Fun with Jell-O

Interesting desserts to make with America's wiggliest treat

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While it’s probably one of the more entertaining edibles ever created, Jell-O is good for more than just jiggly Jell-O salads and party shooters. In honor of Jell-O week (Feb.12-18), here are three desserts that employ the versatile ingredient.

Key lime pie

Makes 8 servings

Although different from a classic, custardy key lime pie, this version is equally appealing. The sour cream helps to balance out both the sweetness from the condensed milk and tartness from the limes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3 ounce) package lime or lemon-lime Jell-O gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons key lime zest
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Few drops green food coloring (optional)
  • 1 (9-inch) pastry shell, baked and cooled

Directions:

  1. Dissolve Jell-O gelatin in boiling water.
  2. Add lime rind and juice.
  3. Beat egg yolk slightly. Slowly add gelatin, stirring constantly.
  4. Add condensed milk and sour cream, stirring until blended.
  5. Chill until slightly thickened.
  6. Beat egg white until stiff peaks will form. Fold into gelatin mixture.
  7. Add the food coloring (if using) and pour into pastry shell.
  8. Chill until firm.

Orange chiffon pie

Makes 8 servings

If you're craving a refreshing summertime treat in the dead of winter, look no further -- this fluffy and fantastic pie is easy to make and even easier to eat!

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1-1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 (3 ounce) package orange Jell-O gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (9-inch) graham cracker crumb crust, baked and cooled

Directions:

  1. Combine egg yolks, 1 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar in saucepan. Cook over low heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly.
  2. Remove from heat. Add Jell-O gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add 1/2 cup water and the orange juice and zest. Chill until slightly thickened.
  3. Beat egg whites and salt until foamy.
  4. Add 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition until blended.
  5. Then beat until mixture will stand in stiff peaks.
  6. Beat gelatin mixture slightly. Fold into meringue and again beat mixtures very slightly.
  7. Pour into the prepared crumb crust and chill until firm.

Strawberry poke cake

Serves 12

The ribbons of color scattered throughout this cake make it particularly beautiful. Bonus -- it's extremely flavorful as well!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (18-1/4 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen strawberries, thawed and sliced
  • 2 (3 ounce) packages strawberry Jell-O gelatin
  • 1 (12 ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
  • Fresh strawberries, for garnish

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to at 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  • In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, water, eggs and oil for 2 minutes.
  • Pour into two greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Return layers, top side up, to two clean 9-inch round pans. Pierce cakes all over with a wooden skewer.
  • Drain juice from strawberries into a 2-cup measuring cup. Refrigerate berries.
  • Add water to juice to measure 2 cups. Pour into a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil. Stir in Jell-O until dissolved.
  • Chill for 30 minutes, then gently spoon over each cake layer. Chill for 2-3 hours.
  • Dip bottom of one pan in warm water for 10 seconds. Invert cake onto a serving platter.
  • Top with reserved strawberries and 1 cup whipped topping. Place second cake layer over topping.
  • Frost cake with remaining whipped topping. Chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with fresh berries if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

More Jell-O ideas:

Orange dreamsicle cupcakes
Jell-O worms for Halloween
Popsicles for pennies

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