Friday, September 7, 2012

Retro Recipes - a Lovely Fruity Frozen Jello Mold

I have been digging through my stacks of community cookbooks recently, weeding out the ones I want to keep and those I want to declutter. During this process, I have been testing out some old recipes I marked that I wanted to try out and save before I unload another stack of books. One recipe that caught my eye was a retro jello mold from a book called "Taste of Heaven" put out by a women's charity church group in North Carolina.

When I was a kid, my mom used to take my sisters and I to a lot of church potlucks. One thing I vividly recall eating at those potlucks was jello salad in various forms. I always loved the fruity jello molds, but I tried my best to avoid the ones with vegetables suspended in the mix. I never really understood why someone felt the need to ruin my delicious jello with something like shredded cabbage or beets. I was fine with carrots or maybe even cucumbers, but really... cabbage??

I always loved the creamy, fruity jello salads best, the ones with suspended chunks of pineapple and bright red maraschino cherries or bananas. So when I came across a recipe for a creamy frozen fruit salad that called for mayonnaise, I was both drawn to it and also a bit scared to try it. I wondered how many of those jello salads I had eaten as a kid had secretly hidden mayonnaise and shuddered at the thought. Seriously, why, why , WHY would anyone think of putting mayo into a fruit salad?

Yet here I was, strongly considering making a recipe for a fruit studded frozen concoction that called for mayonnaise mixed into whipped cream. I hadn't detected anything afoul in such recipes as a kid, so perhaps I wouldn't notice as an adult. I considered skipping the mayo entirely and just adding extra whipped cream. Eventually, I gave in to my usual mantra of trying to stick to a recipe as directed the first time I try it, and went with the mayo. I mixed up my salad, stuck it in the freezer, and found myself worrying about it all night long.

I braced myself before the first bite...was I about to chomp down into a creamy, fruit deliciousness or had I somehow made mayo flavored ice cream? I bravely took a bite, and then another. I could detect a slight tang from the mayo, but it was not overwhelming. I took a few more bites. It was pretty good, actually quite good. Light and refreshing and so very pretty.

I used a jello mold I had picked up for a dollar at an estate sale. I am still not entirely sold on the mayo idea, but the salad was a real hit. I do think that for today's taste buds, I would from now on replace the mayo with sour cream or Greek yogurt, but the recipe as written did turn out quite well.

Alisa's Frozen Fruit Salad Mold, adapted from a recipe found in "Taste of Heaven" community cookbook

serves about 8-10

1 (15 ounce) can fruit cocktail, drained, reserving juices
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained, reserving juices
water, as needed
1 (4 serving size) small box lemon gelatin
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla) or sour cream or mayonnaise
1 cup whipped cream, measured after whipping, plus extra for garnishing, if desired
3 to 4 drops red food coloring, or as needed to tint the salad light pink

You will need a medium-large sized gelatin mold or seal-able, freeze-able bowl. Spray lightly with unflavored nonstick spray.

Set a mesh strainer over a glass measuring cup and let the fruit drain, saving all of the juices from the cans. Chill the fruit in a covered container for now. Add enough water to the fruit juice to measure about 1 1/3 cups liquid. Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and dissolve the lemon gelatin in the liquid. Whisk in a tiny pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Cover and chill until partially set, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once the gelatin has partially set, add the fruit and marshmallows and stir to combine. Fold in the yogurt, sour cream, or mayo if you dare (whichever you prefer), followed by the whipped cream and a few drops of red food coloring to tint the mixture a light pink color.

Pour into the prepared gelatin mold, cover, then freeze overnight or until firm. Loosen edges carefully, using a butter knife, before unmolding. I set my sealed container into a bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes to help loosen it, then placed a plate on top of the open container and flipped it over - it came out very easily.

Serve immediately, freezing any leftovers. Serve extra whipped cream on the side, if desired.

*NOTE: I found it easier to eat after I let the mold defrost a short time before unmolding; not long enough to have it start melting, just long enough to slice a bit easier).


  1. My mother used to make one with a cranberry fruit mold...not sure the whippy one would be my thing either...thanks for reintroducing retro recipes...LOVE to see!

  2. A cranberry version sounds pretty good too :)