American Pie
November 24, 2008 11:46 AM   Subscribe

How should we class up a patriotic Jello pie?

So, my friend linked me to the aforementioned pie, and we were thinking of making it for Thanksgiving dinner, both for novelty's sake, and because one has to go a little bit over the top when one is having an American Thanksgiving dinner in Canada.

However, we were wondering if there'd be a way to make it out of, you know, real foods while preserving the colour scheme and stratified nature. Something blueberry and strawberry based is the obvious choice, but how to make it structurally sound such that the stripes remain distinct? Any notions or advice are welcome.
posted by ITheCosmos to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What about compromising, and mixing plenty of blueberries into the blue layer of Jell-o and strawberries into the red layer?
posted by amro at 12:03 PM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Here's a recipe for "jello" made from real fruit juice or puree which is probably a good place to start. I'd probably use a mixture of pureed, frozen raspberries (with the seeds strained out) and apple juice for the red layer and pureed, strained blueberries and blackberries in pomegranate juice for the blue. At this time of year, frozen fruit is a better bet than fresh, I'd wager. Be sure to add enough sugar or honey to make each layer sweet enough. For the creamy layer, maybe a mixture of cream cheese and sour cream or creme fraiche, sweetened with maybe some chopped candied ginger. Sound yummy, actually.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:08 PM on November 24, 2008

Well, I came in here to tell you that, when we had an all Jell-o cook off the items that the judges liked the best either had lots of liquor, lots of embedded plastic toys, or lots of meat suspended in them. But your more inside leads me to believe that you are looking for a more sincere kind of class. Oh well.

So, yeah, I'd say Amro has the idea. I'd make tinctures of real berries and mix it with Knox unflavored gelatin for the classier version of that pie.

(At the cook-off, MeFi user Lumpenprole had a "9/11-never forget" memorial Jell-o loaf with candles, flags, and red white and blue layers that was a realshowstopper, as I recollect. So you could go that route, too.)
posted by dirtdirt at 12:09 PM on November 24, 2008

How about making it a cream cheese dessert...

Mix cream cheese and sugar...a bunch of it. Add a little vanilla.

Take a 3rd of the cream cheese mixture and whip in a can of blueberry preserves/filling.

Take another 3rd of the cream cheese and whip in a can of cherry pie filling.

Leave the remaining third alone.

Layer in a graham cracker crust to approximate the jello pie.
posted by ian1977 at 12:09 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

oops...i mean strawberries not cherries.
posted by ian1977 at 12:10 PM on November 24, 2008

Some mixture of frozen blueberries / frozen strawberries or raspberries, unflavored gelatin, and sweetened condensed milk or egg whites and sugar, whipped into a mousse and layered in the pie crust (or forget the pie crust and layer in a glass, or if you want to get really fancy layer in a cylindrical mold and glaze, then unmold . . .)

Look for fruit mousse recipes and adapt . . .

This should be pretty easy to do.
posted by agent99 at 12:18 PM on November 24, 2008

If you're not specifically wed to a pie as your delivery system, what you're effectively making is a trifle. Use real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip, and layer it between fruit gelatin. A sponge cake base would be good, esp. if you add a little rum.

I know, I know, it doesn't have the kitschy charm of jello pie, but if you do it in a big glass container it's actually prettier.
posted by mkultra at 12:33 PM on November 24, 2008

Nthing everybody else... the key is to make it out of real ingredients instead of fake plastic processed artificial colored stuff (aka jello and cool whip)

Knox unflavored gelatin is really simple to use and there are instructions on the package for making your own "jello" flavors with real fruit and fruit juices
---the red layer could be CRANBERRY, seeing as it is thanksgiving. bright USA blue is difficult to approximate, but blueberry seems plausible. frankly, a little food coloring might be in order, contrary to my statements above.

I also suggest creme fraiche for the middle layer, very classy and very simple to make at for a recipe. basically you let cream go a little sour, theres some more to it, but not much. you could mix creme fraiche, sugar, little vanilla, or even some lemon zest!! know gelatin can be used to stabilize this layer as well, if necessary.

and, finally, make your own graham cracker crust and you could even mix in some finely ground nuts for additional classy flavor.
posted by dahliachewswell at 1:20 PM on November 24, 2008

The white layer should definitely be, or involve, sour cream. I honestly expected I'd be the first person in the thread to suggest it, but I'm glad to see that the gospel has spread.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:50 PM on November 24, 2008

If you'd like to avoid gelatin entirely, you could make blueberry pie filling, maybe with a touch extra corn starch (or tapioca starch), then use meringue as your second layer. Cook that just enough to really set the meringue, then add your strawberry filling (also with plenty of starch).

For a firmer (ahem) theoretical foundation for all this -- you could probably figure out how much, if at all, to cook the shell + blueberry filling before adding the meringue -- I recommend consulting the fruit pie exposition text in "The Best Recipe" cookbook. Which is awesome in many ways.
posted by amtho at 3:08 PM on November 24, 2008

How about ice cream instead? I just made a layered blueberry-cream cheese ice cream pie (self-link) that turned out awesome, in my not-so-humble opinion. You can buy a premade graham cracker crust, and use storebought ice creams. Two options with that: buy 3 ice creams (blue, white, and pink/red), or buy one big vat of vanilla and add pureed blueberries and strawberries to portions of it to turn it different colors. Allow the ice cream to soften a bit, so that it's spreadable but not liquidy. Mix in berries, if desired. Smooth it into even layers and freeze again until hard. Top with whipped cream and fresh berries. Gorgeous, delicious dessert that doesn't involve gross gelatin product!
posted by Bella Sebastian at 7:10 PM on November 24, 2008

Should have previewed: I don't recommend putting meringue in between two fruit fillings. It won't hold up and will turn into a soggy mess in no time. You could make a homemade marshmallow layer (which is basically meringue + gelatin) if you wanted that really light, fluffy egg white dealie.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 7:12 PM on November 24, 2008

Multilayered cheesecake.

Because then you have cheesecake.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:41 AM on November 25, 2008

Response by poster: All of these answers were awesome. We ended up making a three-layer cheesecake with a graham-cracker crust. We used this no-bake cheesecake recipe, and split it into three equal parts. One we left plain. For the blue, we added a strained puree of blueberries and blackberries. For the red, we added raspberry freezer jam. It pretty much came out pink, white, and purple, instead of red, white and blue, but nobody complained, and it was delicious. I made a star on top out of the extra blueberries. Thanks all.
posted by ITheCosmos at 8:08 PM on December 7, 2008

Cheesecake? I WIN!

In the future, beet juice would provide a much more striking red (and impart an interestingly earthy flavour to ground the sweetness of the raspberries), and unfortunately there's pretty much no food that is actually blue in nature (maybe blue corn, but I doubt that would work as a colourant) that would work. Most of what we consider 'blue' in food is purple--viz your experience with 'blue'berries. The berries are visually bluish but the juice is purple. 'Blue' potatoes are also much more purple than blue.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:41 PM on December 7, 2008

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