Frozen Valentine Rounds – A Vintage Gelatin Recipe Re-Run

Posted on Feb 12 2014 - 3:39am by RetroRuth

This week I dug into the archives to pull out a Valentine’s Day gelatin, because I am pretty sure it doesn’t get much better than a pink gelatin mold with marshmallows in it. Much better than chocolate, right? Anyway, this recipe originally ran in February of 2012, and it was a lot of fun to make and photograph! Enjoy!

I have to admit, Tom and I started out this week’s Mid-Century Menu test very disappointed. You see, this special Valentine’s dinner was supposed to really be heart-y. And by that, I mean it was literally supposed to have a beef heart in it.

Sadly, our local butcher shop, after having come through like champs for us when we needed cow tongue and salt pork, failed us this week. When Tom went in to get a two-pound beef heart, (no more organ meat on the floor of MY car, I can tell you that right now) he actually stumped our butchers. Oh, they can order it for us, they said, but it would take a week or two to get here. But by then the wonderful horribleness of being able to have a Valentine’s Recipe with an actual, blood-pumping heart in it would be long done and gone, so we decided to pass on ordering our two-pound love muscle and just make something comforting for this week’s Valentine’s Menu.

And by “comforting” I of course mean Jell-O with canned fruit cocktail in it.


Ah. See? Now I feel all better.

BHG Holiday Cook Book001

I have to admit the first time I saw the cover of this cookbook, my heart started beating faster. (See, I knew we could work in a heart somehow!) My palms got a little sweaty and I got butterflies in my stomach. From the oversized, “A Christmas Story” style fruit basket in the corner to the little, winking pimento eyes of those bacon-wrapped olives, everything about this cover told me that I was in for a heck of a mid-century holiday visual feast.

And it truly did not disappoint.

BHG Holiday Cook Book003

This is a frozen Jell-O salad with mayo and canned fruit cocktail in it.

It’s not a real heart, but it’ll do, Pig. It’ll do.

BHG Holiday Cook Book002

4.0 from 1 reviews
Frozen Valentine Rounds
  • 3½ cups canned fruit cocktail
  • 1 package lemon flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ¼ cup maraschino cherry syrup
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1½ cups tiny marshmallows
  • ½ cup drained and quartered maraschino cherries
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • Few drops of red food coloring
  • Red Heart Gelatin Cut-Outs
  1. Drain fruit cocktail, save 1 cup syrup. Dissolve gelatin in hot water; add reserved fruit cocktail syrup and maraschino cherry syrup and lemon juice. Chill till partially set.
  2. Soften cream cheese; add mayo and beat until smooth. Add to gelatin mixture, stirring well. Stir in fruit cocktail, marshmallows and cherries. Fold in whipped cream. Tint pink with food coloring.
  3. Pour into two No 2 or 2½ cans and freeze until firm (several hours or overnight). When firm, open other side of can and push salad out. Slice and place on lettuce and top with a gelatin heart.
  4. Gelatin Hearts: Make 1 package red gelatin (any flavor) and chill in shallow dish or pan until set. Cut out hearts with a cookie cutter.


But I did make two small changes to this week’s recipe, which I don’t normally do.

The first is that I didn’t have enough fruit cocktail, so I put in extra cherries.


It’s actually kind of a funny story. Not like the whole “butcher shop doesn’t have a heart” story above, which is just sad. No, this one is funnier because it involves Tom and me not communicating clearly.


So, when the plans to obtain bovine heart went awry, I had to come up with a new Valentine’s Mid-Century Menu plan, fast. I emailed Tom a list of supplies to pick up on his way home from work, including a notation to bring back “3 cups of fruit cocktail”.


When he got home he unpacked the new groceries and plopped into my hand a package of individually packaged, single serving fruit cocktail cups.

“Wait,” I said.

“What?” He set a roll of paper towels on the countertop.

“What is this?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t ask me. You said you wanted three cups of fruit cocktail.”



