Ditch the box, and make homemade jello style gelatin at home. So easy, with only a few ingredients—and it’s actually good for you.
Making this easy homemade “JELLO” gelatin really requires just two ingredients: juice + gelatin. But, as with most intriguing things in life, the closer I looked, the more deliciously complicated it all became.
I’m boiling it all down for you here into just the facts. If you don’t really want to know much more and just want to get to the recipe, feel free to scroll down to the bottom for the video and the recipe. But don’t you want to know at least a little bit more?
Adding fresh fruit to homemade jello
At the very least, you’ll want to know the best way to put some fresh fruit in there and make sure it doesn’t sink to the bottom. Just let the gelatin chill for about 45 minutes in the refrigerator until it’s beginning to set. Press a few slices of your favorite fruit into the mixture, then finish chilling until it’s completely set.
When it’s summertime and fresh berries are affordable and at their peak, those are the flavors of homemade jello that I’m most likely to make. Strawberry tops the list for me.
But when you’re adding whole fruit to the gelatin, avoid chunks of pineapple, kiwi, mango, papaya or mango. When it’s fresh, those types of fruit can make it difficult for the gelatin to set up properly. (Here’s why.)
How pretty are these pineapple and blueberry “JELLO” flavors? No additives, no chemicals, no food dyes. Just food, glorious food.
I do always have different types of fruit, both fresh and frozen at home. So I complicated things a bit by testing fruit purees in place of juice. I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that you most certainly can make homemade “JELLO” gelatin with fruit purees. The bad news? You must mix the puree with at least as much actual fruit juice or the “JELLO” simply won’t set up.
So even though this is really so simple as to almost not even qualify as a “recipe,” there were enough tips and tricks that I picked up along the way that I thought it was worthy of its own post.
Gelatin is actually quite healthy for you. So I’m often looking for ways to get some of it into my children without opening up a box of overly sugary JELLO.
If you’re looking to make this vegan, maybe try agar agar powder in place of the gelatin? I’ve been experimenting with making vegan cheese (!), so I’m becoming more and more familiar with vegan magic ingredients. But just enough to make me dangerous, so far.
Now click play ▶️ and watch me make some strawberry homemade JELLO style gelatin!
Prep time:Cook time:Yield:4 servings gelatin (can be doubled, tripled or even halved easily)
2 cups (16 fluid ounces) fruit juice or combination fruit puree and juice*
1 tablespoon (8 g) unflavored powdered gelatin**
2- 3 tablespoons (42 to 63 g) honey (can replace with 3 to 5 tablespoons (38 g to 63 g) granulated sugar), to taste
*I have tested this recipe with many different combinations of fruit juice and pureed fruit, and have found that, if you use more than 50% fruit puree, the gelatin will not set properly. See the instructions for how to make a fruit puree for use in this recipe.
**I use Great Lakes brand unflavored grass-fed gelatin because, well, I like it a lot and can buy it in large quantities for a good price. I try to sneak as much of it into my children’s diet as possible because of its health benefits. But, of course, any unflavored powdered gelatin will work just fine. 1 packet of Knox gelatin is approximately 8 grams.
Select 4 single-serving heat-safe dishes to hold the JELLO as it sets, and set them aside.
To make a fruit puree for use in this recipe, soften the fruit by placing it in a heavy-bottom saucepan and adding just enough water to cover it. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and cook until the fruit can be easily smashed by pressing it against the side of the pan. For berries, this should only take a couple minutes after boiling. For more fibrous fruits like apples, peel, core and roughly chop the apples before cooking. It will take longer for the fruit to be tender enough. Once the fruit is ready, remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool for a few minutes before transferring the entire contents of the pan to a blender and puree until smooth. Pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove any solids or seeds. Use only 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) of fruit puree per recipe.
Some notes about fruit juices:
I prefer to use only 100% juice so I can control the amount of added sugar.
Apple juice is a nice, relatively neutral juice to add to berry purees. When I made the blueberry JELLO you see above, I used 1 cup of apple juice along with the 1 cup of fruit puree.
Pineapple juice makes for a surprisingly lovely gelatin flavor.
