Coffee Cream Jello, 1978

Today’s jello creation comes from another recipe book on loan from my mom, which, like the last one, is held together with a rubber band. Without a cover I can’t tell you exactly what it’s called or how old it is but I can guess with 99.5% accuracy that it is from 1978. I am just that confident.

There are fewer jello recipes in here than I expected, given that it is some kind of Utah heritage cookbook. If you didn’t know, Utah is apparently the Jell-O capital of the U.S. According to Google, anyway. And probably any American you ask.

This recipe comes from the Dessert section (thank goodness). Each section of the book includes a “heritage footnote” about different ethnic groups’ local history. The desserts divider is all about the contributions of Mexican-Americans and highlights a “progressive modern woman” civil rights activist from the Spanish-speaking community. It’s a cool little book.

The Recipe

There was no way I was going to pass up a coffee jello. It just sounds too weird.

“This dessert lends itself to advance preparation.” Doesn’t every jello require advance preparation?


  • 2 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 cups strong boiling coffee
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Chopped pecans, almonds and pistachio nuts (optional)

Soak gelatin in cold water 5 minutes. Add boiling coffee and sugar. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Let cool and begin to thicken. in another bowl, whip 1 cup heavy cream with vanilla until stiff. Fold into coffee mixture. Pour into 1 1/2 quart mold. Refrigerate 2 hours. To serve, unmold. Whip remaining 1 cup cream. Arrange around Coffee Cream. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top. Yield: 6 to 8 servings. Recipe by Ellen Tourssen Kesler.


The directions above are pretty clear, but I’ll type them out for you again with some added details.

  1. Soak the gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. It turns into a bit of a congealed glob, but this will work itself out in the next step. This is very important. If you do not pre-soak (“bloom”) plain gelatin it will not set.
  2. Add boiling coffee and sugar. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. You can brew your own coffee, but I just got mine from Starbucks. I don’t have a coffee maker or a desire to make my own coffee. I don’t even like coffee. I’m more of a tea person.
  3. Let cool and begin to thicken. Please do this because you don’t want to add the cream to hot liquid.
  4. Whip the heavy cream and vanilla until stiff. You can do this by hand, but why strain yourself if you have a blender? I just pulsed it for a few seconds at a time until it was thick.
  5. Fold the cream into the coffee mixture. This is honestly the most difficult part, not that it is “difficult.” You don’t want to mix it vigorously but you do want to get it all blended together pretty well. You might need to break up cream clumps with the back of a spoon.
  6. Pour the mixture into a mold and refrigerate until completely set. I usually just plan on overnight, but you could probably check it after 2 or 3 hours.
  7. Unmold and garnish with chopped nuts and/or whipped cream.

The Verdict

This dessert was waaay better than expected! My husband loves coffee and coffee-flavored things so I think this is his favorite of my retro jello recipes.

The cream and the coffee separated a bit, which I’ll say was intentional. It has a pretty strong coffee flavor, and works really well with the sweet creamy base. I don’t think the nuts are doing much for the dessert other than making it look pretty, but it does need the whipped cream, in my opinion. You can whip some yourself or just use a can. Whatever works for you!

Note: For experimental purposes I made one single serving mini-jello and put the rest in a 4-cup copper mold and it worked out beautifully. I highly recommend using mini-molds if you have them.

Just try it. You might like it.

One thought on “Coffee Cream Jello, 1978

  1. Reblogged this on A Dollop of History and commented:

    Some of you may be aware of my silly little side project about vintage and retro jello. Like many of my projects, this one has been a bit neglected as of late. But I have recently posted a couple new recipes and I plan to do a few more throughout the summer.

    The project was inspired by a stack of horrifying midcentury jello recipes I inherited from my grandmother and her sister. A few of them include some interesting historical context, but most are short and sweet! Enjoy!


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