One of the factors that helps me decide which retro recipes to try is if I see a picture and say "what on earth is that?" Of course, this happens quite frequently with vintage cookbooks because there's something about that 1950's cookbook photography that manages to make everything look strange and unappetizing. Something as simple as ice cream on fruit pie will look like lard chunks on top of entrails. And so this very strange looking beast is nothing more than elaborately prepared gelatine, fruit and whipped cream. See full recipe.
Let me first just say: This is one of the most difficult recipes I've done insofar as there are so many opportunities to completely screw it up. Step one is to arrange all of your pineapples and cherries in a bowl, which you will use to mold this desserts' jell-o exoskeleton by placing a second, smaller bowl inside it. Your first peril is to pour your liquid Jell-o between the bowls without disrupting your careful arrangement of cherries and pineapple. After chilling, your second peril is to remove the small bowl without damaging the jello it's resting in. After putting in your creamy fruit filling, chill again and then face peril number three: turn it upside down on a plate and unmold it without damaging any of your jell-o/fruit shell! While I didn't ruin my pineapple duchess, I'll admit I disrupted a few cherries and broke the jello in a couple of places and had to just try to hide it. All the while I was reminded of the movie "The Hours" where Julianne Moore is icing her lopsided cake, cripped with depression over her failure as a housewife...this recipe would have pushed her over the edge.
In the taste department, it was all fine and good. It's jell-o, fruit and whipped cream...I think we all know by now what that tastes like. A few other people tried it and seemed to like it. Texture-wise, it definitely wasn't as rigid as it looked in the picture and spread out a little when I unmolded it, looking like a festive jellyfish. Once we cut into it to eat it, it quickly became a messy pile of the aforementione jell-o, fruit and whipped cream, leaving me thinking: "all that work...FOR NOTHING!" I mean, I understand that presentation is important, but come on.