Yes, It's a Side Dish: Red Hot Jell-o

6 years ago

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One recipe makes it onto every holiday menu at our house. It's my favorite from childhood. Note: I jotted the how-to in my "Joy of Cooking for Boys and Girls" so I wouldn't ever not be able to make it.

My mother preferred a cranberry salad mold and often would ONLY make that until I got old enough to effectively protest. I sometimes miss that salad, but know no one else would eat it.

This side dish is of the "Yes, it is a salad not a dessert!" variety, even though it really is more dessert-like than side dish. Put some lettuce under it if it troubles you too much.

Red Hot Jell-o

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup cinnamon imperials/red hots (I encourage the kind from the candy section -- the ones in the decor/baking section do not reliably dissolve perfectly and cost more. On the night before Christmas, I will take them in any form whatsoever if for some reason we are out.)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 packet Knox gelatin
  • 1 large box strawberry banana Jell-o
  • 1 jar applesauce, unsweetened (but if you get sweetened, it won't be the end of the world)

Set water to boil on stove with candies in it. Stir and wait for all candies to dissolve and rolling boil to be reached.

While doing this mix the dry gelatin with box of strawberry gelatin. Yes, you can do the soften-gelatin-in-a-few-tablespoons-of-water thing, but I end up with lumps and why bother if you can mix it together dry.

When candies dissolve and you have a good boil (usually boil comes first) dump that into the gelatin combo. Stir until all gelatin is dissolved. Add one cup cold water and the jar of applesauce. Stir.

Now here is the thing about this part -- if you let the gelatin partially set before you add the applesauce or if you stir while the gelatin sets, you will get a more even distribution of applesauce. Otherwise, you end up with about 1/4-1 inch of non-textured jello. This really doesn't matter to anyone but me. I often forget to do this because I am too busy making other things on holidays. If you don't add the Knox -- no worries -- it won't come out as firm and I wouldn't flip it on a plate but it is still yummy.

If you want, add another cup of cold water, another box of Jell-o more applesauce, more red hots. It is a forgiving recipe. It also doubles well.

Photo Credit: Paul Carroll.

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