Strawberry Romanoff Jel-low

Between 1940 and 1962, Hollywood movie stars and celebrities frequented a popular Beverly Hills restaurant called Romanoff’s. This is where Not-a-Real-Prince “Prince” Michael Romanoff popularized a dessert called Strawberries Americaine Style, originally created by the Carlton Hotel’s Chef Auguste Escoffier in the 1920’s, and boldly renamed it Strawberries Romanoff.

A twist on the classic strawberries and cream, Strawberries Americaine – oops – Romanoff, consisted of strawberries soaked in orange-flavored liqueur (Grand Marnier), served over ice cream and garnished with sweetened whipped cream. This was an especially popular dessert in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

So it should surprise no one that a mid-century somebody had the genius idea to turn this fancy dessert-of-the-stars into jello.

The jello version does not use ice cream but all the other parts are there: strawberries, orange and whipped cream. Actually just strawberries and orange, but the whipped cream is implied.

The Recipe

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A clipping from the family files

In case you’re wondering, I do not know why this is spelled “Jel-low.” My best guess is the newspaper that printed this recipe wanted to avoid the trademarked spelling.

Strawberry Romanoff Jel-low

  • 1 pint fresh ripe strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1 envelope plain gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water and a pinch of bottled grated orange peel (or zest)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 6 oz. undiluted unsweetened frozen orange juice concentrate, partly thawed.

Put washed, hulled berries in a round glass bowl. Use small berries, if available, otherwise slice them in half lengthwise.

Sprinkle gelatin on cold water in a mixing bowl or blender container. Wait one minute, then add boiling water. Blend or mix until gelatin is dissolved.

Add orange juice concetrate and blend smooth. Pour over fruit. Chill in refrigerator several hours. Serve from the bowl. Or, dip the bowl briefly in warm water, then invert on platter to unmold.

Serves six, about 80 calories each.

This couldn’t be an easier recipe, and it takes maybe 15 minutes to prepare.

I sliced my strawberries lengthwise but I feel like I could have made them smaller. In the end it didn’t really matter that much. I also just used zest in place of the bottled grated peel. And, because 6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate appears to be nearly impossible to find, I just cut a 12 oz. can in half. If you want to know more about the history of frozen orange juice check out the recipe for Orange Delight Dessert, 1968.

The molding part is also simple, but be aware that you don’t need that big of a bowl! The one I used was probably about 6 cups but there was a lot of room between the jel-low and the rim. Don’t go any smaller than a pint, though.

The only other note for anyone at home wanting to give this a try is that the strawberries float when you add the liquid, which means they will be on the bottom when you invert the mold. I am not sure if this was the intent or not but a heavy bottom layer of strawberries never hurt anybody. I did try to push them down a bit as the gelatin started to harden but my efforts appear to have been wasted. Regardless, it looked pretty!

The Verdict

Everyone liked this dessert, especially the kids! It’s hardly an earth-shattering dining experience, but I’ll admit it’s a fun way to eat strawberries with canned orange juice.

I dare you to whip this thing up for the family and serve it over some vanilla ice cream. Don’t forget to top it with whipped cream! I haven’t actually tried it over ice cream yet but a true Strawberries Romanoff fan would be willing to test that out and report back to me via the comment section.

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