Trust me, this looked excellent before we demolished it.
And the fact that we demolished it implies (correctly) that it tasted really good, too!
It’s the perfect Jell-O salad for a Fourth of July meal. Like all Jell-O salads, its cool fruitiness is a great complement to barbecue, hamburgers, hotdogs, or whatever. And it’s refreshing on a hot day (like it always is here, in July). And face it, most Jell-O salads are more like dessert than a health food, and it’s a holiday, so hey, rock on!
But you gotta be fast if you want to take a picture of it.
File this one under “retro recipes.” I found it in the 125 Year Anniversary Commemorative Cookbook from Trinity Lutheran Church, published in 1995 or 1996. The original recipe, according to that collection, was in “the Kitchen Klatter Cookbook, published in 1982.” (Does that mean the magazine? I can’t find evidence that a Kitchen-Klatter cookbook was published in 1982; only in 1977. Hmm.)
Or it could have come from Country Woman magazine, July/August 2000, p. 42, where apparently it was called “Red, White, and Blueberry Salad”? Online, it’s frequently called “4th of July Party Jello.” (Sic.) (We all know how it’s officially spelled and capitalized: Jell-O.)
Anyway . . . there aren’t many pictures of this particular Jell-O concoction because, no doubt, it gets eaten up before anyone gets a chance to take a picture of it!
I amended the recipe just a tad: It was apparently created before Jell-O had come out with its blueberry flavor/color, so the original called for the blue layer to be created with raspberry Jell-O plus the fruit and juice from a can of blueberries. But shoot! Why not use blueberry, now that it’s available here in the modern age? Real or artificial, flavor-wise, blueberries and raspberries are great friends!
I interpreted the “coffee cream” it called for as “half-and-half,” and I substituted Neufchâtel cheese for the cream cheese in the recipe—it’s got less fat, but darned if I can tell much difference between the two.
Here’s how to make it. Be sure to allow time for each layer to get hard before adding the next—I suggest making it a day ahead. (Which is to say, July 3!)
The recipe suggests using an 8 x 8 or 9 x 11 inch dish. (I used an 8 x 8.)
1. First layer (red):
1 box raspberry Jell-O (regular size box; not the big one)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
Make the raspberry Jell-O per the usual directions on the box. Pour it into the dish and chill until firm.
2. Second layer (white):
1 envelope plain (Knox) gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup half-and-half (or milk)
1/2 cup sugar
1 (8-oz.) package of cream cheese (I use the lighter Neufchâtel cheese), softened a bit
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup pecan pieces
In a little bowl, stir the gelatin into the water and let soften. In a saucepan, heat the half-and-half with the sugar until hot but not boiling. Add the gelatin, mix, and let cool. When it’s no longer hot, in a blender or food processor, mix the gelatin mixture with the cream cheese, vanilla, and pecans.
Pour this white layer over the red layer and chill until firm.
3. Third layer (blue):
1 package blueberry Jell-O (again, regular size box)
1 cup boiling water
1 (approx. 15-oz.) can blueberries with juice (such as Oregon brand)
Dissolve the Jell-O in the boiling water. Stir in blueberries, with their juice. Let it cool so that it’s not hot (you don’t want it to melt the gelatin you’re pouring it on), then pour this blue layer over the white layer and chill until it’s firm.
This is really delicious. If you’re like me, the slightly tangy, creamy white layer, with its pecans, will really transport you back to childhood potlucks from the sixties and seventies. Back then, I would have had no idea what was in that white “mystery” layer—but I sure would have given it my approval!