I have always had a strong emotional connection to food, in the way that it ties family, traditions, and memories together. Since my Mom doesn’t remember a lot of things, due to some serious health challenges, my siblings and I really cling to the food-centered traditions and memories she created when we were growing up, and this is one of them. What’s funny is just like that ‘huge’ hill you used to bike down when you were a kid, that in reality is nothing more than a slight incline, so many of our food traditions were SO fancy and special and exciting as children, and now that I’m an adult, I’m surprised at how simple many of our favorites are. This fruity mousse, for example (which in my family will forever and always be called “Peach-Jello-Fluff” no matter what flavor we’re making it). When I dug up the recipe, and then texted my sister just to make sure I had it right, I was stunned at how easy it was. The funny thing is that my Mom would make this in a worn-out tupperware container for an after-school snack, yet the very same recipe would fill little individual crystal bowls and be topped with a pillowy cloud of Cool Whip and adorn our Christmas and Easter tables with the fancy China and gold-plated flatware. This is one of those great recipes that can go from quick and casual, to special and fancy. It’s such a great little treat to whip up when you’re short on time and ingredients, but want something fun and homemade. It was a family favorite when I was a little girl, and now it’s a family favorite for my three boys. It literally takes minutes to make and my kids think it’s soooo special, just like I did.
You can use any flavor of Jell-0 in this recipe. Honestly, I’ve never made it with a flavor I didn’t like. Lemon seems so fresh and springy, and since it was dumping snow at my house on the first day of spring, I’m desperately channeling “fresh-and-springy!” You can also use a small box, or a large box of Jell-o, regular, or sugar free. Aren’t we so nice to provide so many options for you? I thought so. I’m going to write this recipe out using a small box, but obviously, just double everything for a large box.
Start by dissolving Jell-o in one cup of boiling water. Just give it a quick stir, it only takes a few seconds.
Pour the mixture into a blender and add 4 ounces of cream cheese. You can use low-fat cream cheese, but I usually stay away from fat free for recipes. The hot Jell-o will melt that cream cheese super fast and it will soon be a lovely pastel color.
When that’s blended, add a half cup of very cold water and pulse to combine. Next up is half of an 8-ounce container of light, creamy Cool Whip.
Place it right in the blender and blend until the mixture is smooth- just a few seconds!
We’re already about done- what was that, like 2 1/2 minutes?? You can now pour the mixture into one large serving bowl, or into individual containers. You know I always pick individual serving dishes! At this point, just pop it in the fridge to chill.
After it’s chilled, it’s time for topping. The quickest and easiest route is just to use a dollop of the remaining Cool Whip and you can even sprinkle on some citrus zest if you’re feeling fancy.
The mousse sets up like gelatin, but softer and creamier. Combined with the fluffy topping, it’s a little cup of heaven (that only took you about 5 minutes of prep time!)
But let me show you how to make it even better. My mom would top it with something extra special when we had it on the holiday table and it’s still my favorite way to eat it. Take the remaining half of the block of cream cheese and beat it with a little powdered sugar, a splash of vanilla,
and some orange (or clementine!) zest and juice.
After that’s beaten until it’s smooth and creamy, fold in the remaining Cool Whip. When you ‘fold’ something, it’s a process that helps keep the light and airy texture of something like egg whites, whipped cream, or in this case Cool Whip. Take a spoonful and stir it in, just to lighten the mixture and then add the remainder. At this point, don’t stir. You want to use your spatula and cut down the middle of the mixture, scraping along the bottom of the bowl moving outward and then ‘fold’ it over the top of the mixture. Continue doing this until it’s all folded in and combined.
At this point, feel free to add in extra orange juice for consistency. The mousse is nice and light, so you want your topping to be light and spreadable. Different brands of cream cheese have different consistencies, so you can adjust the orange juice accordingly.
Spread, dollop, or pipe the topping on the mousse just before serving. I put the topping in a piping bag and used a jumbo swirl tip to pipe it on the top. I reached instant super-mom status when my kids saw these little mini glasses with swirly cupcake-style topping. A perfect example of how a really simple recipe, can be turned into something special and extra fun- all with presentation!
