Port Wine Gelée

Years ago when we lived in Michigan we went to a dinner party hosted by Peter, a bachelor friend. It's been a while, but what's remained in my memory is the excellence of the meal. Not one of us had a clue our old friend was such a talented chef. We were served a perfectly dressed tossed salad, individual filet mignons, a lovely spoon bread and Port Wine Gelée for dessert. And he did all the cooking, no help. Very impressive. Who knew? After all, he could have taken the easy way out and done his entertaining at a restaurant; most single guys did back then...we were a pretty big group.

Of course I just had to have the spoonbread and gelée recipes. Wasn't easy. Peter didn't want to part with the gelée recipe... turned out it was a very old family recipe, handed down from his grandmother. In the end he relented - I pestered him unmercifully. He had get an OK from his mother and sister too. There are lots of recipes that use port wine, but I've never found one like this.

For some reason it's very much a recipe for the holidays. Special. Festive. Unusual. Light. It seems to me that Christmas would be the ideal time to try this. You have to make it ahead - just whip the cream at the last minute. It serves a lot of people and your biggest problem will be finding a pretty tray on which to unmold it and some lovely fruit for decorating or perhaps even some holly. I used the biggest (unfortunately also the most boring) mold I own. Why I have never purchased a prettier one I can't imagine.

A couple times I have cut the recipe in half when I didn't need quite so much. At a guess I would say this recipe easily serves 12-16 people.

Peter's Port Wine Gelée


5 envelopes Knox gelatin (approximately 12 1/2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 lemons, rinds and juice
1 orange, rind and juice
4 cups water
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar
2 cups good quality tawny port wine
2 jiggers whiskey
2 oranges, sections only
4 grapefruit, sections only
1 bunch of any small seedless grapes, halved
1 cup sliced almonds
2 cups whipping cream, whipped and lighly sweetened
candied ginger cut in bits, to taste


Soften the gelatin in the 1 1/2 cups of cold water for 5 minutes. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Sliver the rinds of the lemons and orange, add to the boiling water along with juices, cinnamon, gelatin mixture and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat, let the mixture steep for 5 minutes. Strain and then add the wine and whiskey. Set this mixture aside to cool to room temperature and then place it in the refrigerator. You want it to begin to get thick. If you add the fruit when it is thin, the fruit will sink to the bottom.

Section the 2 oranges and the 4 grapefruit. Halve the grapes. When the port wine mixture is very thick and syrupy, add the fruit sections, grapes and almonds. Pour into your favorite mold and refrigerate overnight.

Whip the cream, add a little sugar and then dice some candied ginger into the whipped cream. Unmold the gelée, surround it with fruit or holly and serve with the whipped cream.


  1. This is truly beautiful, a real work of art. The sugared grapes make a lovely touch.

  2. I am glad your friend shared this wonderful recipe with you!
    Its a keeper

  3. Looks like a perfect way to celebrate. Such a talented chef a bachelor? Someone should snap him up! ;)

  4. Amazing dessert! I have never seen it's like...

  5. Fantastic recipe! The presentation is impressive and the combination of flavors and textures is mouth watering.

  6. And now every year when you serve this, you'll think of your dear friend!

  7. Your pictures leave me awestruck Barbara...such a gorgeous desert... you are incredible !

  8. Very pretty and how perfect for the holidays! Absolutely gorgeous. I'm glad you were able to use you powers of persuasion and get the recipe! :)

  9. HH: I'm not too good at sugaring grapes!

    Susan: I agree!

    Leslie: He was nice to share it with me. Don't know how he'd feel now that years later I posted it. LOL

    Cate: He was!

    Buffalodick: Very boozy actually, which I love.

    Mimi: I like the textures too.

    Duck: I do and hope he won't ever find out I posted it!

    Nat: Thank you so much!

    Hungry Dog: I don't know why it seems to be a holiday dessert, but it does.

  10. This is quite an impressive dessert! So lovely, and I think the sugared grapes are the perfect garnish. This is really a wonderful holiday dessert! Thanks for posting it, I'm glad Peter agreed to share! ;)

  11. That looks so good! A nice light dessert! So pretty and well-presented!



  12. How gorgeous is that?!?!? And, perfect after a giant holiday meal!

  13. The talent it took to make this look so lovely, amazed me. This is beautiful.

  14. A bachelor that can cook? I've never heard of such a thing! What a fabulous looking recipe- perfect for the holidays

  15. I always wanted to make gelee. Thanks for sharing the recipe! Pictures look gorgeous!

  16. Beautiful presentation! The recipe sounds delicious, it looks fantastic!

  17. WOW!!! That is a gorgeous gorgeous gelee! I love the presentation and the pictures are outstanding!

  18. Looks so festive and fabulous! I'm definitely going to make some sort of gelee for Christmas. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  19. The look of this dessert is just incredible! It would look perfect on a party table as well!

  20. Faith: I like holly around it too.

    Rosa: Thanks!

    Unconfidential: Yes, it's a plus to be so light a dessert after a heavy dinner. Sometimes people just don't have room for pie!

    Sweet and Savory: You ARE sweet!

    Erica: It sure was unusual back then- maybe not so much now.

    Ellie: Gelées are so pretty! And there are so many flavors out there you can use.

    Dishes Done: Thanks!

    Natasha: It tastes divine too!

    Shaz: Hope you do- I love the flavors and colors possible! How about Pom?

    Chocolaty: Yes, it makes quite a presentation. Nobody want to cut into it. But I feel that way about most pretty desserts!

  21. Wow that looks impressive! Like gourmet jello cake (and infinitely tastier than jello anything). This is definitely ideal for the holidays.

