As America celebrates her 238th birthday bash, and fireworks light up the sky, fun foods will certainly be on the menu. This red, white and blue day calls for a dessert that shows off those colors. Serve a dazzling dessert that incorporates our patriotic colors. Make a 4th of July Poke Cake.
Poke cakes, born in the USA in the late ‘70s, are easy to make, provide bursts of color and definitely qualify as fun food. It seems these cakes are enjoying a bit of a resurgence these days. Pick a color, and the cake can be adapted to any seasonal occasion with just a few pokes. The color comes from Jell-O.
Occasionally, an ad slogan contains some truth. Jell-O really is one of “America’s favorite desserts.” Besides, Jell-O is used to make a myriad of salads, molds and various goodies. Who knew that the extracted collagen of cow and pig hooves, bones and hides (yes, it’s in Jell-O and gelatin) could contribute to make something as popular, useful and tasty as Jell-O?
During the Victorian age, only the privileged wealthy dined on desserts made from gelatin. Thomas Jefferson served gelatin desserts at his home in Monticello. Peter Cooper, the inventor of the first American-built steam engine, also patented “Portable Gelatin” – gelatin dessert powder. (Talk about American ingenuity.) His patent was sold. Fruit flavors and the name Jell-O were added. After another product sale, Jell-O was heavily marketed in the Ladies Home Journal as “America’s favorite dessert.” Jell-O spokesman and Philadelphia native Bill Cosby probably ate a lot of the jiggly stuff during his many years of endorsements. Jell-O is Utah’s official snack food.
Serve the following treats as a finale to your Fourth of July celebrations, and enjoy the unflagging devotion of the dessert devotees who devour them.
4TH of JULY JELLO CAKE
1 package white cake mix
1 package (3 oz.) Jell-O Cherry or Raspberry Gelatin
1 package (3 oz.) Jell-O Berry Blue Gelatin
2 cups boiling water (divided)
1 (12 oz.) container Cool Whip Non-Dairy Whipped Topping, Thawed
- Prepare cake mix according to direction on package, baking in 2 well-greased and floured 9-inch layer pans at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans 15 minutes. Poke cakes with fork at ½-inch intervals. Use a straw for wider veins of color. Do not remove cake from pans.
- Dissolve each package of gelatin separately in 1 cup boiling water. Pour dissolved cup of cherry or raspberry gelatin over one poked layer. Pour dissolved cup of berry blue gelatin over the other poked layer.
- Chill the cakes for 4 hours.
- Unmold one layer onto a serving plate. Top with 1 cup of the whipped topping.
- Unmold second layer onto first.
- Frost top and sides with remaining whipped topping. Chill.
- Garnish with the following: Jell-O Gummies and/or with blueberries and raspberries.
2 cups sugar, plus extra for coating the stars
1 1/3 cups applesauce
2 packages (3 ounces each) red Jell-O gelatin
2 envelopes Knox (unflavored) gelatin
1 tsp. lemon juice
Small star cookie cutter
-Spray a 9-inch x 13-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, combine sugar, applesauce, red gelatin, unflavored gelatin and lemon juice, and let stand for 1 minute.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute.
- Immediately pour mixture into prepared 9x13-inch pan.
- Refrigerate for 3 hours or until very firm.
- Loosen sides of gummy mixture from pan using a spatula. If necessary, use spatula to gently loosen underneath.
- Carefully turn over gummy mixture onto cutting board or waxed paper that has been dusted with sugar.
- Use star (or any small) cookie cutter to make shapes. (Or cut into long lengths and then into 1-inch squares.)
- Dip cutter in sugar and cut out stars. Rinse cutter in warm water, if it becomes too sticky.
- Place stars on separate waxed paper-lined sheet. Dry at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.
- Coat or roll stars in sugar.
- Store in airtight container.
Unlike cutout cookies, you cannot re-roll gummy scraps. However, these bits and pieces are equally tasty when rolled in sugar.
Have a Happy 4th of July!
Eat well, live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 3412 Progress Drive, Suite C, Bensalem, PA 19020)