Make a “Jewel Cake” for St. Basil on New Year’s

St. Basil’s feast day is on January 2, but it has become a Catholic tradition to make a “St. Basil’s Cake” on New Year’s to celebrate one of his miracles! St. Basil was a Bishop, and a friend of the poor. He wanted to help the poor people pay their taxes, so he went around town collecting jewelry from each person. He took it all to the governor, but the governor took pity on the people and told them to keep their jewelry. There was just one problem- St. Basil didn’t know which piece of jewelry belonged to who! So he baked cakes with the jewels and gold inside, and distributed them to the people. That’s when the miracle happened- each person got exactly the piece of jewelry back that they had given!

So this year, we made a St. Basil cake to celebrate this miracle with “jewels” inside!


To make this cake, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 packages of jell-o (3 oz each) in different colors
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 envelopes of unflavored (Knox) gelatin

To make the whipped frosting, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored (Knox) gelatin
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

With each package of jell-o, mix with 1 cup of hot water, stir until it dissolves, and put it in the fridge. You’ll need 4 separate containers for the 4 different colors. Let this chill until it turns to gelatin.

To make your white filling, add both of your Knox gelatin packets to 2 cups of hot water and stir until it dissolves. Stir in your can of sweetened condensed milk, and then let this sit and come to room temperature. While you’re waiting, prepare your jell-o “jewels”!

Now take all of your jell-o, cut it into squares, and pour the squares into your pan. I used a springform pan, but you could use any jell-o mold you wanted or just a glass dish.

My kids really had a blast cutting it all into squares and filling the pan! Jell-o is sooooo pretty! πŸ™‚ Once you have all of your jewels in place, pour the white filling over them.

Place your dish in the fridge, and allow this to set up. It will take at least 3 hours. When it’s ready, loosen the edges by running a butter knife around, and place it on your serving dish.

Now it’s time to make your whipped topping! You could just use cool whip, but I wanted my whipped frosting to be a little more stable to hold up longer. Here’s how you do that:  Put 1/2 tsp of Knox gelatin in a coffee mug with 1 tablespoon of cold water and let it soften for several minutes. Heat up 2 cups of hot water in a small sauce pan, and then hold the bottom of the mug in the hot water to dissolve the gelatin. Once dissolved, allow to cool to room temperature.  While it’s cooling, whip your heavy cream into whipped cream. Add the gelatin mixture at the same time as your powdered sugar, and vanilla. Frost your cake immediately, and then chill.

I knew that I would never achieve a perfectly smooth cake, so I just went for a “stucco” look with the whipped cream, which was super easy to do!

When you’re all finished, your cake will be hiding the jewels inside!

Just slice and then wait for the “oohs” and “aahs”!

Even though making St. Basil’s Cake is a Greek tradition, I didn’t go with the traditional cake. If you’d like to make a more traditional St. Basil’s New Year’s cake, check out this recipe. Otherwise, enjoy your beautiful Jell-o jewel cake!

More Recipes You May Like:

This play dough cookie recipe is super easy to make the kids love to shape their own cookies. 

You can also check out this rainbow pour painted cookie. So much fun to make with kids!

This shortbread cookie recipe will remind you of the ones your grandma used to make.

If you love making cookies, you definitely want to check out my world’s most delicious cookie recipe ever! These buttery melt-in-your-mouth cookies are both delicious and also beautiful! They are my favorite cookie of all time. 

Also, be sure to check out this very easy rainbow cake, decorated entirely from candy! No cake decorating skills needed. So fun and yummy!


  1. is it condensed milk (as the recipe says) or evaporated as the instructions say? it would be fun to make this but i want to make sure i have the right milk

  2. What a cute idea! Maybe if the kids felt better we’d try it, but I’m going to save it for a fun whenever cake.

  3. Such a creative idea, Lacey! Thanks for sharing!

  4. You are such an inspiration!! I just never have time (with 7 kids) to search the internet for ideas. I am so blessed you do the grunt work–I hope you know how many of us appreciate you!

    • Aw, thanks! We’ve been having a ton of fun this week continuing to celebrate Christmas, and this was fun to put together. πŸ™‚

  5. Lacy,

    I’ve been trying to find a way to celebrate St. Basil’s Day; didn’t want to do the coin hidden in the cake as we do something like that for Epiphany. This is a great suggestion; thank you!

  6. I called my 8 year old daughter over and asked her if we should make this one. She scanned down all the photos and when she got to the whipped cream said, “Oh, THERE’s the Catholic Icing”

  7. What a pretty cake. I couldn’t look past it. I know my kids will be thrilled to try it. It definitely gets a person’s attention with all those points of color.

  8. That is so cool Lacy! Now I’m curious, I wonder how it tastes? Sweet and delicious is my guess! I agree with Heidi, we ALL appreciate you very much!! Christmas blessings to you and your family!

  9. Love this idea! I was looking for a book to compliment & found “The Lucky Cake” by Anna Prokos…have you heard of any reviews on this as to whether or not it would be educational to St. Basil?

  10. we will definitely be making one on new years day!

  11. Hey! I check your site often (love a GREAT Catholic website) as well as I had to take a double-take when I saw this on ediblecrafts!
    Best of everything to you this year. Thanks for sharing the faith through your creations.

  12. Melissa @ St Brigid's Academy says

    Not only does this sound like a great story and beautiful dessert, but I must comment on how lovely your photographs are of the project. Thanks for sharing this idea. I wonder if I can make this with sugar free jello so I can have a piece!?

