Where to start with this one? Where to start?
Actually, for eating Parfait Pie is not bad at all, but I was scratching my head over the name. I’d always thought that a parfait dessert is one that’s layered.
Wikipedia to the rescue! It turns out that the layered parfait is an American dessert. In France, a parfait (or “perfect”) is a sort of frozen custard. I’m going to be generous and assume that it’s the latter dessert that’s being alluded to in the name “Parfait Pie”.
So, with that settled, Parfait Pie is simply Jell-O (a three-ounce packet dissolved in 1.25 cup boiling water, not cooled with additional cold water) mixed with a pint of vanilla ice cream, set in a pie shell, and decorated with Dream Whip. I deviated a little from the recipe in using a chocolate cookie crumb crust instead of a plain pie shell, just because I thought it would make for a nicer pie. (It did.) I’ve been having kind of a rough time lately, and I need all the help I can get.
In case anyone wants to try to make this, I can definitely recommend using a small, round ice cream scoop and gradually adding the ice cream to the hot Jell-O liquid. The liquid will cool off quickly, making it harder to get the ice cream to melt, but the small scoops melt well with maybe a little mashing towards the end. The recipe says to put the still-liquid Jell-O and ice cream mixture into the pie crust, but I decided to thicken it over an ice-water bath so I could heap it into the pie plate if I needed to. As it turned out, it fit perfectly into a nine-inch pie plate with a crumb crust made with roughly three-quarters of a package of Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers and a quarter cup of melted butter. (If I were doing it again, I’d use more butter, but this sort of worked.) The pie filling took a while to thicken, and I was a little concerned about how firm it would be when it was set, but I’ve been able to get proper slices out of it – it’s firm, but only just.
The other mildly puzzling thing is that the recipe calls for a garnish done with one cup of Dream Whip. Dream Whip comes in packets that make up about two cups of whipped topping. That means you’re supposed to make a batch of Dream Whip and use half of it – and do what with the other half? I decided to just use the whole thing to garnish the pie, but found that I had (surprise, surprise) about half of the batch left over in my piping bag. I served the Parfait Pie with extra dollops of Dream Whip on the side. Bryan claims to prefer Dream Whip to Cool Whip, but I’m not sure that that means he actually likes it.
The recipe says to use either orange, strawberry or raspberry Jell-O. I let Bryan pick, and he chose raspberry. (I think I would have preferred strawberry, to be honest).
Orange was, of course, right out. Strictly speaking, I don’t need to do this since I’ve successfully avoided using orange Jell-O for this recipe, but I think that in honor of Presidents Day, I’m going to make donations to Planned Parenthood and the International Rescue Committee. This has been a weekend of “resisting” as well as making Jell-O. Yesterday Bryan and I “stood up for science” at a demonstration in Boston that was organized to coincide with the AAAS annual meeting. I’m kind of a “geek groupie”, and I make my living supporting science, so this was the place to be on Sunday.
Black Raspberry Ice Cream Dessert had a major strike against it at the outset – black raspberry flavored Jell-O no longer exists. There was none on the supermarket shelf, and when I looked it up on the Kraft Foods website, I discovered that it’s no longer among the available flavors. (I don’t remember this being a problem when I made it in 2009.) So the recipe is called Black Raspberry Ice Cream Dessert, but now it’s just Raspberry Ice Cream Dessert, which isn’t quite the same thing.
Since the required Jell-O flavor is unavailable, all bets were off with regard to the other ingredients: water, sherry, and vanilla ice cream. We don’t keep sherry around, because I’m not fond of fortified wines. That may be because of an experience I had early in my drinking career, when some well-meaning legal-drinking-age person bought me a bottle of tawny port, on which I got very drunk and subsequently very sick.
Still, I do like how alcohol can enhance the flavor of Jell-O, so I decided to substitute a less-sweet wine. I thought I’d try for a full-bodied red wine, since I was losing some depth of flavor with red raspberry Jell-O, and I had a little glimmer of inspiration from a pleasant memory of life in Brooklyn. Several blocks from us in Park Slope there was a café called the Chocolate Room that did wine pairings with desserts, and they had a nice raspberry wine that went well with chocolate cake. I thought if I could find a raspberry wine here, it might work well with this Jell-O dish, so I went to our local hipster liquor store*, only to be thwarted once again.