You can actually use water in place of juice for an unflavored gelatin, but you’ll need to add considerably more sugar to make the JELLO palatable.
In a small bowl, place about 1/4 cup of the fruit juice and sprinkle with the powdered gelatin. Mix thoroughly and allow to sit until the gelatin swells in the liquid. Place the remaining 3/4 cup fruit juice, plus any fruit puree (or more juice) to make 2 full cups in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Add the swelled gelatin and honey (or sugar) to the hot saucepan and mix until the gelatin and honey/sugar dissolve.
Divide the mixture immediately among the serving dishes, and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover the dishes and place in the refrigerator to chill until set (about 3 hours). If you’re feeling particularly generous, serve with whipped cream.
Originally published on the blog in 2015. Some photos, video and some text new.
Incredibly fudgy, rich chocolate black bean cookies have absolutely no flour of any kind. They’ll never about the beans if you don’t tell them!
If you had told me a couple of years ago that I’d be baking with black beans, I’d almost certainly be rolling my eyes at you. I have been on a crusade since my son went gluten free in 2004 to kill the phrase “good, for gluten free”—for good.
So believe me when I tell you that these amazingly fudgy black bean cookies taste nothing like black beans. It all started when I made perfect black bean brownies and found out that they’re good for more than, say, burritos and black bean burgers.
These cookies are not overly sweet at all, but you can increase the sugar to 3/4 of a cup from 1/2 if you’d like a sweeter cookie. I like them just like this—and why bake with beans if you’re just going to load it up with sugar, right?
You just can’t believe how intensely chocolatey they are until you try them. And what are the chances you don’t have these basic ingredients already in your pantry? If you don’t have unsweetened chocolate, just use the darkest chocolate you have and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Why Black Beans?
If you’re wondering why we’re using black beans, in particular, I blame it on the Internet. I don’t know who the first person was to start this experiment, but suddenly black bean brownies were everywhere.
When you drain and rinse a can of black beans really really well, the beans taste very neutral. And I first decided to give black bean brownies a try when the quality of a beloved brand of black beans went downhill and every can was suddenly mushy and pitiful.
I haven’t tried these cookies (or my black bean brownies) with another type of bean, but I have to imagine that most beans would work. Speaking of other ingredients that I haven’t tried…
Ingredients and Substitutions
If you’re dying to make this recipe, but wondering (you know you are!) how to make it suit your family’s particular dietary needs, here’s what I can offer you:
Dairy-Free: Easy peasy. Just use softened Earth Balance buttery sticks in place of the unsalted butter, and omit the salt from the ingredient list. Those sticks are plenty salty!
Egg-Free: Eggs are always a little tricky to replace in baking, but since there is only one egg in this recipe, a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel) should work. The only problem here is that, since there’s no flour, the egg provides most of the structure. You’ll have to experiment!
Sugar: You definitely cannot replace the granulated sugar with a liquid sugar (I seem to get that question a lot these days), but you might be able to replace it with coconut palm sugar. But since granulated coconut sugar is quite coarsely ground, I’d recommend pulsing it alone in a food processor before adding it to the cookie dough.
Click play ▶️ below and watch me make these easy cookies—and even watch them bake in the oven!
Yield:12 to 14 cookies
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled briefly
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, place the black beans, butter and egg and pulse until mostly smooth. Add the vanilla, sugar, baking soda, salt and melted chocolate, and pulse again until smooth. The cookie dough at this point should be the consistency of hummus. Add the cocoa powder and pulse until the mixture is well-combined. The consistency will be more like fudge. Add most of the chocolate chips (about 3 ounces) and mix by hand until the chips are evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough.
Using a spring-loaded cookie scoop or two spoons, scoop portions of the dough about 2 tablespoons each and place about 2 inches apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet. Using the back of a moistened spoon, spread each portion of cookie dough into a round about 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle the top of each piece of dough with a few more chocolate chips. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes or until mostly firm to the touch.
Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the cookies have taken on a crackled appearance and are mostly firm to the touch, about 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. They will be quite fragile when they’re warm.
Brown sugar and cinnamon make these gluten free oatmeal bars like the very best oatmeal in a neat little to-go package. Make them ahead for busy weekday mornings!
