Have you ever heard of a Jelly Slice? Me neither.
My husband Jim and I had planned to visit NYC last weekend to see friends from Melbourne who have been living in Manhattan since the Fall. Unfortunately, I’ve been suffering through a back issue and can’t walk any real distance right now. Visiting NYC when you can’t walk is sheer nonsense, so we had to cancel. But, lucky me, my most excellent Aussie friends decided to come down to visit us here in Arlington instead. Yeah!!
It is no exaggeration to say that I spent 5% of the weekend standing, 60% sitting and 35% lying on the floor. All this reclining makes it hard to cook, so again, lucky me, my friends took over dessert for the weekend. That’s how I was introduced to the Australian specialty of Jelly Slice.
For my friends Paul, Brodie and Gavin, Jelly Slice is a staple of childhood, a traditional recipe not to be messed with. In it’s pure form, it is quite ephemeral. Glistening, light and sweet with a chewy base, this dessert definitely has kid appeal. According to Paul & Brodie, the only two acceptable flavors of Jelly Slice are Raspberry and Lime. Today was a Raspberry kind of day.
The ingredients are deceptively simple.
Australian Raspberry Jelly Slice
Adapted from Australia’s Sweet Baking Favourites
- 13 tablespoons (185 grams) (6.5 ounces) Unsalted Butter, melted
- 9 ounces (250 grams) Nilla Wafers (or Marie Biscuits), processed into crumbs*
- 4 teaspoons plain Gelatin, divided
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) Boiling Water
- 14 ounces (395 grams) Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
- 1 box (85 grams) Raspberry Instant Jello
- More water (boiling & cold) to make jello according to packet instructions
* INGREDIENT NOTE: The original recipe called for Marie Biscuits, not Nilla Wafers, but we weren’t sure where to find the Marie Biscuits, so a substitution was made. Since then, I’ve learned that Goya makes a version of these cookies called Maria Biscuits. I’m not sure if they are exactly the same as the English cookies, but might be a good substitution. Nilla Wafers are really good too. Hard to go wrong either way.
Grease an 8X8 inch pan with butter. You can line the pan with parchment or aluminum foil if you like, but we didn’t find it necessary.
Combine butter and processed Nilla Wafers (or Biscuits) in a medium bowl.
Mix until incorporated and press into the buttered pan.
This is my awesome friend Paul doing the honors because I was, as previously mentioned, lying on the ground.
Refrigerate until firm, approximately 30 minutes.
Dissolve 2 teaspoons of the plain gelatin in 1/2 cup of boiling water.
Mix dissolved gelatin with the sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Beat until well combined and pour over the cold crust.
Refrigerate until set, at least one hour.
Make the jello as per the packet instructions with the following change. After you add the hot water, sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons of plain gelatin over the hot mixture and stir to combine. Then add the cold water.
Cool slightly. Pour all of the liquid jello over the chilled sweet cream base. To avoid a possible dimple in the sweetened cream layer, Paul suggests pouring the liquid over a spoon to dispurse.
Refrigerate again until set (at least one more hour).
Cut into squares with a warm knife. I was surprised by how well the three layers adhered. With a little effort, you could peel them away from each other (as my youngest did because she liked the jello and the crust, but not the white creamy center), but overall, they stick pretty well. And speaking of pretty, aren’t these gorgeous!!
So that is the original recipe…but I can’t help but dream of all the ways that this dessert could be altered for the 21+ crowd.
Add a little vodka to the jelly perhaps? Skip the lemon juice and add Bailey’s and espresso powder to the cream center? Oreos on the bottom? or Nutter Butters? I also want to try crisping up the bottom crust in the oven and cooling before adding the next layer. I think I would have enjoyed the slice even more with a little crunch.
Clearly more research is needed.