Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Improbable Praises
Improbable Praises

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I would be sharing a recipe here like this one. In fact, it is surprising that I not only made this dish but actually brought it to a party, where it was so well received that I decided I must share it here, despite the quiet snickers it may evoke.

In my circle of friends, family, and acquaintances I’m known as “the one who cooks”. I usually do the bulk of the cooking for big holiday meals, my regular dinner parties are quite popular, and when invited to pot luck gatherings I bring interesting dishes that always elicit requests for the recipes. Because I love to experiment in the kitchen I rarely serve anything that would be considered ordinary. So now I have this reputation as some sort of kitchen goddess.

When I came across a photograph of this wow-looking but decidedly ungourmet dessert, I passed it by because it is considered quite plebian. But its appealing image stuck in my mind. Then I was invited to a party where I knew only two people and I decided to make and bring this. Heck, these people didn’t know me so I had no epicurean standard to uphold. My culinary reputation would not be at stake.

When I placed this on the table, I was shocked by the attention and responses it drew. “Ooh”, “aah”, “wow”, “cool”, and “how did you make that?” filled the room as people were drawn to it like Paris tourists flocking to the Eiffel Tower. It became the topic of conversation for the next 10 minutes, and then again and again throughout the evening as new people arrived at the party and discovered it.

Throughout my many years of cooking and entertaining I have made all sorts of beautiful, delicious and fancy foods and have received compliments for many of them, but I’ve never received the incredible improbable response this simple, plebian, anti-gourmet dessert garnered.

Okay, I’ve dragged this on long enough. I guess I feel the need to justify that I am about to share a recipe for……

Rainbow Jello Mold!

Jello! Yeah, I know! Visions of grade school cafeteria serving lines come to mind, with row upon row of small dishes, each containing a perfectly square green jiggling cube, the extraterrestrial lime color reflecting in the stainless steel. And then there is the hospital dinner tray with its ubiquitous serving of the garish red jelly supporting sad little bits of canned fruit.

But this jello creation is something entirely different! Look!

With its psychedelic rainbow of neon colors, and gentle jiggliness, it appeals to something deep inside all of us. I don’t know why but it is almost impossible to turn your eyes away from it. It possesses some kind of captivating allure. At the party people kept returning to the buffet table just to look at it. Even now I find myself looking at these photographs over and over again, and feel an odd kind of joyful elation every time.

As to the taste of this compelling dessert, well, it tastes like…. Jello.

Rainbow Ribbon Gelatin Mold

Inspired by and adapted from a recipe posted by Rachel Perlow on eGullet forums
Servings: 20

From start to finish this takes about 3 hours to complete, but actual hands-on effort is minimal. You need to allow each layer to set a bit before adding the next layer, thus two minutes of your attention will be needed every 15 minutes or so. Plan on making this while you have something else to do in or around the kitchen.

The mold needs to set up overnight so make this the day before serving.

Rainbow Ribbon Gelatin Mold

8-3/4 cups Boiling Water
7 packages of any brand gelatin in the following colors :
- 1 purple (grape)
- 1 blue (very berry)
- 1 green (lime)
- 1 yellow (lemon or pineapple)
- 1 orange (orange)
- 2 red (raspberry, strawberry, or cherry)
1 cup vanilla yogurt (avoid non-fat)
whipped cream for serving

Line up your boxes of gelatin in rainbow order: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red (reverse ROY G BIV, but without the indigo). Place 5 large plastic cups in front of the first five and one quart sized bowl in front of the red flavor. Put each flavor of gelatin in its own cup or bowl.

Stir 1 ¼ cups boiling water into each flavor (2 ½ cups for the red flavor) and stir each very well until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir again just to make sure.

Lightly spray a 10 cup bundt pan with cooking spray and wipe out excess with a paper towel.

Beginning with the purple flavor, pour 3/4 cup of the dissolved gelatin into the bundt pan and place in the refrigerator to chill. If your refrigerator shelves slant at all, the layers won’t be even, so use a small level across the top and folded paper towel shims to insure a level set.

Refrigerate about 15-20 minutes or until set but not firm (gelatin should feel tacky and stick to finger when touched). Meanwhile, spoon 2 ½ tablespoons of the yogurt into a small bowl and stir or whisk until perfectly smooth. Slowly stir in the 1/2 cup of dissolved purple gelatin remaining in the cup, whisking to remove any lumps. Refrigerate this yogurt gelatin until slightly thickened to the consistency of unbeaten egg whites. Leave the rest of the flavors at room temperature.

Very very gently, spoon the creamy gelatin evenly over the partially set layer in the pan. Refrigerate about 10-15 minutes or until gelatin is set but not firm (gelatin should stick to finger when touched).

Repeat this process with each remaining gelatin flavor, in rainbow sequence, to create 12 alternating clear and creamy gelatin layers. The chilling time will be less for each successive layer because the layers get thinner towards the top of the bundt pan and the gelatin gets cooler as it sits. It is critically important that you don’t allow a layer to get too firm, otherwise the next layer will not adhere to it. Check more frequently for each successive layer.

The last layer, red, is a double layer. Use 1 ½ cups of the gelatin mixture for the clear layer and 1 cup of the gelatin mixture with 5 tablespoons of yogurt for the creamy layer.

If the gelatin waiting to be used sets at room temperature, fill a bowl the cup will fit into with hot water, set it inside and stir to loosen it up again.

Refrigerate the mold overnight until firm.

Unmold just before serving. Use a large flat serving platter that is at least 2 inches larger in diameter than the mold (the gelatin will spread a bit when unmolded). Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the serving plate to facilitate adjusting the dessert after unmolding.

Fill a large bowl or clean sink with warm (not hot) water. Dip the mold almost to the edge into the warm water for just a few seconds. Wipe off with a towel and check the edges to see if they are loose; if not, repeat the dip for just a few seconds. Invert serving plate on top and flip quickly. Remove bundt pan.

Serve with whipped cream on the side.

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Blogger Caty said...
Wow! That looks amazing!

Blogger delightful said...
Thanks! I was looking for a holiday dessert for my office's holiday bake-off - I know I won't win on skill, but I'll have everyone beat for kitsch!