope and began mixing the granulated gelatin with fruit juices and syrups to make tasty jellies.
I am delighted to write about gelatin because I have two vintage cookbooks that elevate this wiggly-jiggly desert of my childhood to unexpected – and sometimes bizarre – culinary heights.
From the 1928 cookbook comes a sponge made with pineapple juice and rice. Other delicacies include a shrimp and orange salad, or the refreshing cucumber and Cayenne pepper salad.
Included near the end of the same cookbook are certain Rules that hold true even today; Metal molds chill more quickly than those made from other materials; placing the filled mold in a bowl brimming with crushed ice and salt speeds the jelling process considerably, and a rotary beater is necessary when whipping the dissolved gelatin.
Although undated, the ‘newer’ cookbook appears to be an early 1970s collection of recipes. Returning to gelatin’s roots as a basic protein, some of the recipes combine lemon, orange or cherry gelatin with ham, duck, bleu cheese, chicken or crab meat.
At first those might sound like unnatural pairings, but the flavors of ham and pineapple or turkey and maple are really quite good- even without the neon coloring.
So, here are some handy ideas for easy gelatin desserts that have been inspired by 1928 cooks and 1970s kitchens. Have fun!
1 ( 3.4 package) Jello gelatin
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup heavy cream
Stir the instant gelatin in the boiling water until completely dissolved. Cool in fridge until syrupy. Add the heavy cream, and whip until soft peaks form. Serve immediately or chill in fridge. As mixture chills, it will become more firm.
It tastes much better than it looks – really it does!
Mix equal parts Whipped Blue with Creamy Delight, while still soft.
Chill and serve … perhaps with gummy fish?
1 tablespoon brightly colored gelatin powder
1 1/3 cups coconut
1 clean jar
Combine powder and coconut in jar, shake vigorously until coconut is uniformly colored.
1 pkg cake mix, flavors such as yellow or white are best
1 small pkg instant gelatin, any flavor
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 350*
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Mix until smooth, but do not overbeat.
Pour into prepared tube pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center come out clean. Dust with powdered sugar, colored sugar or coconut.
When the sun scorches and the breeze is nothing more than moving dust, the following recipe can be relied upon to bring some much needed blizzard-cold refreshment.
(It is also a perfect ending to a rich meal, or a light lunch.)
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
3/4 cup lemon juice
Bring water to a rolling boil.
Add sugar, stirring until completely dissolved. Remove from heat, allow to cool.
When cool, add lemon rind and juice.
Freeze in metal tray or bowl – or cake pan.
To serve, use fork to shave ice, scoop into cold individual serving dishes – serve immediately.