  22. This is so beautiful! I would love to try it.

  23. That looks so pretty!! You are right--it's festive enough for the holidays!

  24. OMG...OMG...that was all I was saying when I looked through this post...honest...that jelly mould at the top is soo beautiful and then I saw the jelly studded with almond flakes...I never thought of putting almond flakes in jellies. Do they get soft? But the deep red colour is so precious.. Ijust LOVE it.

    I have been looking for a pretty mould all over town so that I could make a simple jelly..but a simple jelly MUST have a pretty mould. Too bad ..I just couldnt find one beautiful enough. most were just the ordinary ones.

    Now yours would be perfect! :)

  25. what a pretty treat, i've never had anything like this.

  26. Joanne: Don't you love the name gelée rather than gelatin? Classier! ;)

    Natashya: Please do!

    TKW: It makes a dramatic appearance all right!

    zurin: The almonds stay fairly crunchy actually.

    teresa: Thank you! I think it's pretty unusual.

  27. You are an artist. Thank you for sharing, xxx. As for your comments, I agree with you, it is a wake-up call for us.

  28. I do not eat grape jelly meatballs, but I know people who do.

  29. Clarity: Love your blog.

    Duck: So enjoy your recipes, stories and sheer talent!

  30. oh, gorgeous. i love anything made with gelatin. totally trying this!

    p.s. sorry it's taking so long to get your book to you. my sitter has been out of commission for a couple of weeks, so i have been running around like a crazy woman. did you send your mailing address?

  31. It looks wonderful! I love food when looks delicious and special. Please thank Peter for me:)

  32. fanciest jello i've ever seen. :)
    seriously, gelee just sounds elegant and exquisite, and it is! i'm amazed by all the components going into this masterpiece, and the almonds are especially awesome. what a treat!

  33. Those copper molds is my dream to have one day. Beautiful!

  34. Does Peter know you've just shared his recipe with the entire blogosphere?! hheehee... Thanks for it anyway - it's summer now in Sydney and this would be perfect!

  35. Cate: NO problem- don't give it a thought. I emailed my address, if you need it again, let me know.

    Francesca: I know, it's yuumy.

    Grace: I'm going to change the name of that ghastly black cherry jello ring my father loved to: Black Cherry Sherry Gelée. Humm. It rhymes too.

    Elra: Mine too. Maybe I'll check eBay.

    Trissa: Peter does NOT know and I hope he never finds out!

  36. Hi Barbara,

    This looks delicious and the perfect Summertime dessert.
    It would be lovely with strawberries and raspberries alongside.
    Thanks for sharing and I hope that you are having a great week


  37. This is such a beautifully festive jelly! (But I quite understand if you're reluctant to pass on my thanks for the recipe to Peter ;-) ).

  38. *sigh* what a gorgeous copper jelly mold! I love it and wish I had something similar. I love its height too :)

  39. Carolyn: I agree- it would be pretty with summer fruit around it.

    Kate: Going to keep my mouth shut and hope he doesn't read foodie blogs.

    Lorraine: I'd adore one of those pretty molds. Going to keep my eyes open!

  40. How gorgeous, I love gelee and the sugared grapes are so beautiful and elegant. I have some pretty copper molds , I think I may give this a try.

  41. Barbara, this is so gorgeous and how lucky we are to get this family recipe! Thanks so much for sharing - it looks so beautiful and I can imagine it would make a spectacular entrance at the dinner table.

  42. What an elegant name! I would love to give this a try.

  43. Wow!That is a beautiful dish!!!What a great dessert for the holidays.

  44. Bunny: Lucky you to have some gorgeous molds!

    Vanessa: Every time I serve it, people are fascinated with the flavors.

    Bridget: So much better than that boing word gelatin isn't it?

    Erica: It is!

  45. I enchanted the Internet so when I write stories, you hear sounds, smells, see things scurrying by...that's why you smelled the sulpfer.

  46. Duck: I believe it!

    Sophie: I know positively this recipe requires that much gelatin- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons to every pint of liquid (and all that fruit- it is a lot of stuff to jell)...you won't need as much agar agar- it jells more firmly. Do you use it because you are a vegetarian?

  47. Oh! This is so different, must taste so yummie and what a nice presentation...indeed very festive :-)

  48. Barbara this is the most sophisticated & adults-only gelee I've ever seen! MOTH is a jelly lover so I'm going to give this one a go. Don't have a copper jelly mould, so the good old Tupperware one (which must be at least 30 years old) will have to suffice. Thank you for your sweet message, our cool change has arrived today thankfully. I was in Florida 3 years ago for a Conference, sadly just in & out of Orlando. The beaches look fantastic!
    Millie ^_^

  49. Juliana: Thanks for your kind comment!

    Millie: I love those old tupperware molds. I have one, but it wasn't big enough for this recipe. Hope your foot is soon feeling better!

  50. Barbara, I am so glad that you came by so I could find your divine blog. I've been scrolling through and reading some posts and it all looks so wonderful. Your photos are beautiful. I think this is a must visit blog for me.

  51. What an elegant dish. I remember my aunt used to serve something like this when we visited her house on the holidays. Very festive!

  52. Barbara, this looks AMAZING! I've never seen a recipe like this one either, and I come from the land of jelly salads...

    Thanks for your message on my blog.

  53. I love tawny port wine and this sounds like a delightfully festive recipe! I haven't made a gelatin dessert or salad for ages but this one makes we want to change that ;)

  54. Mt goodness! I will never leave the kitchen if I keep scrolling! (I am so far behind in reading my favs!)

    This combination looks great.

  55. This looks lovely. I have a pretty silicone jelly mould that I bought a few weeks ago - perhaps this is the recipe to test drive in it!



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