Don't Break the Mold

Gelatin and gelatin desserts can be fun. And when you see a recipe for a pretty molded treat, it's easy to think that will be simple to accomplish. And then you give it a whirl because gelatin is easy, right? And it all seems to go swimmingly until … you need to unmold the thing and you're scraping mounds of goop onto a plate and swearing at it.

Not that this has ever happened to me. (It has.)

But I do have some good suggestions for making fairly reliable gelatin molds and I'm sharing them this time around. And even those adorable little weird-shaped gelatin treats can be a success:

The "recipe" below is more about the process than anything else. You can use juice or soda or even some adult beverages in place of part or all of the water. The key is to avoid the cold liquid and to use what might seem like too much gelatin and coat those molds with cooking spray. Use canola oil spray to avoid much in the way of flavor or coloration in the final product, but that stuff can save you from so much cursing.

I also recommend letting the gelatin set up for a good bit of time before trying to unmold it. I like to soften the edges of the gelatin with a quick warm water bath and I really cannot say enough about the value of using silicone molds. I use them for baking, freezing popsicles and ice cream treats, and making fun gelatin molds. The ladybug above had more little bug and butterfly friends and being able to press the edges of the molds before releasing the gelatin is a great way to see if it's softened and will successfully release.

Is this a guaranteed successful procedure? Nope. I've just found that sometimes the purpose of gelatin molds is to help you get your swears out. But hey, this approach has cut down on those moments for me. I hope it's helpful for you, too.

Gelatin Molds

  • 4 (85 g) boxes gelatin
  • 2 1⁄2 cups boiling water (do not add cold water)
  • Cooking spray

In a medium bowl, stir the boiling water into the gelatin. Dissolve the gelatin completely.

Lightly spray your chosen mold(s) with cooking spray and pour the gelatin mixture into mold(s). This is important. If you skip this step, you will have trouble unmolding your gelatin. Chill for at least 3 hours, although they should be firm after 1 hour.

To unmold, dip the bottom of the mold(s) in warm water for 15 seconds to loosen the gelatin. Carefully flip the mold(s) and, if using silicone molds, gently press the edges to help the gelatin unmold.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: About 3 hours