Maya’s Delicious Jello Dessert

A proud Midwestern gal, I know the value of having a few good jello desserts in my repertoire and this is one of the best. I think Maya and I probably made this together the first time.

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup sugar, divided
6 Tbsp melted butter
12 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbsp milk
3 cups sweetened whipped cream or cool whip, divided
2 cups boiling water
1 large or two small packages jello (any flavor that works with the fruit)
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 cups fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces (Berries, peaches and pears work well or a combination of fruits. Strawberries are pretty traditional.)

Mix graham crackers, 1/4 cup sugar and butter and pat into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 375 for 7 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Beat cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and milk until smooth. Fold in whipped cream. Gently spread onto cooled crust.

Mix jello and boiling water, and stir well until the jello is completely dissolved. Add the 1 1/2 cups cold water and fruit and stir gently so you don’t break the fruit up too badly. Pour jello mixture onto cheese layer.

Cover the dish and refrigerate it for 2 hours. Just before serving spread 2 cups of whipped cream on top. If you have extra fruit, use it to garnish the top.

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Peach Crisp

Yum!  That’s all I have to say.

4-5 peaches, sliced or two can peach slices, drained
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal (I use the quick-cooking kind.)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter

Place peaches in a 9×9 baking dish. Mix everything else and drop onto peaches. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or whipped heavy cream sweetened with a bit of brown sugar.

Pear-Blueberry Variation:

3-4 very ripe unpeeled pears, cored and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

Substitute pears and blueberries for the peaches. If pears are very ripe, reduce brown sugar to 1 cup.

Pineapple Pudding Cake

If you’re crushing for a sweet treat, this cake is for you. It is a very semi-homemade type dessert (ie uses lots of packaged things) but is so good…

1 yellow cake mix, made according to directions and baked in a deep 9 x 13 pan
2 small packages instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups whole milk
1 can crushed pineapple
3/4 cup sugar
Sweetened, whipped cream or Cool Whip

Bake cake, and remove from oven.

While it’s baking, heat pineapple and sugar in a saucepan until sugar dissolves and mixture becomes syrupy. Pour over hot cake.

Make pudding with mixes and milk. Pour over pineapple, and smooth. Refrigerate for two hours. Before serving, top with whipped cream or Cool Whip. Ridiculously good.

You’ll want to be sure to use a deep pan so there’s plenty of room for the layers of pineapple, pudding and whipped cream on top.

Apple Pan Dowdy

Okay, so I found this recipe and had to make it because I have always loved the song “Shoe-Fly Pie” (and Apple Pan Dowdy, make your eyes light up, your tummy say howdy!)  Here’s a link to Dinah Shore singing it.

But it turns out that it’s really good, and even better with ice cream on top!

4 1/2 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples, placed in a 9 x 12 baking dish

1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup apple cider (or water)

Mix in a saucepan and cook for a few minutes until it’s thickened a bit. Remove from heat and add:

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter
Sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

Pour over apples.

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk

Blend dry ingredients, cut in butter until crumbly. Add milk and gently blend. Drop by the spoonful onto apples. Smooth it out a bit so it’s more evenly distributed.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Sunburst Peach Tart

This is such a pretty dish. I first served it at a National T.T.T. Society Holiday Tea at my house in 2002. Maya was about 3 and greeted each guest at the door with a curtsy. I have no idea why – but everyone loved it. She said she thinks

6 oz. butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
Juice of half a lemon
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
large can sliced peaches, drained
4 oz chopped pecans or hazelnuts

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add everything else, except nuts, folding gently. Pour into a large springform pan, and arrange peach slices in a sunburst pattern. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, and bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes. Serve with pouring custard. (With Strawberry Trifle recipe.)

Apple Cake

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened butter

Blend until very smooth.

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Blend together and add gently to butter sugar mix.

2 cups apples, peeled, cored and diced.

Add apples to rest and turn out into an 8×8 baking dish. Bake at 325 for 35 minutes.

Strawberry Trifle

Trifle, which is a dish somewhat unfamiliar to most Americans, is a dangerous, dangerous dessert.

It starts off all pretty and shiny in a clear glass trifle dish, with bits of cake and strawberries creating a lovely layered display and a rich yellow custard and white fluffy whipped cream on top.  Soon though, it’s served and forms a rather untidy, gloppy serving of sheer heaven.  You have it once and think, I don’t have a trifle problem. Me? No – I can take it or leave it.  But then you see some strawberries with whipped cream nearby and suddenly you can taste the custard and cake, too.  There’s no getting away from it.

I’ve made trifle for years and it’s one of the most often requested birthday “cakes” from my family.  My recipe is a little different, but it’s what we like and what I find easiest to make.  You can substitute different fruits or liqueurs, and it is still wonderful. The most delightful part is the Rich Custard, but if you really must you can substitute vanilla pudding. Just add a bit more vanilla extract.

Ingredients:

Angel Food Cake, cut into 1/2 thick slices
2 pints of fresh or frozen strawberries, halved and tumbled with 1/4 cup sugar for 15 minutes. (Or 1 large container of strawberries in syrup, thawed.)
Generous splash of brandy or sherry – say 2 Tbsp?  I’ve used Cognac in a pinch, too.
Whipped Cream, if home made, sweeten to taste  or just used prepared
Slivered almonds, toasted in an oven for a few minutes.
Rich Custard (recipe below)

In a large, clear glass bowl, line bottom and sides with angel food cake slices.

Mix the brandy and sugar with the strawberries, and place the strawberries on the sides and on the bottom of the dish. You want the strawberries to provide a pop of red color. Pour any remaining liquid evenly over the bottom.

Pour cooled rich custard over the cake and strawberries, and top with whipped cream and slivered almonds. Serve immediately. If you have to wait to serve, refrigerate it and just hold off on the whipped cream and almonds until right before serving.

Rich Custard:

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 cups whole milk
4 eggs, well beaten in a medium sized bowl
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla

Blend sugar, salt, cornstarch and whole milk in a large saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil stirring constantly. Once the custard reaches the boil, remove from heat and add 1 cup to the eggs in the bowl, stirring vigorously so the eggs don’t cook. Add another cup of milk mix to the eggs, and continue stirring.

Return the whole thing to the saucepan and put back on medium/low heat. Heat for 1-2 minutes until the custard is just starting to bubble a little. Don’t leave it for a second at this point or it will curdle. Remove from heat and add in vanilla. Let cool before adding to trifle dish.  It will thicken as it cools

This recipe also makes a lovely pouring custard. Just add another cup of milk. We don’t eat pouring custard much in the US, but it’s delicious dessert sauce. Just a bowl of fresh fruit with pouring custard poured over – it’s simple and wonderful.

Updated Variation:  Chocolate Raspberry Trifle

Make chocolate custard:  skip the Vanilla, add a generous 1/3 cup cocoa to the sugar and cornstarch, and pour in a little of the milk. Stir well until the cocoa is completely mixed in.  We didn’t increase the sugar and it tasted fine.

Use squares of unfrosted chocolate cake and fresh or frozen raspberries in place of the angel food and sweetened strawberries, and top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips.

For a party:

I’ve made Trifle for our office holiday parties – just use , nice clear wide plastic glasses and build the trifle in them. Just before serving add the whipped cream and almonds – it’s so easy and looks really pretty.