To create a multi-layered gelatin salad, first make sure you have enough pans and refrigerator space, as each layer will need its own pan for the initial chilling phase.
- The gelatin should be the consistency of cold egg whites. If the base layers get too firm before adding additional flavors, the layers may slip apart once you unmold the salad.
- For a "broken glass" style of dessert, in which gelatin cubes are suspended in yet another flavor of gelatin with a creamy base, you must let the cubed gelatin set up completely before combining them with the "binding" flavor.
- The secret to separate layers of gelatin: let each color get semi-firm before attempting to combine them.
Creamy, Dreamy Salads
You can add whipped cream, whipped topping, softened cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese and even mayonnaise to gelatin salads.
Before folding in cream or cheese, prepare the gelatin as usual and chill it slightly. Next, beat in your additions until the mixture is smooth and evenly colored.
To make your gelatin light and fluffy without any additions, just whip in air with an electric mixer. Make the gelatin according to the package directions and allow it to set up until very thick, but not completely firm. Whip on medium-high speed until about double in volume. Chill again before serving.
Fruits and Nuts
Mixing in chopped fruit, nuts, or marshmallows adds texture, flavor, and visual appeal.
Allow the gelatin to set until it is semi-firm ("egg white" consistency) before pushing in the fruit pieces. By allowing the gelatin to set, the fruit will stay right where you put it instead of sinking to the bottom.
Read the box: some fruits have naturally occurring enzymes that will break down the gelatin's structure and prevent it from setting. Avoid fresh pineapple, kiwi, figs, ginger, papaya, guava, and mangoes.
Canned fruits are perfectly fine--such as canned pineapple--and cooking the fruit will also break down the enzymes.
Rings and Molds
To add a fancy touch, pour it into a Bundt cake pan, a baking dish or a special mold.
- VIDEO: Rainbow Salad Jell-O® Mold
- Metal molds will allow quicker set-up than plastic ones.
- If you're making a large gelatin mold, use about ¼ cup less liquid for each three-ounce box of flavored gelatin you use. This will allow the gelatin to retain its shape once you unmold it.
- Before pouring gelatin into a mold, try spritzing the mold lightly with cooking spray to make sure the gelatin slips out easily. Wipe out excess with a paper towel.
- Make sure the gelatin is totally firm before unmolding: the top should feel dry, not sticky, and the gelatin shouldn't move toward the side when you tip the mold.
- Moisten a serving platter with a damp paper towel. This will allow the salad to slide around a little so you can center it perfectly on the plate.
- Dunk the mold in warm water for about 10 seconds. (Make sure that the water is just warm, not hot, or the gelatin will melt!)
- Loosen the edges with a table knife to break the vacuum. Invert the plate over the top of the mold and carefully flip it over. Gently lift off the mold.