My boys asked me if we were having a party and their eyes lit up when I said, “Nope, I made them just for you!”
I love making these in a rainbow of colors; these would be great for an upcoming Easter meal in pretty pastels.
And speaking of rainbows- if you want to get really creative, let layers solidify in the fridge and then add another flavor on top. This looks great in individual serving dishes and also larger ones where you can scoop out servings.
Any way you cut it (or scoop it!) this one is sure to be a pleaser with both kids and adults. Enjoy!
Easy Creamy Fruit Mousse
Recipe by Our Best Bites
1 small (3 oz) box fruit flavored gelatin, regular or sugar free
1 cup boiling water
8 ounces cream cheese, divided
1/2 cup cold water
8 ounce container Cool Whip, divided
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small orange
Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Place in blender and add 4 ounces (half of the package) cream cheese. Process until smooth. Add cold water and pulse blender to stir. Add half of the container of Cool Whip (about a heaping cup) to the blender and process just until combined and mixture is free of lumps.
Pour mixture into one serving bowl, or several smaller individual sized dishes. Refrigerate until firm, 3-4 hours. Either top with remaining Cool Whip or continue on with topping recipe.
To make topping, beat remaining 4 ounces cream cheese with powdered sugar, vanilla, about 1 teaspoon orange zest (more if desired) and one teaspoon of the orange juice. Blend until creamy and smooth, and fold in remaining 4 ounces Cool Whip. Add more orange juice if needed for consistency. Dollop, pipe, or spread topping over chilled mousse just before serving. If you refrigerate the mousse with the topping on, it will harden, so it’s best to whip it up just before serving. Makes about 6, 1/2 cup servings.
I am from Maldives and they dont sell Cool Whip. So can I use regular Whipped Cream for this? And can I use a pudding mix or a jelly mix instead of Jell-o? Please let me know! 🙂
You can definitely use real whipped cream, but I don’t know of a substitute for the Jell-O! Pudding won’t have the same texture, but it would still taste really yummy 🙂
This looks awesome! I’m going to try but have a question: Should the Cool Whip be frozen or thawed for this recipe?
Made this for the first time last night – the family loved it and wants to know when I’ll make it again, it was SOOOO good, and easy! I lightened up the calories using sugar-free jello, light cool-whip and light cream cheese, and you couldn’t tell it was a low-fat/sugar recipe. I love how versatile it can be with all the different flavors of jello, and am thinking ahead to how I can layer colors for 4th of July for patriotic dessert!
I live in UK, so can you tell me a substitute for Cool Whip? They don’t sell it here.
sara! this recipe looks delicious, but i have a question: once the mousse is done chilling and setting in the fridge, could i use it as a filling for cakes? i’ve been trying to find the perfect filling for a strawberry cake and i’d love to know if this mousse is the right consistency to fill the layers!
You know, I’ve never used it in a cake, but I actually think it would work pretty well. Let me know if you try it!
would love to be able to print a recipe with a picture????? thank you
Just click the “print recipe” button and there are no pictures 🙂
I just wanted to let you know I featured a modified version of this recipe on my website: http://www.domesticdork.com/2012/07/best-summer-dessert-recipeever.html
I LOVE this recipe. It really is as easy as you made it sound! I’m already dreaming up new ways to modify it some more.
Are there any gelatin alternatives for this? Or do you know of any gelatins that don’t use animal byproducts? I know kosher gelatin doesn’t but I can’t find any of it in the stores nearby.
I’m not sure–I know agar agar is sometimes used as a vegetarian gelatin substitute, but that may be harder to find (especially in flavors) than kosher gelatin. Good luck!
I love this recipe! I’ve already made it so many times. My favorite variation: poured into a graham cracker crust, topped with whip cream and strawberries–strawberry mousse pie! And there’s usually a little mousse leftover to snack on. 🙂
this recipe sounds like so much fun. Have you ever tried making it with heavy cream instead of the cool whip?
I made a double batch of this for our Easter dinner. It was gone in a flash! Ended up with two little ones in tears because their mommas told them they had to eat the healthy food on their plates first and then when they did what was asked of them….it was gone! So sad 🙁 Note for next time: Make more!!!