I had to turn to my miniscule wine stash, hoping I had a red that wasn’t “corked“, or vinegar. Luckily, I had a Beringer 2006 merlot that’s held up well, so I used that in the recipe instead of sherry. There was a brief moment of panic when I noticed that the raspberry Jell-O and merlot combination smelled rather like a household cleaner, but that aroma dissipated eventually.
If you’re a regular reader of NJoJ, you might have already guessed that this is an ice-cream-based bavarian, and all there is to it is preparing the Jell-O as directed, substituting a quarter-cup wine for a quarter-cup of cold water. A pint of vanilla ice cream (I went with an old favorite, Ben & Jerry’s) is gradually melted into the liquid gelatin, and it gets chilled until firm. That’s it – hence its inclusion in the chapter titled “Nice Easy Things to Do with Jell-O”.
I served my Raspberry Ice Cream Dessert with fresh blackberries, and it was okay. The wine flavor was a subtle and sneaky thing, and it didn’t blend well with the gelatin and ice cream flavors, but it wasn’t unpleasant. Otherwise, this was quite sweet. Also, the texture was very soft. I think this would be particularly good to have while recovering from dental surgery.
* Funny story: One time Bryan and I were at City Liquors when a bro came in and asked one of the store employees if they had “pong balls”. “You know, the balls you play beer pong with?” The employee was bemused by the question. They carry a good selection of wines and a large assortment of craft beers; it’s definitely not a “pong ball” kind of place.
Yay, me! I got another virgin recipe out of the way!
First, this begs the question: What the hell is a real peach Melba, anyway? I confess I had to look it up, and it’s as old-fashioned as it sounds. It was invented in the late 19th century by chef Escoffier to honor an Australian opera singer, and consists of peaches, raspberries, raspberry sauce, and vanilla ice cream. It turns out that the Jell-O version is true to the original, which is traditionally open to variation anyway.
I had a few tiny issues, but overall Jellied Peach Melba is easy-peasy to make. The main problem, if you want to call it that, is that there’s no longer a Bird’s Eye Quick Thaw line of frozen fruits, so I wound up getting the store brand frozen peaches (the only option), and some crunchy-granola-sounding brand of frozen raspberries. The bag of peaches was larger than what was called for in the recipe, but that turned out to be a good thing, because the recipe calls for a five-cup ring mold, and my ring mold is six cups. The extra peaches filled out the mold nicely.
Putting it together involved making a double batch of raspberry Jell-O, adding the frozen peaches and raspberries, and putting it in the ring mold to chill and set up overnight. The fabulous presentation includes scoops of vanilla ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s, natch) piled up in the middle of the Jell-O ring.
As it happens, I finished and tasted this after doing our income tax returns, an activity that’s guaranteed to tank my mood. In fact, TurboTax started me off by asking me how I felt about doing my taxes. I was feeling pretty good at the outset after having a productive morning. Two and a half hours and a good deal of shouting and swearing later, I was decidedly cranky. Bad news for the Jell-O result?
Full credit to Kraft Foods and Jell-O, preparing and eating Jellied Peach Melba actually cheered me up quite a bit. The mold turned out without a hitch, and scooping out balls of ice cream is almost always a delight. For eating, this one isn’t bad at all. Cream almost always improves Jell-O, and the mold had enough fruit in it that it wasn’t like eating a dish full of jelly (for which one really needs to be in the right mood, or sick, or recovering from dental surgery).
I wish the fruit had been better. The peaches had a peach-like texture and weren’t mushy or slimy, but they had very little flavor. The raspberries just tasted wrong, but maybe that was because of the contrast with the artificial flavor of the Jell-O. I rarely find frozen fruit that’s satisfactory – most are good enough for protein smoothies, maybe, but few can stand on their own in a dessert.
Still, all things considered, not a bad one at all. I may even eat some of the leftovers before the Jell-O starts shrinking in the fridge.
And yes, we ate the whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s during the “tasting”. You pretty much have to polish off all the ice cream after this dessert is served – another point in its favor.
I’m enjoying this while I can, because the next one up is one of the scary savory ones, involving a video and a donation to Action Against Hunger. I have some new ideas for the videos, so I’m actually looking forward to tackling it. Look for that in a couple of weeks…