As far back as Post multi-platform editor Jane Touzalin can remember, this dish was a constant on her family's holiday table, including Christmas. To save time, her mom would chill a single recipe's worth in a 9-inch square baking pan and slice it into squares to serve. When she felt ambitious, she would double the recipe — cutting back on the amount of cider for more firmness — and pour it into a ring mold; see NOTE.
MAKE AHEAD: The gelatin needs to set up for about 11/2 hours before the apples and celery are added, then should chill for at least 4 hours or, if you plan to unmold it, overnight.
8 or 9 servings
3 ounces (1 small box) lemon-flavored Jell-O
2 cups cold, fresh, unsweetened apple cider
Pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 ribs celery
1 to 2 red apples
Mayonnaise, for serving (optional)
Empty the packet of Jell-O into a medium mixing bowl. Heat 1 cup of the cider in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the cider begins to boil, pour it into the Jell-O in the bowl and stir until all granules have dissolved. Add the salt, lemon juice and the remaining cup of cold cider, stirring to combine. Refrigerate for 1 to 11/2 hours.
Cut enough of the celery into 1/4-inch dice to yield about 1 cup. Use the large holes of a box grater to grate enough of the apples, including the peel, to yield about 1 cup.
Begin checking the refrigerated gelatin after 1 hour. When it is thick but has not set, stir in the apples and celery, mixing to distribute them evenly. The gelatin should be just firm enough so that the apples and celery don't sink to the bottom.
Spray an 8- or 9-inch square pan with cooking oil spray. Transfer the mixture to the pan, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Cut into squares and serve cold, with a small dollop of mayonnaise, if desired.
NOTE: To double the recipe for molding, dissolve 2 packets of Jell-O in 2 cups of boiling cider, then add 13/4 cups of cold cider; the gelatin will be sturdier and will hold its shape better after unmolding. Spray the mold with cooking oil spray before filling. To unmold, use a moistened fingertip to gently pull the gelatin away from the side of the filled mold. Dip the mold into warm water up to the rim for 10 seconds. Wipe the mold dry and give it a shake to loosen. Moisten a cold serving plate and invert it over the open end of the mold; hold plate and mold together firmly, and invert both so that the Jell-O plops satisfyingly onto the plate.
NUTRITION | Per serving (based on 9): 70 calories, 0 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 85 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 16 g sugar