This dessert dates back from the days when kids got to play around the back seat of the family station wagon sans seatbelts while their parents smoked in the front. It was probably served on teak buffet tables alongside little hors d’oeuvres of cheese whiz on Ritz crackers, and mini hot-dogs on toothpicks. After dessert, the kids probably got to play with things like dry cleaning bags and lead-based paint, as long as they didn’t disturb the adults having martini’s in the living room.
Some things, like the cocktail hot-dog, are best left in the past. But there is something deliciously satisfying about vintage desserts. Things made with ingredients that would horrify Martha Stewart. Desserts made and served in Tupperware molds. Recipes that included instant pudding, and a variety of Kraft products. Back when the word “vegan” hadn’t been invented yet, taste was what it was all about.
This is one of our family favourites. It actually doesn’t come from my dessert-free Italian past, where cake showed up on birthdays only. It was introduced to us by my friend, Sarah, who’s mother made it back in the day. The key ingredient here is raspberry jello, and trust me, even if you think you don’t need Jello anywhere in your life, you’ll love this dessert.
It’s quick to make, and as easy as pie. Just layer a few delicious things in a bowl, and chill. Plenty of time left for a quick cigarette and drink before making dinner.
I’d like to say I was all trendy-blogger-like, and updated the original recipe to serve it in cute mini mason jars. But really I did this so I could transport this dessert to my oldest girl, who I just visited at university. Besides being highly Pinterest-worthy, these cute little jars are very portable and I was able to surprise my 18-year-old with one of her favourite desserts. Major mom points. Always good to stock up on those.
This recipe is designed to be made and served in a large bowl like a trifle. In this case, I just divided the ingredients into the little jars instead. The recipe made 10 mini jars, with about ¼ cup of the graham mixture left over. If you want to make the mini-jar version instead of the single-large-bowl version, you might want to cut the graham crumbs back to 1 cup.
Tips and Tricks
To make the chocolate hearts for the top of the Raspberry Ribbon, just melt a little chocolate in a double boiler and put it into a zip lock snack bag. Cut the tip and squeeze some hearts onto a piece of wax paper. You can draw the hearts first on the bottom of the wax paper if you need a template. Just pipe a few on to the wax paper, and place into the fridge to harden. In a few minutes, you should easily be able to peel them off the paper. Pop onto your dessert and you’re done.
This recipe calls for 3 ounces of cream cheese. One normal block or container is about 8 ounces. A quick way to get your 3 ounces is to divide the cream cheese in half, and then divide each half again to get quarters, and then each quarter again to get 8 equal sections. Three of these 8 sections make up 3 ounces. Is this a little confusing? Here’s a photo that might help:
makes 1 regular sized dessert or 10 mini mason jar desserts
1 package raspberry Jello
1 ¼ cup boiling water
10 oz. frozen raspberries
¼ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups graham crumbs
¼ cup melted butter
Cream Cheese Filling:
3 oz cream cheese at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1. In a bowl, add boiling water and sugar to Jello and mix to dissolve. Add frozen raspberries, and allow to set a bit until thickened.
2. Combine ingredients for graham crust. Place in the bottom of a trifle bowl, or divide among 10 mini mason jars. Press down on mixture to create a crust. I used the bottom of a small glass to flatten the crust in the mini jars.
3. To make cream cheese filling, soften cream cheese in a mixer. Blend in sugar, vanilla, and salt. Fold in a small amount of the whipped cream, and then fold that mixture into the remainder of the whipped cream.
4. Take half of the cream cheese mixture and spread it over the graham crust in the trifle bowl, or divide up between the jars if you are using mini jars.
5. Top with half of the raspberry mixture. Follow with the remainder of the cream cheese, and then the final layer of raspberry mixture. (Note that in my case, I reversed the order of the cream cheese and raspberry mixtures. I don’t think it matters much – it just affects the colour of the top of your dessert.
6. Top with chocolate hearts, chocolate curls, or other decorations.
7. Chill in the refrigerator, and enjoy!