The other small change is, since I was now the proud owner of fruit cocktail “cups”, I didn’t have a big can to mold my salad in. So I went crazy and jammed it into a Jell-O mold I’ve been meaning to use for a while.

Isn’t it glorious?


I even got to stuff the center with miniature marshmallows.


I know, there are a lot of shots of this thing. But in my defense, I am actually really proud of it.


But you can’t just be proud of something because it’s pretty. You have to be proud of what’s on the inside, too.

Which is more marshmallows.


He is suspiciously sniffing it.

“Why does this smell like orange juice?”

I honestly had no answer for that one.


“Tastes like salad bar goo.”

I put down the camera and looked at him. “What?”

“It tastes like that pink, gooey gelatin salad that was always in the all-you-can-eat salad bars when I was a kid. You know, the salad you would take so that you didn’t have to take lettuce.”

“Where did you eat as a kid?’

“Dunno. Ponderosa?”

The Verdict: It’s A Salad

From The Tasting Notes:

Despite the glorious looks of this thing, it is totally a salad and not a dessert. Non-descript rounds were probably the way to go with this thing. It tasted thick and rich, like lemon and whipped cream and mayonnaise, if that makes any sense. Not bad, but not overly sweet. Would be a great, edible showstopper salad for a mid-century dinner party.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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12 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Beth February 12, 2014 at 8:21 am - Reply

    I hosted a mid century get-together this past Saturday and one of my guests brought this. I admit to having a prejudice against any sweet concoction that has mayonnaise in it. Tuna + mayo = good;
    fruit cocktail + mayo = *shudder*. It looked lovely, though!

  2. CAT February 12, 2014 at 9:36 am - Reply

    My mom gave me her copy of this cookbook a while ago. Now I’m going to HAVE to try this recipe. It does look really tasty, although the “pink goo-ey gelatin salad” review doesn’t really sell it very well!

  3. Erica February 12, 2014 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    That salad could illustrate one of those overly adorable “Love Is” cards — love is a spouse who would eat this salad

  4. Steve February 12, 2014 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    When I was a kid and my grandfather did most of the cooking for for us (Dad plus us 3 kids), beef heart was a regular offering. After some experimentation, he settled on a long slow roast in a dutch oven. It was quite tasty, though best when not carved to look like chunks of an actual heart. We all like it despite shifting the ‘f’ in beef heart one spot to the right and making non-stop jokes about Bee flatulence. Until Granddad told us to settle down and eat. Nice memory.

  5. Tipsykit February 13, 2014 at 1:31 am - Reply

    WHY is there mayonnaise in this?? Is it because that is the only ingredient in here that might reasonably make an appearance in an actual salad? If you didn’t include mayo, you would be legally required to call this dessert? I guess if you call this a salad and have it as a side with dinner, you can then justify having a second dessert without feeling like a pig since the first one technically was a part of dinner. Clever, Better Homes and Gardens. Very clever.

  6. Sneaky Burrito February 13, 2014 at 7:04 am - Reply

    If you have an Asian market in your area, that is where to find beef hearts. I started buying produce at one recently because it was good quality but super cheap. But the meat department is repulsive: beef hearts, pork hearts, beef pizzle (Google it if you must), beef large intestines, tripe, kidneys of some sort, “Rocky Mountain oysters,” etc. All part of the regular stock.

  7. Jennifer Barnaby February 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    This reminds me of a firm Ambrosia so I simply MUST try it! BTW, I worked at the Ponderosa in Ottawa when I was a teenager and there was no salad like this there – more’s the pity!!

  8. Amorette February 13, 2014 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day like Rocky Mountain Oysters deep fried. This salad would be a perfect compliment..

  9. Seamus February 13, 2014 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    What’s the drink in the top right corner? It looks like it might actually be good.

  10. dkzody February 13, 2014 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    Love your jello mold. Glad you used it so well with this “dessert” salad. I don’t know why we did these salads in the 50s, but I remember them well.

  11. Carol the long winded February 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    Beef heart is sooooo soooo good, and good for you!

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