The final mini season of Mad Men starts Sunday night and I’m sadder than Lois Sadler sent back to the switchboard. Not only do I think Mad Men is one of the best shows on television, but the emphasis on good dialogue makes it the perfect kitchen companion — looking up isn’t critical unless Pete and Trudy are doing the Charleston or Roger shows a little cheek. The tinkle of Don’s ice cubes, that satisfying SNAP each time Betty Draper closes her purse, Sally’s lisp turning into sullen teen monotone, the never-ending smarm of Harry Crane, the clacking typewriters, and terrific jazzy score… Mad Men, you’ve been a true pleasure.
But let’s not leave the 1960s behind just yet, hm? I know I wasn’t ready, so when the lovely and talented Carrie Burrill from Bakeaholic Mama asked if I’d like to participate in a Mad Men Blog Party & Giveaway, I couldn’t resist!
The task was to make a retro-inspired dish, which is (of course) my favorite kind of dish. I’ve made a few Jell-O molds for work this year (most recently a Lime Pineapple Cheese Mold), which prompted one of my co-workers to lend me her 1960’s copy of “The Joys of Jell-O.”
The book is a masterpiece of 1960s cuisine, and one page in particular called to me like a vivid gelatinous siren. Customizable to fit either a mold, pie, or spring-form pan, ladies and gentlemen, may I present the Jell-O Crown Jewel Dessert:
Well, my amateur version of it.
The concept reminded me a lot of the broken glass gelatin recipes (the recipe’s subtitle is “Broken Window Glass Cake”), but rather than calling for condensed milk it uses another boxed dessert — Dream Whip. You can substitute real whipped cream, but when you’re talking about a dish that calls for 4 boxes of assorted Jell-O, why stop there?
I confess I was pleasantly surprised when the “cake” didn’t collapse immediately, but here are my two main quibbles should you want to attempt this:
1. Chilling the gelatin in 8-inch square pans as directed gives you thin sheets of gelatin that are almost impossible to cut into squares (hence my sad, thin rectangles). Next time I’d use a smaller square container (like a Tupperware) to get a thicker layer to work with.
2. I wanted the tall smooth sides you get from a spring-form pan, but because mine has a grooved lip around the edge, it made it very tricky to get my cake server neatly under the graham cracker bottom of each slice so I could (very carefully) lift it without the slice wobbling and breaking. Possible solutions include letting the cake sit at room temperature for a bit first so the crust is more willing, adding another envelope of plain gelatin to the Dream Whip mixture to make the cake extra-firm, or just using a pie pan or sheet pan.
Despite it’s somewhat questionable appearance, I brought this into work and had no trouble finding testers — many of which told me how the taste swiftly and sweetly reminded them of childhood.
Will you be tuning in Sunday night for the first of the final few episodes of Mad Men?
Jell-O Crown Jewel Dessert (Broken Window Glass Cake)
Adapted from “The Joys of Jell-O”
1 package (3 oz. each) orange, cherry, and lime Jell-O (or any 3 flavors)
4 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 package (3 oz.) lemon Jell-O
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter
2 envelopes (1 package) Dream Whip Whipped Topping Mix or 2 cups whipping cream
Prepare the three flavors of gelatin separately, using 1 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup cold water for each. Pour each flavor into an 8-inch square pan. Chill until firm, or overnight.
Combine the lemon gelatin, sugar, and remaining 1 cup of boiling water. Stir until sugar and gelatin are completely dissolved, then stir in pineapple juice. Chill until slightly thickened.
While it chills, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter, then press into the bottom a 9-inch spring-form pan.
Cut the firm gelatin into 1/2-inch cubes, then prepare the whipped topping according to package directions. Blend with the thickened lemon gelatin, then fold in the cubes of gelatin. Pour into the pan and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, run a knife or spatula between the sides of the cake and the pan to loosen, then remove to the pan. If desired, frost top and sides with additional whipped cream.
Yield: 8-10 servings
And here’s the giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a $100 gift card to ModCloth, one 4-quart vintage Pyrex mixing bowl, and one Alan Lee hand-crafted sapphire martini. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
Click here to enter via Rafflecopter Giveaway.
Want to see more retro recipe awesomeness?
Join us for a #MadMenBlogParty!
- Gin Rickey from Bakeaholic Mama
- Whiskey Sour from Pass the Sushi
- Old Fashioned from Poet in the Pantry
- Mad Men Manhattan with Mushroom Pate from Creative Culinary
- Pink French 75 from Kelly Bakes
- Sazerac Cocktail from Jelly Toast Blog
- Classic Negroni from The Messy Baker
- Gimlet from Yankee Kitchen Ninja
- Vegan French Onion Dip from The Viet Vegan
- Pimento Cheese & Crackers from The Noshery
- Chicken Salad Sliders from The Lemon Bowl
- Crab Rangoon from Cooking with Jax
- Fried Green Olives Stuffed with Blue Cheese from Simply Healthy Family
- Cheesy Asparagus Spirals from Comfortably Domestic
- Easy Cocktail Meatballs The Realistic Nutritionist