Way Back When
I started writing this blog in March of 2009. About a month before, and for years before that, I was commuting into Manhattan 3 days a week to my job as a lawyer. Talk about way back when! Since so many people commute through Grand Central Station in midtown Manhattan, there are often happy little greeters handing out samples of food
Since so many people commute through Grand Central Station in midtown Manhattan, there are often happy little greeters handing out samples of packaged food just outside the doors on 42nd Street. Well, on one of my last commutes, those happy greeters were representing Quaker, and they were handing out “Oatmeal To Go” bars. They were these dense and chewy
They were these dense and chewy, lightly sweet bars that tasted like a bowl of the best oatmeal. But they were ready, well, to go when you were. I was hooked.
You know how things just stick in your mind sometimes? Those oatmeal bars were one of those things. If my gluten free son was going to have them, I would have to make them for him at home.
When I start getting school supply lists and there’s Halloween candy in the drug store, that means back to school is coming. And that means crazy busy mornings when breakfast-to-go is the Ultimate Prize.
Well, I made my first batch of those bars sometime in 2010. I refined the recipe and a version of it ended up in my fourth book, Gluten Free Classic Snacks as “Quaker Oatmeal To Go, Brown Sugar Cinnamon.”
Well, I’ve done some research, and it turns out that Quaker no longer makes any version of those bars. So it seems that it’s not just We Gluten Free who have to go rogue and make our own oatmeal bars!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Dairy: I’ve adapted this recipe a bit from the way it appeared in my cookbook, and now often use melted virgin coconut oil in place of melted unsalted butter in the bars. That switch, along with a nondairy milk, makes them naturally dairy free. To make the glaze dairy free, just use a nondairy milk, and replace the unsalted butter with Earth Balance buttery sticks.
Eggs: Eggs are always a bit trickier. I haven’t tried this recipe with 2 “chia eggs” in place of regular eggs (a “chia egg” is just 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds mixed with 1 tablespoon of water and allowed to gel). I’m sure the result would be different, but it would probably work.
Sugar: You could try replacing the brown sugar in the bars with an equal amount, by weight, of coconut palm sugar, but you’ll almost certainly need to use more milk in the bars. You could also use Swerve brand brown sugar substitute. I’ve reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe to 3/4 cup, and I like the less-sweet version.
Now click the play ▶️ button below to watch me make these oatmeal bars with my own two hands!
1 to 2 tablespoons (1/2 to 1 fluid ounce) milk (any kind), at room temperature
For the optional glaze 1 cup (115 g) confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 2 tablespoons (1/2 to 1 fluid ounce) milk (any kind), at room temperature
1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, and whisk to combine well. Add the rolled oats and brown sugar, and mix to combine, working out any lumps. In a separate small bowl, beat the eggs, coconut oil (or butter) and vanilla until well-combined. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the wet ingredients. Add 1 tablespoon of milk, and mix until the dough comes together. It will be very thick. Add more milk by the teaspoonful until the dough comes together completely, with no dry patches.
Transfer the dough to a sheet of unbleached parchment paper and press and pat into a square about 1 inch thick. Place a second sheet of parchment paper on top, and roll out until it is about 8 inches square, and about 3/4-inch thick. Square the edges with your hands and/or a bench scraper. Using a bench scraper or a large knife, remove the top sheet of parchment and slice the dough into 9 or 12 squares, depending upon the size you’d like. Place the squares about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet, and place in the refrigerator to chill until firm (about 10 minutes).
Remove the pan from the refrigerator, place in the center of the preheated oven, and bake until the bars are mostly firm to the touch and just beginning to brown on top, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the pan.
While the bars are cooling, prepare the optional glaze. In a medium-size bowl, place the confectioners’ sugar and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add 1 tablespoon of the milk, butter and the vanilla, and mix until a thick, smooth paste forms. If it’s too thick to pipe, add more milk by the half-teaspoonful until you reach the proper consistency. Once the squares have cooled completely, pipe a zigzag pattern of glaze on top of each. Allow to set at room temperature.
These bars can be stored in a sealed glass or plastic container at cool room temperature and should maintain their texture for about 5 days. For longer storage, wrap individually in freezer-safe wrap, and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature.