Ah, the Jell-o mold! So weird looking, so full of weird ingredients! Jell-o molds have always intrigued me, but many of them have ingredients I'd prefer to avoid. I found a recipe for Under the Sea Jell-o on the Joys of Jell-o blog, which thankfully does NOT feature fish or anything ocean based. It has lime jell-o on top with a creamy layer underneath, full of pears. I made it a few months ago and enjoyed it, but my husband didn't like the pears and thought the creamy part needed to be sweeter, so I experimented and made an orange version that was a big hit. Usually I don't like orange Jell-o (lifelong aversion to certain orange flavors, thanks to a medicine I had to take as a small child!), but this one is really good. I made it for Thanksgiving and it was a great addition.
I've listed the cinnamon as optional. The original has ginger mixed in with the pears, but I thought cinnamon would go better with oranges. My husband and in-laws all really liked the cinnamon, and I did, too, but could see it not appealing to some people. Don't worry about the little cinnamon clumps in my photo. I made the mistake of mixing the cinnamon in with the oranges, and that didn't go so well. In the directions below, I have you mix the cinnamon in with the actual Jell-o powder, so it should dissolve better. When you whisk the Jell-o with the cream cheese, it should end up being very well dispersed.
Creamy Orange Jell-o Mold
6 oz package orange Jell-o powder
3 oz package orange Jell-o Powder2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
2 15 oz cans mandarin oranges, with juice
12 oz cream cheese
Grease a 2 quart Jell-o mold with a little canola oil on a paper towel (I used a bundt pan) and set aside.
Bring 2 C water to boil, then mix with the large packet of Jell-o until smooth. Pour juice from canned oranges into a measuring cup and add water to make 1 1/2 C liquid. Add 2 Tbsp of the lemon juice. Stir into the hot Jell-o. Measure out 2 1/2 C of the Jell-o mixture and pour into the greased Jell-o mold and set the rest aside. Refrigerate until set but not firm, about 45 minutes.
Immediately after placing the mold in the fridge, bring 1 C water to a boil and stir in the small packet of orange Jell-o and cinnamon (if using) until completely dissolved. Stir in remaining 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice. Add this to the reserved Jell-o mixture and let sit on the counter.
Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds or so, then whisk smooth. Whisk in the reserved Jell-o mixture 3 Tbsp at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Stir in drained mandarin oranges. Spoon gently over set Jell-o in refrigerator. Let set over night.
When you're ready to serve the Jell-o, simply place a plate over the top of the mold and quickly flip the two over so the plate is on the bottom. If the Jell-o doesn't release, dip the mold into hot water for 5-10 seconds, dry it off, and try again. Don't let it sit in the hot water too long, or you'll have a real mess on your hands when you unmold it!
Yield: 10 servings