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Mystery dessert features Jell-O and marshmallows

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Today I’d like to kick off a recipe mystery with the hope that someone out there can figure out whodunit. Or rather, howdunit. In other words, who has this recipe? Someone must.

Carol F. Hu is looking for a Jell-O dessert recipe that she says was popular about 40 years ago — a layered creation with a shortbread crust, a cream-cheese middle and an orange gelatin topping with miniature marshmallows.

"It was everywhere … parties, picnics … then it disappeared," she wrote. "I think I could make it up, but I want to know what the original recipe is."

This rings no bells with me, and I couldn’t find a hint of it in old local cookbooks or contemporary sources. Still, I’m certain someone must know what Hu is after. If you have the recipe, send it here — there’s a free cookbook in it for you. But keep in mind the details: three layers, and whole miniature marshmallows (the marshmallows weren’t melted into the gelatin or spread out as a frosting).

You’ll notice I do have a recipe here, but it’s not the right one. I include it as a starting point. Also because I needed a light dessert this weekend and figured I’d give Hu’s request a shot. This recipe is cobbled together from various options offered by Jell-O’s maker, Kraft Foods.

I was pleasantly surprised by the results, as I expected the combination would be icky and sticky. But no, it was quite refreshing, with the marshmallows creating a sort of poor man’s meringue. My nephew actually licked his plate.


» Crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
» First layer:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup thawed whipped topping, such as Cool Whip
» Topping:
1 15-ounce can mandarin orange segments
1 4-serving package orange gelatin
2 cups miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup cold water
Ice cubes

To make crust: Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press into bottom of 9-inch square pan.

To make first layer: Beat cream cheese, sugar and milk until smooth. Add whipped topping; mix well. Carefully spread over crust. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

To make topping: Arrange orange slices and marshmallows over cream cheese layer. Set aside.

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Combine cold water and ice cubes to make 1-1/4 cups and add to gelatin, stirring until slightly thickened; remove any unmelted ice. Pour gently over oranges and marshmallows. Marshmallows will float; try to spread them evenly around the top. Chill until firm, about 3 hours.

Nutritional information unavailable.


Gwen Tani is looking for a recipe for a friend in Massachusetts — a spicy Okinawan watercress/cucumber salad that includes mirin, hot pepper paste, sugar and other ingredients that she can’t recall. This doesn’t sound traditionally Okinawan. I thought at first it may have been Korean, but probably not with the mirin. So I’ve hit a wall. Any ideas? Please get in touch.

Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Send e-mail to

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