I have a soft spot for Jello shots. Maybe it’s just my nostalgia for college, I’m not sure, there’s just something so fun about them. But while I have fond memories of “shooting” lime Jello mixed with copious amounts of Jose Cuervo, I like to think that as an adult I’ve upgraded to classier versions of alcohol and gelatin.
About 8 years ago, I made a gin and tonic jelly that I had seen in Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. I was completely smitten with it — it was a beautiful color, absolutely delicious and (dare I say?) even elegant.
And last year for my birthday I did triple layer Jello shots, putting in as much booze as possible while still allowing for the mixture to set. Yes, there is a science to this.
So when the girls in my office decided to throw a surprise baby shower for another co-worker, I asked if I could bring Jello shots. I think a few people thought this was a little weird (on several levels I’m sure) but my idea of a good party means there should be alcohol somewhere. If we weren’t going to be drinking wine, we should at least have boozy Jello. (In the end we drank wine too, because it was a Friday and we do what we want.)
I figured vodka would be a bit much for the mother-to-be, but since every pregnant lady I’ve known has still enjoyed a glass or two of bubbly while waiting for her due date, it seemed that sparkling wine would be perfect for the occasion. I pondered a few possible cocktail options (mimosas? Kir royals?) before settling on the classic combination of the Bellini — bubbles mixed with peach puree.
Because I am a bit obsessive, I did some online research and finally selected two different recipes to test out the weekend before the party. The first recipe was very simple — peach flavored Jello, water and bubbly. The second was only a touch more complex, calling for unflavored gelatin, sugar, fruity soda, water and sparkling wine.
Each had their ups and downs but neither was exactly what I wanted. The first was definitely peachy but in an artificial way. The second didn’t have enough oomph in the flavor department but I liked the fact that it wasn’t a sugar bomb. In the end, I combined the best of both recipes and the result was fantastic.
I’m also really happy I tried out the recipes beforehand because I saved myself some sadness on the final batch. Because I have a decent amount of experience cooking, I occasionally get cocky about following recipes and every now and again it bites me in the butt. This was one of those times. Both of the original recipes mentioned letting the mixture chill for at least 30 minutes or until almost set before pouring it into the shot glasses. But neither recipe said why this was important.
I just poured mine immediately and let them set. One of my experiments was trying to do a layered look in a Champagne flute. I poured the first layer, topped it with strawberries and let it set. Then I poured in the second layer.
This was when the light bulb went off.
The reason for waiting is to allow the Jello to set so that when you pour it into your shot glasses, wine glasses, whatever, it’s thick enough to create air pockets. These air pockets (NOT the carbonation from the soda or wine) is what gives the Jello the stream of bubbles making it look like a glass of sparkling wine. Without this effect, they will just look like regular old Jello shots.
Because they were for a special occasion I dressed up the typical 1 oz portion cup by heading to one of my favorite stores ever, Party City. There I found these awesome square appetizer cups and mini silver spoons that made the presentation fabulously festive.
The peach flavor was prominent but didn’t suffer from tasting fake. The sparkling wine definitely came through and the peach soda added extra effervescence. My co-workers also liked the fact that they weren’t overly sweet — wine aside, this is a Jello shot suited to an adult palate.
After a week of practice, recipe testing and taste trials, the Bellini Jellies that I brought to the party were exactly what I envisioned. However, as pleased as I was by them, I don’t want to eat Jello (even boozy Jello) for at least a year!
Sparkling Bellini Jello Shots
Recipe makes about 25-35 shots
- 2 tablespoons (2 envelopes) unflavored gelatin powder
- 2 1/2 cups cold water (separated)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 oz peach flavored Jello mix (I used a scale to be precise but you could eyeball it)
- 2-1/2 cups cold sparkling wine
- 1-1/2 cups cold sparking peach soda
1. In a small saucepan, sprinkle the unflavored gelatin evenly over 2 cups of cold water and allow it to absorb the water for 2 minutes. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and whisk until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Remove from the heat.
2. Pour the gelatin mixture into a large bowl, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Set bowl aside.
3. In the same small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Add 2 oz of flavored gelatin mix. Whisk until dissolved.
4. Add to bowl and mix thoroughly.
5. Chill mixture for 15 minutes. Add sparkling wine and soda. Return to fridge and chill until gelatin starts to form together. If you want, pour a bit in to a clear glass to see if air bubbles form. This is important because it gives the apperance of a stream of bubbles. If it’s not quite there, keep chilling, just be careful not to let it set all the way.
6. Once it’s ready to pour, fill up shot glasses or champagne flutes. Chill until set or overnight.
Extra Credit — Jello foam: If you want to do the Jello foam, reserve about 3/4 cup of mixture and allow to set. Before serving put Jello in a food processor until it turns frothy. If you like, add more sparkling wine or peach soda to it to thin it out a bit. Top each glass with foam and serve.
Just for fun, here are some of my recipe testing shots!