Show us your beads!
Mardi Gras is a time to celebrate and indulge. It means “Fat Tuesday” in French, and it’s traditionally the day before the fasting season begins for Lent, which means lots of fatty foods and booze. Seems like the perfect time for jelly shots!
Since the traditional colors of this celebration are green, purple and gold, I decided to do a take on the ribbon shots, like the Holly Jolly Jelly Shots and the Jelly Shot Showdown. Add a few pearl candy “beads” and you’re in business!
I used a small breading pan for these (slightly larger than half of a square baker), but you could also try a loaf pan. If you don’t have something this size, a square baking dish would work; you just might want to double the recipe. Lightly coat your pan or dish with cooking spray, and then using a paper towel, wipe it out. This will leave a light residue to help unmold your shots, but it won’t affect the taste.
Pour 3/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Sprinkle three packets of unflavored gelatin over the top and allow it to soak in a minute or two. It will sort of look like applesauce. Turn on the burner and heat over medium, stirring constantly, until gelatin dissolves. This will only take a couple minutes.
Then pour in 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk and thoroughly combine. Add one cup of flavored vodka (I used a salted caramel one, but whipped cream or cake-flavored vodka would be good too). Add in two tablespoons of Irish cream liqueur (optional) and stir. Now add enough cold water so that you have three cups total (a little less than another cup of cold water).
Now for the fun part! Separate the mixture into three bowls or measuring cups. Using food coloring, mix up your colors. For the bright purple, I used 6 drops of neon purple food coloring. For the green, I used 10 drops of neon green food coloring plus one drop of neon blue. For the yellow, I just used regular yellow food coloring (about 8-10 drops). Depending on how bright you want your colors you can add more or less dye.
Pour half of the green mixture into the prepared pan (about 1/2 cup). Place pan in refrigerator to set, about 10-15 minutes. You’ll know it’s set when you can lightly press down with your finger and it feels solid (as if you could pour something on top), but still sticky. The first layer will take the longest, so I recommend checking it often and then basing the subsequent layers off of that (a kitchen timer comes in handy). It’s very important to add each layer before the other is completely set to allow for proper bonding.
Once the green layer is set, add half of the yellow mixture and return to the fridge to set. Repeat with the purple layer, and then repeat all three colors once more for a total of 6 layers.
Some notes on this process: It’s VERY important that your mixtures cool to room temperature before pouring onto the set gelatin. Otherwise you'll melt the set layer. Pour slowly to avoid air bubbles, and try your best to pop any bubbles before placing in the fridge. It’s also important to only allow each layer to firm up until barely set. This helps to bind all of the layers together.
During this process, I leave everything out at room temperature and cover with a little plastic wrap to keep it slightly warm.
When you’re ready to serve, gently pull the edges away from the pan and invert onto a cutting board. Slice into even squares.
These are fantastic as-is, but whipped cream and candy pearl bead candies in green, gold, and purple really complete the Mardi Gras theme.
The whipped cream will start to melt pretty quickly, so you may want to allow guests to add their own or skip this step entirely. Another option would be to walk around and serve them as soon as you’ve added the whipped cream. I find homemade whipped cream generally lasts a little longer before the melting starts. If using homemade, use a piping bag. Otherwise, you can always use the canned variety. Another option might be to go with vanilla frosting piped onto the shots.
So grab some beads, some jelly shots, and get ready to party!
Jaymee Sire is an Emmy award-winning sports anchor by day and food blogger by night. (Or sometimes vice-versa depending on the sports schedule). You can check out more of Jaymee’s delicious creations (including endless jelly shot ideas) on her alphabet-themed food blog, e is for eat. Cheers!