What if you turned up at a luxury afternoon tea to find something like these mini jello berry “parfaits” being served up in a small shot glass to start off your tea? As a version of an amuse bouche to whet your appetite?
I love the luxury teas I’ve had where they’ve started off with some small, inventive bite of food that I wasn’t expecting, before the tea courses get going. And to have one that has such an enticing, refreshing, berries-and-cream bite seems especially inviting.
The idea for this came from some old church recipe books I was browsing through that were my mother’s…and I mean old, like from the 1960s! Not to get off track, but what a kick it is to look through the older cookbooks and see what was trending at the time, what ingredients did they use that are maybe no longer so common, and to see the creative names of some of the recipes. Makes me want to try some for that reason alone!
Back when I was growing up, things like church potluck suppers were the thing. I have lots of memories of the church getting together, the ladies all bringing various dishes, running in and out of the church kitchen area where, if they weren’t pulling together or collecting recipes, they were getting the big coffee percolators loaded up for when it was time for dessert. And the long set of tables pushed together with dish after dish loaded up for people to go by and both sides and serve themselves.
And of course, things like jello salads were very popular and quite common at these potluck suppers. Full disclosure, I searched around the internet for something more current that was layered, and started with this one from Meghan Splawn at Kitchn website. I followed it fairly closely, though substituted sweetened condensed milk for whipping cream in the “cream” layer.
The original recipe calls for a 10-cup Bundt or jello mold; rather than that, I ended up with several small jello shots, and two small jello molds. So I didn’t measure out exactly how many small jello shots it will make, but I suspect it’s a few dozen! depending on the size of your shot glasses.
So, start with some luscious red berries so you get a jello layer that is chock-full of lovely fruit. I found strawberries, raspberries, and they’ve just started getting cherries in, so threw a few of them in for good measure.
This recipe calls for the boxed, powdered gelatin (Knox, in the US), and uses 5 small envelopes of the Knox variety, but then this fills a decent sized jello mold, if you’re going for one large one, or two small, or many small shots!
This recipe has you “blooming” the powdered gelatin in 1 cup of the liquid (all cranberry juice in this one, no flavored gelatin at all). Then, after you’ve heated another 4 cups of the cranberry juice separately with sugar to get the sugar to dissolve, this bloomed cup of gelatin mixture will melt up easily when you whisk it in the rest of the heated juice. You keep back 3 cups of cranberry juice to mix with the whipped cream for the creamy layer.
You’ll cool the main jello portion for a good 30 minutes before you pour it into your molds and add the fruit. It’ll also have to cool off in the fridge for a good couple of hours before you add the second, creamy layer on the top.
All pretty straightforward, just takes time to let things cool so the molds are ready for the next layer.
After you’ve added the creamy layer, it’s good to let it just cool completely overnight before serving. So you can easily make this a day ahead, and simply bring it out the next day for your tea guests.
Jello Berry Shots
- Cooking spray (if you are using a jello mold; no need to spray the shot glasses)
- 2 c. mixed red fruit, i.e., berries, cherries or cranberries
- 5 (1/4-oz.) envelopes unflavored powdered gelatin (like Knox brand in the US)
- 7 c. cranberry juice cocktail (it will be divided between both layers)
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 1 c. whipped cream (or Cool Whip in the US); if you use whipped cream, add a 1/4 c. granulated sugar to sweeten it slightly (this is in addition to the 1 c. of sugar above)
DirectionsIf using jello mold(s), prepare by coating with cooking spray, and wiping with a paper towel so there is no excess spray and the pan is well-coated. If using shot glasses, just make sure they are cleaned and ready to be filled.
Rinse and dry the fruit; cut strawberries into quarters, stem and pit cherries, leave raspberries whole. Refrigerate until you’re ready to add the fruit.
Bloom the gelatin by adding it to 1 cup of the cranberry juice in a medium bowl and whisk to combine and make sure the gelatin is completely dissolved. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the mixture.
Heat the remaining 6 cups of cranberry juice and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved and it barely comes to a simmer. Remove the cranberry mixture from the heat, add the bloomed gelatin mixture and whisk until the gelatin is fully dissolved.
Now divide the cranberry mixture, measuring off 3 cups of the mixture into another bowl to eventually use to make the creamy layer. Pour the remaining 4 cups into a large bowl. Place this bowl of cranberry-gelatin mixture over an ice bath (set it in a larger bowl filled with ice). Cool the mixture, stirring regularly, until quite thick and it has a hair gel-like texture to ensure the fruit doesn’t float when added, at least 30 minutes. Once thickened, you can carefully fold in the fruit. Alternately, you can pour the gelatin in your mold/shot glasses, then add the fruit.
Refrigerate the fruit layer until well set, about 2 hours.
Then make the creamy layer. Take a cup of whipping cream and whip it until soft peaks, adding about 1/4 c. sugar to the whipped cream, or to taste. Add this to the remaining 3 cups of gelatin mixture and whisk it to combine. Cool at room temperature until the fruit-filled gelatin sets.
One the fruit layer is set, carefully pour the creamy gelatin mixture into the prepared mold/glasses and fill to the top. Very carefully return to the fridge and cool for another 4 hours, or overnight.
To serve the shot glasses version, simply take out of the fridge, and serve with your favorite platter and small spoons. To remove from a gelatin mold, carefully invert the mold onto a serving plate and let the mold fall gently from the mold onto the plate; might take a couple of minutes. If it does not come out, fill the sink or large, wide pot with warm tap water and dip the outside of the mold in the water for 10 seconds. Remove from the water, dry the outside of the mold and flip out onto a serving plate. Cut into slices and serve.
I love the black-and-white look for this tea table, accented by a splash of red to match the vibrant red of these jello berry shots. Add small spoons that will fit inside your shot glass! I found mine at some point at Sur la Table kitchen store in Houston.
Any number of varieties of flavors and fruits could be used for this kind of afternoon tea starter. Hope this gives you some ideas!