There’s Always Room for J-E-L-L-O
Do Not Laugh. Yes, this is a recipe for jello, not the boxed Jello you made with your mom when you were a kid (your job-pour the contents into a big bowl), oh no. The Asian version of Jello, Almond Jello. So good, it brings a whole new dimension to Jello. It’s delicious, light and refreshing. If you have ever had a meal in a Chinese restaurant which served a dessert other than fortune cookies, it might have been Almond Jello. Unfortunately, much of the Almond Jello served in restaurants isn’t very good. I have a theory, LOTS of Asians are lactose intolerant so milk is used sparingly. Well, that’s what makes Almond Jello YUMMY, the addition of milk-like the white layers of finger jello or the cream cheese in that funky but delicious Lime and Pineapple Jello Ring that everyone’s aunt (who couldn’t cook) brought to every potluck. Jello with Moo-magic.
When I was a kid the fanciest restaurant in Chinatown was The Empress of China. In its heyday celebrities and politicians clamored there. My folks would take us there for very special occasions-birthday dinners for grandparents, wedding banquets and Chinese New Year. High on the 6th floor, it had the most breathtaking views of the City and the East Bay. I loved the Green Jade Mist Almond Delight, their version of Almond Jello. Served in a goblet with a touch of Creme de Menthe it was the glitzy ending to a fancy meal.
Typically Almond Jello is topped with fruit, not creme de menthe. You can use mandarin oranges or fruit cocktail (when is the last time you had fruit cocktail out of a can? Strictly nostalgic choice) or Lychees. Use fruit packed in light syrup or its own juice. I add the syrup or juice to the jello so it just slides down your throat, like having jello soup. Confession, I loved pouring milk on my jello, same effect. Canned fruit makes it a great winter dessert when fresh fruit can be hard to find. You could jazz it up seasonally by adding fresh strawberries or blueberries. This recipe makes a soft jello which I happen to like. If you like jello that has the consistency of finger jello, reduce the amount of the water in the recipe to 3/4 cup of each and the milk to 2 cups.
When I was pregnant with my oldest, my craving was Almond Jello. I made vats of it, doubling, tripling, even quadrupling the recipe. Seriously, it was like gestational crack.
These days I make Almond Jello when my oldest kid comes home. He loves it. If I don’t steal a couple of scoops before I let him know there is a bowl in the fridge, I will have lost my window of opportunity to have some.
It’s stupid easy, so delicious. Try it, who doesn’t like jello?
- 2 packets gelatin
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup hot water
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (you an adjust the sugar to the sweetness of your liking)
- 2 1/4-2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 15 ounce can of Mandarin oranges packed light syrup
- Put cold water in a mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle gelatin on surface of cold water. Let it sit for one minute
- Add sugar and stir.
- Add hot water and stir until completely dissolved. (I cheat, if it doesn't look fully dissolved, zap it for 15 seconds in the microwave)
- Stir in milk and extracts. Pour mixture into individual serving bowls or 1 large glass bowl such as a souffle dish
- Chill until firm (at least 2-3 hours)
- Cut jello into cubes if desired. Top with mandarin oranges