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Jello-O, Still Breaking the Mold

It shimmies. It shakes. It glides down your throat, and it evokes memories of a cool treat on summer evenings or easing the sting after a tonsillectomy.

Many a Boomer may have thought Jell-O was a thing of the past. Weekend Edition food enthusiast Bonny Wolf knows better.

There's always room for Jell-O recipes. Try these three:

Marcie Goldberg's Jell-O Mold

This recipe is from the Norwich, Conn., mother-in-law of a friend of a friend of a friend. It can be molded or just served in a cut crystal bowl.

1 3-oz box raspberry gelatin

1 cup hot water

1/2 cup cold water

1 small orange

1/2 cup crushed, canned pineapple drained

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 1-lb. can whole cranberries

Dissolve gelatin completely in hot water. Add cold water and chill until partially thickened. Peel orange and cut segments in thirds. Mix orange pieces with pineapple, cranberries and walnuts. When gelatin is partially thickened (be sure not to let it set completely), fold the fruit and nut mixture into the gelatin and pour the whole thing in a one-quart mold or bowl. Put back in the refrigerator and let set at least another hour.

Rita Wagner's Red, White and Blue Jell-O Mold

My friend Jeffrey's late mother made this in her Baltimore, Md., kitchen.

1 6-oz. package cherry Jell-O

1 10-oz. package frozen strawberries, drained

1 3-oz package lemon Jell-O

2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

1/2 lb. cream cheese

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup milk

1 6-oz. package blackberry Jell-O

1 large can blueberries, do not drain (no more-specific size was given for blueberries so use to taste)

Blue layer:

Stir 2 cups boiling water into blackberry Jell-O at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in 2 cups cold water. Add blueberries, pour into mold, refrigerate until firm.

White layer:

Beat cream cheese, milk, sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Stir 1/2 cup boiling water into lemon Jell-O until completely dissolved. Combine with cheese mixture. When quite thick, pour over blue layer. Refrigerate and let set until firm.

Red layer:

Stir 2 cups boiling water into cherry Jell-O until completely dissolved. Add strawberries, pour into mold, refrigerate and let set until firm.

Strawberry Pretzel Jell-O

A crisp, salty pretzel crust complements the creamy marshmallow-fluff-like white layer, with a tangy topping of strawberries in gelatin. Much like a strawberry cheesecake, but with the surprise of pretzels.

For best results, make no more than one day in advance, to preserve the crunchy texture of the pretzels. Chef Andy hint: Pretzels can be crushed by grinding them between two mixing bowls of different sizes.

2 cups crushed pretzels (about 4 cups crushed, or 6 oz.)

3/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 8-oz. tub Cool Whip non-dairy whipped topping

1/2 cup sugar

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

2 3-oz. packages strawberry Jell-O gelatin dessert

1 16-oz. package frozen sweetened sliced strawberries, partially thawed

1 cup boiling water


Combine pretzels, butter and 1/4 cup sugar. Press into 9” x 13” baking dish and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature or else it'll melt the white layer.

White layer:

Cream together cream cheese and ½ cup sugar. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread over pretzel crust.

Red layer:

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in frozen strawberries. Chill until partially set (about 10 minutes) and spread over white layer.

Chill until set and serve.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR commentator Bonny Wolf grew up in Minnesota and has worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in New Jersey and Texas. She taught journalism at Texas A&M University where she encouraged her student, Lyle Lovett, to give up music and get a real job. Wolf gives better advice about cooking and eating, and contributes her monthly food essay to NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday. She is also a contributing editor to "Kitchen Window," NPR's Web-only, weekly food column.