Jell-O salads take courage.
I don’t know if Jell-O salad is a Midwest thing or a retro thing and I certainly don’t know how Jell-O to be referred to as a salad.
I’m really ok with Jell-O shots and just ok with Jell-O salad. I’ll eat it if it’s around, but don’t seek it out. That is, unless it’s one of the recipes I found my Grandmother had submitted to her old church cookbook
Jane Hill’s Apricot Salad was the next step in my journey to learn about my grandmother through her recipes. My previous adventure preparing Ship Wreck, the casserole my mom hated, left my husband begging me not to make another casserole yet, so I tried one of the sweet recipes she submitted.
The recipe is vaguely written and the part instructing me to add a pint of vanilla ice cream to congealed and whipped Jell-O left me scared and confused. I allowed the ice cream to thaw until it was soft before I mixed it in. I’m not sure if that’s what I was supposed to do, but it seemed to work.
I’m also surprised I could even still find apricot jello.
Yup, they still make this.
Here are the canned apricots and mandarin oranges.
After I mixed the congealed jello and fruit with the softened ice cream, I poured it into a pan to set up further in the fridge.
Then, I prepared the topping by mixing a can of crushed pineapple with a box of cream cheese. I like pineapple and I like cream cheese so I figured I’d enjoy them mixed together. Wrong. They seem like innocuous ingredients but when I mixed them together, the emanating smell made me gag. I also didn’t like what I tasted, so I kept it in a separate bowl to serve on the side.
I want to honor my grandparents’ recipes by preparing them exactly as written, but I also don’t want to waste food. Sometimes practicality must rule over authenticity.
Finally, I toasted some walnuts to sprinkle over the top. Here’s the final assembly:
All in all, the Jell-O turned out better than I expected, minus the cream cheese topping. Jake and I were surprised by how much we liked the jello-fruit-ice cream component of the dish. Apricot jello has pleasant, fruity and floral flavors. This layer doesn’t fully set up and remains soft like a pudding and may have benefited from the fact that I used a high quality ice cream.
Jake skipped right over the cream cheese and pineapple topping by substituting a dollop of whipped cream. I added a spoonful of the topping but removed it after one bite. I just can’t.
Like the Ship Wreck, I can’t see myself preparing this recipe again, but it felt exciting (and a little scary) to try walking in my grandmother’s footsteps for a moment, even if it did involve combining apricot jello and cream cheese.