Jello and Jack Benny

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  Back in 1937, if you listened to the radio at 7 p.m. Eastern, chances are you settled in with Jack Benny and his wife Mary Livingstone for a few good laughs. During the break you heard a commercial, and judging by the unlikely pairing of comedy and gelatin in the booklet above, I’m thinking that sponsor was Jello-O. Doesn’t everyone love it? And isn’t there always room for it?

    I’m going to kick off my first Old Food food lab with something cool and calm and easy and Jello based. If it’s good enough for Jack Benny, it’s good enough for me.

    I paged through the recipe book studying the sections for desserts and salads and entrees (oh yea, who doesn’t love a salmon mold or a creamy pimento ring?). I was mesmerized by a two-page section called “Clever Tricks with Jello.” It boggles the mind to know clever food technicians in a test kitchen more than 70 years ago were refining techniques for making jello flakes, jello cubes, fruited jello, jello whips and jello mounds.

   But I kept paging, looking for something simple, yet unique and something that matched the staples in my pantry. Finally, on page 9, it clicked: Marmalade Bavarian. The last time I made a Bavarian was in an advanced foods class back in 1975, and I knew it met all my criteria.

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Here’s the recipe, as printed with a few comments from me thrown in for good measure:

     1 package Orange Jello

1 3/4 cups hot water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup orange marmalade

   Dissolve Jello-O in hot water. Add salt (really?). Chill until cold and syrupy (Now this was tricky and I may have failed basic Jello-protocol here. When I checked after 45 minutes, the jello was thicker but not syrupy. I should have been more vigilant because when I checked again 30 minutes later it has begun to set!!!) Fold in cream, whipped only until thick and shiny, but not stiff (I never detected a sheen to the cream, but mine thickened enough to proceed). Fold in marmalade. Chill until slightly thickened. Turn into mold. (I turned it into the mold directly after adding the marmalade. Why wait?) Chill until firm. Unmold (Always the most daunting element of jello cookery. I immersed the mold in warm water for 20 seconds. placed a platter over the top and flipped it over. It emerged unscathed. So proud). Garnish with whipped cream (not happening) and additional orange marmalade (Jack, you’re killing me. Ix-nay on the armalade-may). Serves 6.

 And the drumroll, please……

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   Voila!!!  I  detect bits of  irregularly shaped deep orange. Those are jello solids, proof that I allowed the jello to set a bit too much before folding in the cream. I’d give myself a B- due to that, but during our taste test, both my husband and I gave it a thumbs up. It was smooth and not overly sweet or oppressively orangey.  And yes, I’d make it again, probably in the summer when I want an easy, cool dessert.  Another good thing about this recipe. I had an extra bit of heavy cream left over from cooking during Easter weekend. Had I not made this, it  would have sat in my refrigerator for another two weeks and then been tossed. I’m happy that I could use it in something that was not all that horribly high-fat. For my weight watching, point counting brethren, it was 3.5 points a serving.

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