By now you probably know that I love retrorecipes. This one was inspired by a recipe in a spiral-bound 1963 cookbook called ‘Joys of Jello’. It was given to me by Oscar, a friend of the family who just turned 91 years old. I feel lucky that he chose me to inherit some of his late wife’s cookbooks and recipes. I intend to put them all to good use!
Leafing through the book was like backward time travel. Some recipes were kooky (hellooo ‘Ring Around the Tuna’– an actual recipe on page 65) and clearly belonged in this category, while others looked deliciously fruity and fun. I picked out one of the fruity recipes and gave it a maraschino cherry makeover. I love the aesthetic of Broken Glass Dessert (also known as Crown Jewel Cake, that’s my version from 2011), so I added a few cherry Jello cubes to the recipe.
Yes absolutely without question I adore a graham cracker crust. This one is made of just two ingredients: melted butter and crumbs. The whipped maraschino filling will set up quick, so as soon as you pour it over the crust, add the jello cubes on top and press them in with your fingers (or the back of a spatula). Spread on the whipped topping and chill in the fridge until firm.
The filling has the unmistakable flavor of maraschino cherry and a creamy-spongy texture. The buttery graham crust and whipped cream makes this dessert reminiscent of no-bake pie. I added a small ribbon of chocolate on top of each square because I thought it would look pretty, and I like a little chocolate with my cherries.
Whipped Maraschino Cherry Squares
- 1 package 3oz/85g Cherry or Black Cherry Jello Gelatin
- 1 cup 240 ml boiling water
- 1/2 cup 120 ml cold water
- 1 cup 100g graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- Maraschino cherry filling
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon plain powdered gelatin about 2.5 envelopes
- 1 cup 240 ml maraschino cherry juice
- 1/4 cup 60 ml cold water
- 1 1/2 cups 360 ml heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks
Whipped cream topping
- 3/4 cup 180 ml heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Chocolate ribbon and décor
- 3 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 8-10 whole maraschino cherries with stems
- Make the Jello cubes: Combine the package of cherry Jello and hot water in a bowl; stir until the sugar is dissolved and stir in the cold water. Pour the gelatin in a shallow dish (8 or 9-inch) and refrigerate for several hours or overnight until firm. Cut the firm Jello into 1-inch cubes. Measure out about 2/3 cup cubes and set aside (you will have left over Jello cubes for snacks!).
- Line an 8×8 inch square pan with parchment paper (or waxed paper) that overhangs all four edges of the pan.
- Make the graham crust: Stir together the graham crumbs and melted butter until all the crumbs are coated and the mixture resembles wet sand. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Make the filling: Whisk together the powdered gelatin and maraschino juice in a small saucepan; wait about 3 minutes for the gelatin to disperse evenly. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is clear and no granules of gelatin remain. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl; add the 1/4 cup cold water and stir. Refrigerate until cool (stirring intermittently) and slightly thickened but not set, about 10 minutes. Fold the maraschino gelatin mixture into the whipped cream and immediately pour over the graham crust in the pan. Quickly add the Jello cubes and press them into the mixture with the back of a spatula.
- Make the whipped cream: In an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the heavy cream while adding the granulated sugar gradually. Beat to stiff peaks. Spread the whipped topping over the maraschino filling. Refrigerate until the dessert is set, about 3 to 4 hours.
- Prepare the chocolate: Heat the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave at 100% power at 20 second increments until the chocolate is melted and can be stirred smooth. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a zip-top bag and snip a tiny hole in one corner.
- Remove the dessert from the pan by lifting it out by the overhanging paper. Cut into squares. Arrange the squares on a large serving plate and pipe chocolate ribbons onto each square. Top each square with one maraschino cherry. Serve.
- Keep left overs covered in the refrigerator.