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Easy gelatin parfait cups featuring layers of lightly sweetened coffee and rich cream. A creative way to serve coffee after dinner, during the summer, or just any time you’re feeling fancy with your cup of Joe!
Friends! How was your super weird holiday season? Did you do anything super fun to get in the spirit, since it was a bit unconventional given 2020 is nutso?
We typically spend both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with lots of family, but we kept to just the 4 of us this year. It was a bummer to only see our families on Zoom, but it was nice to enjoy a slower paced holiday, especially since the kids (2 and 4) were really feeling the spirit this year.
In keeping with the unconventionality of This Year (can we just always refer to it as “That Year,” please?), I’m bringing some life back to these adorable little coffee gelatin dessert cups that have existed on my blog for over 4 years.
Like so many recipes that I published for the first time at the beginning (or near beginning) of my blogging career, things get lost in the shuffle, ugly photos make me cringe, or recipes just need updated.
And this is one of those: a recipe we loved but that got lost in the shuffle of years of cookies and cakes and even some quiches, and that deserved a little time back in the spotlight.
I wanted to revisit this recipe because recently, I’ve been enjoying coffee in so many ways. Since taking on the blog full time, I have access to coffee, umm, all day long. And I have found myself wanting an afternoon cup often.
Also in the afternoon is when I’m totally into something sweet, so a few weeks ago, I remembered I had a coffee jello recipe and it was the perfect time to give this post a glow up.
And I promise, it’s crazy simple. You just need some patience.
You’ve likely worked with gelatin before– an easy box of Jell-O hardly has a learning curve. There’s some waiting involved, and it’s kind of the hardest step, as the rest is basically just stirring things together until they’re completely combined.
So if you’ve ever done the boxed Jell-O, you’re totally capable of these adorable coffee jello parfaits. Get hype. This is the epitome of “easy.”
First, you’ll start by heating up some water in a saucepan (SO SIMPLE!). To that, you’ll add your gelatin, sweeten it with a little sugar, and then add this to some coffee.
The recipe calls for instant coffee dissolved in water, but you can absolutely use plain ol’ brewed coffee. See notes in the recipe for that.
Pour that into 4 small wine glasses/parfait cups, allow to set (about 2 hours), and then you’re ready for the half-and-half/cream/dairy/non-dairy layer.
For the top layer, you’re going to use half-and-half (you could also use milk, cream, or any non-dairy milk). We’ve used half-and-half and also unsweetened almond milk. Your preference!
Split that up evenly into the chilled parfaits with set coffee jello, being careful to pour down the side of the glass (or onto the back of a spoon) to prevent disturbing the coffee layer.
Another couple hours in the fridge, then you’re good to go! Top with whipped cream (homemade, of course), eat straight up, serve as dessert, as an afternoon snack/pick-me-up, or really, whenever you deem it appropriate to have some coffee (<– any and all the time).
These little coffee jello parfaits are perfect for entertaining (use smaller cups and make 8 of them!), impressing dinner guests, or simply finding a way to creatively enjoy your coffee, especially in warmer months.
As I mentioned, they’re unconventional, just like this year. Though I will say… This coffee trend is more than welcome to stick around in our house.
This Year… Not so much. Cheers to that, eh?
Coffee Jello Parfaits
- 3 cups (720mL) water divided
- 1 ounce (28g) unflavored gelatin1 divided
- ¾ to 1 cup (175-200g) granulated sugar divided
- ¾ cup half-and-half or any milk you prefer
- 2 Tablespoons (12g) instant coffee2
- Heat 1 cup of water in the microwave until warm. Stir in instant coffee grounds until dissolved. Set aside.
- Add another 1 cup of water to a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle ¾ ounce (21g or 3 packets) of gelatin evenly on top and stand for 1 minute. Stir with a spatula, then add ½ to ¾ cup3 of the sugar. Continue to heat and stir to dissolve completely. Add coffee and stir to combine.
- Transfer the coffee jello to a large container with a spout (like a glass measuring cup), then, pour evenly into prepared parfait glasses (approximately ½ cup in each). Allow to set completely in the refrigerator (about 2 hours).
- When the coffee jello is set, remove cups from the refrigerator and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 cup of water to a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle ¼ ounce (7g or 1 packet) of gelatin evenly on top and stand for 1 minute. Stir with a spatula, then add ¼ cup of sugar. Continue to heat and stir to dissolve completely. Add half-and-half and stir to combine.
- Transfer half-and-half mixture to a large container with a spout (like a glass measuring cup). Pour mixture onto the back of a spoon or spatula and into the coffee jello cups to prevent the half-and-half layer from disturbing the set coffee layer. You'll wind up putting just shy of ½ cup in each. Allow half-and-half layer to set completely, about 2 hours.
- Top coffee jello parfaits with homemade whipped cream, if desired, or enjoy as-is. Coffee jello parfaits stay fresh in the refrigerator, covered, up to 1 week. Top with whipped cream right before serving.
- Gelatin: gelatin typically comes in boxes of 4 packets, 7g or 0.25oz each. If this is not the case for your gelatin, you’ll want a digital kitchen scale to help you.
- Instant coffee: you can eliminate the instant coffee and third cup of water completely by using 1 cup (240mL or 8oz) of brewed coffee.
- Sugar: if you prefer your coffee less sweet, add minimal sugar, then taste after completing step 3.