With the Holiday season now long over and spring on its' way, this is a good time to clear the pantry of any left over foodstuffs and make room for all the fresh vegetables and fruits soon arriving. One item most of us serve at holiday dinners is cranberry jelly but we rarely find use for it  any other time of year. This dessert idea makes use of any cans or jars of cranberry jelly you may have hiding in your cupboard and you can make it with however much jelly you have on hand, preventing the need to buy more just to make a batch. Mindful of that, amounts are not specific but can be adjusted as needed.  


Cranberry Jelly

Orange juice and zest

Heavy Cream

Gelatin (optional)




Kosher Salt

First Method

     Place however much cranberry jelly you have in a large bowl. Heat on top of a double boiler just to warm and loosen the gelatin.  You can use a standard sauce pan but be careful not to scorch the jelly.  Add sugar to sweeten as necessary. Add orange juice and zest to taste. Allow to cool. Whisk in just enough heavy cream to loosen the jelly and color it pink. The consistency will be similar to pudding.

(The zest can be reserved so the mixture can be pressed through a fine mesh strainer to remove any bits of cranberry and make a smoother mix, adding the zest after straining.)

Chill in the refrigerator until serving. 

Second Method

     Same as first method but whip the heavy cream first. Add the sugar and orange juice to the jelly, reserving the zest. Strain if desired to smooth the mixture, then fold in the orange zest. Following the directions on the gelatin package for whatever amount you are making, add prepared gelatin to the cranberry mixture, mix well, then fold in half the whipped cream to loosen the mix, then add the remaining whipped cream. Pour the homogenous mixture in your chosen serving containers and chill for several hours to allow the gelatin time to set. 


    In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips, any remaining heavy cream and thin with either half and half or whole milk.  You can elevate standard chocolate chips with the addition of your favorite gourmet chocolate bar or other fine, expensive chocolate. The sauce should be thick but pourable when cool. 


      For the first method, place the cold mixture in an attractive serving bowl, chill and just before serving drizzle the chocolate sauce over the top or serve on the side. Garnish with sliced, toasted almonds that have been sprinkled with kosher salt. 

     For the second method, choose your serving container ahead of time so the gelatin will not need to be disturbed once it is set.  A simple clear glass bowl works well but other glassware can be considered. Martini glasses, wine goblets, small ice cream sundae dishes, or any other attractive clear glass ware will show off the parfait and make an eye catching presentation. Pour the mixture into each container, leaving about an inch on top for the chocolate sauce. Once the mixture has set, top with chocolate sauce. Just before serving, top with toasted, salted almonds. 

     In either case, this dessert can be made well in advance and keeps well covered in the refrigerator until it is needed.  Or you can just eat it yourself on the couch while watching tv.