Do you how many oz those mini cups are? I found some 1.75 oz cups online but I’m wondering if that would be too small for a dessert shooter
I’m not sure- mine are about 3 ounces tall so that sounds about right.
Hi, this was so easy to make and soooooo delicious. Thank you so much for sharing.
Just one thing though, after it set I noticed a layer of clear gelatin had formed at the bottom of the container. Is this normal? Or is there something I am not doing right?
Ya know, my brother mentioned this happens sometimes when he makes it too and we’re not sure why! Maybe the particular way it blended? Or the brands of products used? I really don’t have an answer!
Thanks for the response Sara. I will try it a couple of more times and see what happens. It still tastes nice anyways. Ends up looking like there’s an additional bottom layer!
I made this with pineapple Jell-o for Easter. It was so good! My favorite way to eat Jell-o. Mine had the thin layer of clear Jell-o on the bottom, too. I used all name brand ingredients and blended everything thoroughly (though I had to stir in the Cool Whip by hand). Tasted good anyway!
I have seen that several food bloggers have the Blendtec blenders! Is there somewhere where I can get a good deal on them as they are SUPER expensive?
They’re pretty much expensive any way you swing it! I’be found that bed bath and beyond is a great deal though, you can have them order it for you in-store and use a 20% coupon which knocks the price way down. They also sell both blendtec and vitamix at Costco road shows and they’re a little less there as well (but still not as low as BB&B)
I made this for Easter dessert (made lemon and strawberry flavors) and it was a HUGE hit with my fam! Thank you!!
This was a very fun and tasty recipe, (although I used mango fruit juice in lieu of water and unflavored gelatin, and added about 2 Tblsp of sugar). Anyway, how did you get it to layer? When I tried to layer a separate flavor of orange, it does not stay separated, and when I waited for it to gel separately, and add to layer – that did not work so well! Help!!!! Thank you!
I made Lime for easter and it was fresh, fantastic and popular! =]
We had this lovely dessert at our Easter table. 🙂 Thank you! The flavored topping was delish!!!! So easy and added so much color to the tablescape.
Thanks! I made some with jello and some with pudding and milk. Both were great.
Can you use chocolate jello (the pudding type) for this?
You could- it would be a different type of dessert, but definitely still yummy ( I would guess!)
It’s been a crazy and sad week at our house, including the death of one of our beloved bunnies. I didn’t have a single thing planned for Easter but I will be making this dessert using some pineapple Jell-o I have in the pantry. Last time I made a Jell-o dessert was your beautiful stained glass Jell-o (if I got the name wrong, it’s the one with the cubes of Jell-o suspended in white gelatin), which I made for my first Christmas with my in-laws in 2010 🙂
Just got home from Wal-Mart with pretty much every flavor of Jello and 5 big tubs of Cool Whip! I’m so excited about making these!! 🙂
I can’t wait to make these. I love the rainbow ones.
Made this as a test run before Easter with strawberry Jell-O and the special cream cheese and Cool Whip with orange zest concoction on top. Delish! Thank you!
Can you put them in the freezer to hurry the chilling time?
I made these tonight as a “test run” before Easter. Tonight I layered strawberry and a melon-flavored green Jell-o. Glad I did the test run, ha ha. I accidentally added a full cup of cold water. For the record, they still came out delicious, but the texture was more “fluffy.” So my strawberry layer was more “mousse” and my melon layer was more “custard” if that makes any sense.
For Easter, my layers will be peach, lemon and cherry. THANK YOU for this one!
I made this over the weekend as a treat for conference and it was AMAZING! I’ve never had anything like it before and it was sooo good! Thanks for sharing!!
What flavors did you use to make the layered Jello? I love how the colors came out! Are the flavors as complimentary as the colors?
Melanie, I used lemon, orange, and strawberry. And yes- the flavors are definitely yummy together!
Thanks for the heads up! I think the color combo looks perfect for Easter, can’t wait to make it for the potluck we’re going to today!
YUM, YUM, YUM!!
gorgeous! i miss having a tub of cool whip in my freezer at all times…