Glass Block Holiday Jello {Festive!}

So a few days ago, I got a text from Sara saying that she noticed I had holiday Jello something on the calendar and was wondering if I was FINALLY posting my soon-to-be-world-famous Jello/cottage cheese/shredded carrot concoction. I texted her back that I was. And then I couldn’t stand myself any longer because if there’s one thing I never joke about, it’s cottage cheese and vegetables in my Jello and told her I was planning on doing this.

Yeah, funny thing, she had taken pictures of the exact same recipe last summer and had never gotten around to it. This is because in spite of the fact that we live thousands of miles from each other, we kind of share a brain. So really, this recipe is from both of us.
I’m actually not a huge Jello fan–I really don’t like the texture and the only times I remember liking straight-up Jello was 1) at Skippers Seafood and Chowder House (has anyone else eaten there? Like…ever? I don’t think I’ve been since I was about 6!) where my mom and I would often dine when I was a kid and 2) after my first c-section when I hadn’t eaten in, like, 36 hours and I was pretty sure that red Jello was the best thing I’d ever tasted. So it is saying a lot when I tell you I thoroughly enjoy this Jello.
Because it is awesome. And your kids will think you’re a rockstar. And grown-ups will start acting like kids (in a silly, Phil Dunphy kind of way and not in an obnoxious Michael Scott kind of way). We had this all the time at birthdays and holiday parties when I was a kid, but I hadn’t seen it in years and then I recently stumbled across my childhood recipe on the lovely Food Librarian’s blog (she has some awesome Jello ideas on her blog if you feel so inclined to peruse!) I was so excited, and so blasted from the past, that I had to make it ASAP.
We’re doing multi-colored Jello here, which I find super-festive,


but you can adapt it for any holiday–red and green for Christmas purists, white and red for Valentine’s Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day, red, white, and blue for the 4th of July, the list goes on and on.

This recipe isn’t hard at all, but it does require a lot of time and planning ahead–to make sure things go ideally, plan on at least 16 hours to make this, just to make sure everything sets up properly.
You’ll need 4 3-oz. boxes of Jello in coordinating/matching/holiday colors. Really, I don’t think the flavors matter–Jello is Jello and it all tastes fruity. It’s kind of like a handful of Skittles–really, they all taste fine together. You’ll also need 1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk!) and a couple of envelopes of unflavored gelatin (like Knox…is there even another brand?)


Clear out an entire shelf of your fridge. Take 4 small plastic food storage containers; you can use any shape and you can even mix and match. Spray them with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Bring about 5 cups of water (no need to measure right now) to a boil. When it has come to a boil, measure out 1 cup of water. Whisk in 1 package of Jello and stir until it’s dissolved.

Pour it into one of the prepared containers:

and repeat with the remaining flavors of Jello and boiling water.

Place these in the refrigerator (uncovered) for at least 4 hours, but overnight is really preferable.

When the Jello has set up, you’ll need to prepare the white “filling.” Sprinkle 2 packets of unflavored gelatin over 1/2 c. of cold water. In the meantime, bring 1 1/2 c. water to a boil (you could totally do this in the microwave in a large glass measuring cup). When the gelatin has stood for 4-5 minutes, add the boiling water and stir to dissolve.

Add in the can of sweetened condensed milk

and whisk the mixture until the milk is fully incorporated into the water/gelatin mixture. Allow the milk mixture to cool while you prepare the color cubes.

Remove the colored Jello from the fridge and carefully cut it into squares.

When I say “carefully,” I mean to try and not have too many jagged edges, but don’t worry about making the squares perfect. Part of the beauty of this Jello is a little variation!

Lightly spray a 9×13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray. Gently toss the cubes together in the pan.

Um…isn’t that the coolest thing ever??
When the milk mixture has cooled (you don’t have to chill it; in fact, don’t do that–it just needs to be about room temperatures), carefully pour it over the Jello cubes.

Some of the blocks will float to the top. You may need to rearrange things a little so you don’t have all of one color in one area of the pan and so the cubes are evenly distributed. Also, poke down some of the floaters so they’re not COMPLETELY protruding from the white mixture.

Place the pan on a completely level surface in the fridge and refrigerate, (uncovered) overnight or at least 8 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, carefully cut these bad boys into squares or rectangles

or you could even use cookie cutters.

Prepare yourself for lots of “oohs” and “aahs“!

 

 

171 comments

  1. um… am I the only one that thinks they look like soap? Truth be told, I've always wanted to bite into those fancy bars. I think I'm going to like this dessert.

  2. My kids would love this! How simple and what fun!! My 3 year old has discovered the wonders of jello and has been on a jello kick for the past two days so I may have to make some for him today.

  3. For those looking to substitute the sweetened condensed milk, I wonder if maybe coconut milk might be a good. It's sooo yummy!

  4. amazing! These sound easier to make once you explained the process then what I first thought by looking at the first picture.I must try these. My kids will freak out!

  5. oh wow! I think I just found my new holiday desert for gatherings! The kids (and grown ups) are going to love these this year. Thanks so much.

  6. Jenn–Yep, I bet you could totally do that. The good thing about this Jello is that it is naturally stiff, so you don't have to worry quite so much about the massive potential Jello mess–the texture is more like Jello Jigglers.

    Lizzie–What if you replaced the sweetened condensed milk with pear juice or white grape juice concentrate? That way, you could still get some flavor without having the s.c. milk.

  7. Jen- that would be fine. Or really, for a classroom party it might be easier to have it cut into small squares on a serving tray all ready to be picked up by little fingers. That is, if there's a way to keep it cold until then. If not, sure, just leave it in the pan.

    Lizzie- it's sweetened condensed milk! Does your hubby know that's sooo different (taste wise) than a glass of milk? lol. Sorry, I just can't imagine a life without sweetened condensed milk! Plain gelatin is flavorless so I definitely wouldn't do that. I suppose you could just use regular jello in a fairly light color, but it definitely wouldn't be as pretty. You could also probably substitute a light colored fruit juice, but I can't guarantee the quantities are going to be right for the firmness you need because we've never played around with it.

  8. question – do you have to do the condensed milk? my husband loves jello, but doesnt drink milk…. and if he thinks that there is anything RELATED to milk in it, he won't eat it, lol!!! could you do the unflavored gelatin alone, no condensed milk and make the bars clear? i mean i dont see why you couldnt do it that way, i just wondered if the condensed milk adds some special texture or flavor that can not be done without. thanks!

    1. We are lactose intolerant in my house so dairy milk regardless of its preparation is a no no in my house . I bet you could use coconut milk, or coconut cream. Coconut cream is pretty close to the same consistency as condensed milk and since you use coconut cream to make pina colada Id be willing to be that its plenty sweet enough. Its worth a try…i think maybe ill give it a shot and see what happens.

    2. Lizzie, will your husband eat imitation whipped topping ? In the 50’s and 60’s my mother made “Stained Glass” dessert with Jello cubes mixed with thawed, (previously frozen) whipped topping just before serving. It also was delish!
      The topping is carefully folded into the Jello cubes and served with a large spoon.

  9. do you all think if leaving in pan and then cutting as needed would be okay?

    I have a 13×9 pan that has a lid and came in an insulated carrier with a hot/cold pack. this way it would stay cold at school during the party?

    or do you have any suggestions in how to keep it cold, and not messy for serving purposes at a classroom party?

  10. Thanks for the suggestion! My daughter is out of school until January 4 (darn year-round school!) and this would be a perfect activity to keep her busy. And it's just so darn pretty!

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