I've been dreaming about making jellies for quite some time now, with the lack of a mold being the big thing holding me back. With one last bottle of Starvation Alley Farms cranberry juice in my fridge and the citrus section at the grocery store bringing all sorts of joy to my world, I knew it was high time to get my act together and get some molds. Enter these treats: the army of sour gummy bears here to pucker your mouth and put a smile on your face.
Making jellies is basically making jello, but with a little extra gelatin to give them a denser texture. These aren't full-on gummy bears, but they satisfy the same cravings in my life (and with none of the sugar!). 100% cranberry juice brings a hefty dose of tart flavor to the mix, tamed with a bit of orange juice and vanilla. I'm really excited to eat these as a tart treat, but if you're looking for a little less of a pucker, do add a tablespoon or two of sugar to sweeten things up a bit. If you're feeling fancy, you can also coat the final product in superfine baker's sugar... then you basically have sour patch kids!
I used cara cara orange juice for my jellies, which is without a doubt my favorite variety of orange - the perfect balance of sweet and flavorful and the most cheerful color. They're just plain the best. Don't even try to argue : )
And thankfully, setting up a few photos means I get one orange to eat and one to juice for the actual recipe.
Making jellies like this may seem like a big project - but hear me out! It literally takes 15 minutes (at the very most!) to prep these treats. Then you just let them cool for a few hours and pop them out of their molds - it's SO easy, just about anyone could find the time.
Plus, you can feel good about devouring as many as you want, because they're just juice and gelatin - and cranberry juice is absolutely packed with goodness. Need I say more?
In addition to cara cara oranges, I used two of my favorite pantry staples in these treats. Cranberry juice from the fine folks over at Starvation Alley Farms is grown on cranberry farms here in the PNW that are transitioning to organic. It's the perfect ingredient for drinks, my cranberry curd, and treats like these. I also included my favorite vanilla extract from my friends over at Sonoma Syrup. Their Vanilla Bean Crush is a high quality vanilla extract with flecks of vanilla bean right in the extract. I'm in love with vanilla and this one takes it to the next level.
Cranberry Orange Vanilla Jellies
Notes: You can make this recipe without a mold and cut the jellies into little squares. I love a tart treat sometimes, but if you want to take the edge off a bit and sweeten these up, feel free to add the optional sugar addition.
1/2 cup 100% cranberry juice
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (cara cara are my favorites!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp / 2 pkg unflavored gelatin
1-2 Tbsp sugar or honey (optional)
- Combine juices and vanilla in a small saucepan, then sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let it sit for a few minutes so the gelatin can bloom. The gelatin will be wet and the top of the liquid a little wrinkly when it's ready.
- While you wait, lightly coat either silicone molds or a bread pan with oil and set aside.
- When the gelatin has bloomed, stir in the sugar or honey if you're opting to use it. Over medium-low heat, warm the mixture gently until the gelatin and sugar have dissolved completely.
- Fill your molds or pour the mixture into the prepared bread pan.
- Refrigerate for at least a few hours, then remove from molds. If you used a pan, use a rubber spatula or knife to gently loosen the jelly and tip it out onto a cutting board. Cut into squares or shapes.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.