Beach Glass Jelly Squares
When I think of throwback ’80s desserts, spread on a potluck table, one of the first ones that I remember is the colorful stained glass Jell-O. Do you remember these? Sometimes they are called “broken glass Jell-O” (truly such an unfortunate name for something so delicious!). These jellied squares are the ultimate in jellied rainbow fun. They’re made by creating several batches of Jell-O of various flavors, which are then chopped up and bound together with a creamy gelled mixture made with sweetened condensed milk.
I have a nostalgic love for these little Jell-O jumbles, which are quite surprisingly refreshing, if overly sweet. When I wrote my book on no-bake desserts and puddings, I knew I wanted to include this throwback classic, but I wanted my version to be a fresh, natural spin on the original.
Instead of sweetened condensed milk, I make the binding gelatin mixture with barely sweet yogurt, which adds a gentle tang. For the jellies, I use fresh juices. I suggest some favorite flavor combos below, but you can use whatever juices you like and whatever will look pretty in the mix.
The finished treat is an incredibly refreshing and cool little square that tastes of fruit and yogurt and just melts in your mouth. Sure, it’s a throwback, but one that’s just right for right now.
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 7 minutes
For the fruit jellies:
- 1 1/2 cups
cherry or grape juice
- 3 tablespoons
powdered gelatin (about 7 packets), divided
- 1 1/2 cups
white grape juice
- 1 cup
- 1/2 cup
For the yogurt jelly:
- 2 cups
- 2 cups
full-fat plain yogurt (not Greek)
- 1/2 teaspoon
- 1/2 cup
- 2 tablespoons
powdered gelatin (about 5 packs)
- 1/4 cup
Make the fruit jellies:
Lightly coat 3 small food storage containers or baking pans, such as 8x4-inch loaf pans, with cooking spray.
Pour 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape juice into a small saucepan. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the powdered gelatin over the juice. Let stand for 5 minutes or until soft and wrinkled. Gently warm the juice and gelatin over very low heat, stirring or whisking frequently until the gelatin is fully dissolved. This will happen quicker than you might expect: two or three minutes at most. Do not let the liquid bubble or boil. Tilt the pan from side to side and look for gelatin grains, or rub the mixture between your fingers; it should feel silky. Pour the juice into one of the prepared pans. Rinse out and dry the saucepan.
Repeat this process with 1 1/2 cups white grape juice and 1 tablespoon gelatin. Pour into a second pan. For the third batch, mix 1 cup lemonade and 1/2 cup orange juice in the saucepan, then repeat with 1 tablespoon gelatin. Pour into the third pan.
Refrigerate until very firm, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Remove the firm jellies from the pans to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Transfer to the baking dish and jumble up the colors and sizes and shapes. Arrange into an even layer.
Make the yogurt jelly:
Place 2 cups whole milk, 2 cups plain yogurt, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Transfer 1/2 cup to a small saucepan.
Add 1/2 cup water to the saucepan and stir to combine. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons powdered gelatin over the surface. Let stand for 5 minutes or until soft and wrinkled. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and gently heat over very low heat, stirring or whisking frequently, until the gelatin and sugar are fully dissolved. This will happen quicker than you might expect: two or three minutes at most. Do not let the liquid bubble or boil.
Add the remaining milk mixture and whisk to combine. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Pour evenly over the jelly pieces in the baking dish. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Cut into squares to serve.
Make ahead: This can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated.
Adapted from Bakeless Sweets: Pudding, Panna Cotta, Fluff, Icebox Cake & More No-Bake Desserts by Faith Durand (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013).