Get your minds out of the gutters people! I’m not talking about anyone’s posterior region… I’m referring to that “superfood” of childhood — JELL-O!! And I am singing the praises of a Jell-o product I happened to find during a trip to my local grocery store. My intentions were to mosey down the chip and Diet Coke aisle, but somehow I (gasp!) ended up in the BAKING aisle! Alert security, a celiac has entered Aisle 7.

Wow, did you ever realize just how much flour there actually is in the Baking Aisle? Good grief.

As you know, even the smallest thing could distract me at any given moment, so I need s-i-m-p-l-e recipes in the kitchen (and a fire extinguisher on deck just in case). While going rogue in Aisle 7, I happened upon several boxes of Jell-o No Bake Desserts. The box was practically smacking me on the forehead with their “Goof Proof 15 Minute Prep” label. Jackpot baby! Mind you, the picture on all three varieties shows a cookie crust, but something urged me to read the ingredients anyway (my hubby was watching the kids while I food shopped, so this was “me-time”). Ok, I admit food shopping is pretty lame for “me time”, but I’ll take what I can get :)

Back to the Jell-o No Bake Desserts. Jello is made by Kraft Foods. Kraft Foods is one of the first companies I sought out when I became gluten free because they clearly identify any of their products that contain a source of gluten. The Jell-o No Bake Dessert ingredients are separated into individually sealed packets based on the Crust, Filling Mix, and Topping. The product ingredients listed on the box are detailed according to Crust, Filling Mix, etc. as well. Since the cookie crust portion of the dessert was clearly not gluten free, I just threw out the packet (or you could save it for a gluten eating friend to use) and altered the recipe a bit.

Here’s my feedback:

Jell-o No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Dessert.  Oooh, these were yummy! It was like eating a giant, fluffy peanut butter cup. After discarding the Oreo Cookie Crust Mix (sigh), I put approximately half a box of Health Valley Rice Bran crackers into a ziploc bag and crushed them with a rolling pin. This would serve as my gluten free crust. The Peanut Butter Cup Filling Mix and Chocolate Topping are gluten free, so I was able to prepare them as directed. I opted for the Frozen Peanut Butter Cups recipe (using standard cupcake wrappers). Another option is to make this in an 8×8 pan. FYI, on the box there are other “Quick & Easy Variations” to the recipe such as PB&J squares and PB & Banana squares. I would totally make these again! One small but crucial word of advice, DO NOT eat more than two of these peanut butter cups in a row or you will feel uber-sick. Trust me, I am speaking from experience (ok, I ate four, but who’s counting?!)…

Jell-o No Bake Real Cheesecake Dessert. While making the first Jell-o recipe, I had used all of my Health Valley Rice Bran crackers. So, what to do for a crust bottom? I had a moment of spontaneity and (holy crap!) improvised. After melting five squares of Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, I drizzled enough chocolate to cover the bottom of all 24 mini-cupcake wrappers. Again, the Filling Mix was gluten free, so I prepared that per the directions. During this time, I popped the chocolate-bottomed cupcake wrappers into the fridge to harden. After adding the cheesecake filling, I topped these with fresh blueberries. The result — these were tasty but really messy! The cheesecake filling was light and airy, not dense like your “typical” NY style cheesecake.  I think a cookie crust would work much better. Unfortunately, the chocolate base melted as soon as you took the cheesecake out of the wrapper. Despite refrigerating the cheesecakes per the instructions (and even putting them in the freezer as well!), they were very gooey. On a positive note, the mini-cupcake wrappers worked perfectly for this recipe as you were able to delicately shove the entire thing in your mouth in one fell swoop (classy, huh?). I would like to try making this again (they were a huge hit with my family!), possibly using a pie plate instead of the mini cups.

At a price of $2.99 to $3.99 per box, the Jell-o No Bake Desserts are an easy, reasonably priced dessert. With just a little tweaking you can make it gluten free and proudly declare some Jell-o love (thanks Mr. Cosby!).