Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Guide Day 23 of 26: Champagne Jello

The first time I had a jello shot was actually at a Christmas party in elementary school.  

My childhood best friend Laura (whose mom is Tweet of this post) had a grandmother named Mayme, who lived in a lovely and stately old home in Richmond.  Each year on Christmas night, Mayme would throw a huge bash, filling her house with friends, miles of food and a rousing pianist (Mayme being quite the accomplished pianist herself), who would take requests and lead impromptu singalongs.  

Aside from the occasional sprint downstairs for cookies and meatballs, we kids played upstairs in a warren of bedrooms, trying on old hats and stirring up general holiday mischief.  We were given free reign of everything but the jello - each party featured two huge silver punch bowls of jello, one red and one green, both of which were verboten to us kids.

One year we got bold and staged a jello raid, two of us keeping a lookout while the other two scooped jiggly mounds of jello into little cups. We split up the red and green jello according to which better matched our velvet Christmas dresses.  The thrill of the theft was more exciting than the jello itself, which did little save for turning our tongues dark red and green and, of course, producing endless bouts of conspiratorial laughter.

I was thinking it would be fun to revisit Mayme's holiday tradition with an updated and sparkling version, so I whipped up some champagne jello in her memory.  I wasn't aiming for a super boozy version here, so I simply mixed sparkling rosé with ginger ale (knowing that champagne alone wouldn't produce the sweetness people expect from jello).  If you're looking for a knee-walking version (did I just say 'knee-walking'? I need to swear off of Shag for a while), I would suggest replacing some of the champagne and ginger ale with vodka.  

The ingredients and process are both very straightforward, and the jello keeps well enough that these can be made in advance.  

What You'll Need:

- 10 ounces sparkling rosé or prosecco (or 6 ounces rosé and 4 ounces vodka)
- 5 ounces ginger ale 
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 envelopes Knox plain gelatin
- party picks (I made mine by wrapping toothpicks with fringed tissue paper leftover from this diy project)

What You'll Do:

- Place the sugar and the 10 ounces of champagne (or champagne and vodka) in a sauce pan and sprinkle the gelatin packets on top.  Let the gelatin soften for 2-3 minutes.

- Once the gelatin has softened, simmer the pot over low heat, stirring until the gelatin has dissolved, about 2-3 minutes (be careful not to overcook or the gelatin will start to cluster)

- Remove from the heat and add the 5 ounces of ginger ale

- Pour jello into a shallow pan (I used a square ceramic baking dish, but a loaf pan, tupperware or even ice cube tray would also work) and chill for a minimum of an hour.

- Release the jello from the mold.  This may take a little finessing.  This time mine slid right out after gently separating each side from the mold, but if yours is more stubborn, you can dip the bottom of your pan in warm water. Use a knife to cut squares or shapes.

- Sprinkle with sparkling sugar (optional) and serve with party picks.

Ps - doesn't the fringe wall look so fun?

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