  13. Lacy, I am a long time reader, first time commenter… Thank you so much for what you do! I know my family and friends have benefited many times from you sharing your talent. Tonight was case in point. We had our New Years/Theotokos party. Your Jewel cake was a huge hit. I stenciled with sprinkles a cross and 2012 on top. Adults and kids alike loved it.

    Two little comments for anyone else making the cake. Make sure you follow Lacy’s instructions and do not mix the cream jello mixture in until it has cooled or it will melt your jewels. I did a mini trial cake first and this is what I did wrong, oops. Second, and feel free to laugh at me, do NOT try and pour this in a spring form pan, LOL.. Big mess!!

    Thanks again Lacy for all you do for us.

    • Lol! I actually did use a springform pan with no problems. Perhaps you need a new one… πŸ˜‰ I also wanted to put some sprinkles on the outside of the cake, but I couldn’t find mine.

  14. Just ate it! The kids thought it was great but kept looking for hidden diamond rings for some reason πŸ™‚ I did have a difficult time spreading the frosting, but was able to get the entire top covered. Thanks!

  15. That is so pretty! I am not Catholic, but I think it would make a fun cake for any time – especially a birthday party!

  16. love this idea! i am really missing my internet. i am late seeing this but love it and may have to try it.

  17. Great idea Lacy!!! This dessert is very popular in Mexico, it is called “Gelatina Mosaico”, I love it!!

  18. Just as sweet and fabulous as this cake was my son retelling the St. Basil story to his dad almost verbatim, and here i thought he wasn’t listening. Guess he has mastered multitasking at a young age, lol. And I also am so grateful for all your work and efforts, our home and homeschool benefit regularly!

  19. I’m not sure if the Sweetened Condensed Milk comes in 2 sizes, if so, could you please say what size can you used? Thanks, can’t wait to try this, thanks.

    • I think they just come in one size, but my can is 14 oz. I should probably add that to the post for non-Americans as well. πŸ™‚

  20. Ok, this…is a coool cake. Thank you!

    • I really enjoyed this one and my kids loved it! My husband is also a real Jell-o fan, so I’m sure we’ll be making this one again. πŸ™‚

  21. what size springform did you use? I have 3 sizes…I assume maybe an 8 or 9″

    • I only have one. I think it’s a 9 inch, but I’m not sure. It also depends on how tall they are. Mine was only about half full.

  22. Do you know how long this whipped icing will keep its integrity at room temp? I thought that the knox might give it a slightly longer window to be displayed. My girls want to “leave it on the table for everyone to see”, lol.

    • With the knox, it held onto it’s shape very well. Several hours at least. Jell-o also can’t be left out all day.

  23. I love this! Am a bit nervous about making it though as I’m in the UK so have to find equivalent weights/products. I’m making it for my sisters engagement party next week as she doesn’t like normal sponge cakes and I thought the jewel idea would fit the occasion great. Have even shipped in blue jell-o from an American supermarket in London so I can get the colours I want!

    I have a question about the gelatin, I’m unfamilliar with Knox brand, is this the powder sachets of gelatin? Think I’ve got everything else ‘translated’! Heavy cream = double cream, powdered sugar = icing sugar, 1 cup = 235ml. Phew!

    Would really appreciate a response if at all possible. Thank you πŸ™‚

    • Knox gelatin is just unflavored gelatin. I know it’s hard to convert recipes from other countries! Good luck!

  24. Thanks for sharing the recipe. My son wanted to make a cake for his Bible Study teacher. And his favorite dessert is Jello. This was a wonderful surprise for him. Everyone loved it.

  25. Hi, Lacey! Quick question for clarification: your directions say to mix each package of jello with one cup of hot water. The directions on the box say dissolve in one cup hot water then add one cup cold water. Just wanted to make sure you didn’t add the cold water, too? Please let me know when you can. Thanks and Happy New Year!

    • I love this, but have a very picky child and worry he won’t eat it…but I think my oldest and youngest will, so still might give it a go…just need the knox and sweetened condensed milk πŸ™‚

      • Oh, and I wanted to reply to Sue, and didn’t realize my last was under there…Sue, when you add less water the gellatin comes out more like a jello giggler…I am assuming that is the desire here…

  26. how much (in grams) would 2 envelopes of unflavored (Knox) gelatin be?? we dont have envelopes here in a country town in australia

  27. Made this today…my strawberry jello was not fully set, so my white part turned pink…but my fam still loved it…especially my 10 month old πŸ™‚ now trying to figure out how to do a Peter Rabbit theme one for his birthday πŸ™‚ Might still do the chocolate cake, or maybe chocolate pudding πŸ˜‰

  28. I have a recipe for a very similar version of this cake from a dear departed Aunt . Her version had a large tin of drained 2 fruits in with the jewels and instead of the cream topping, you finished it off with a layer of red jelly. Its very refreshing for a summer treat!!! PS, if you were tuning it out into a dish, you put the red jelly first and let it set, then add the rest. looks great if you use one of the traditional Tupperware jelly moulds.

  29. We just made this last night and all of my jello cubes were at the top leaving a layer of the white milky/gelatin layer at the bottom. Next time, I will stir it after 1 to 1.5 hours after the whole thing is chilling to help push the jewels down to stay at the bottom. I will also lightly spray with PAM a round cake pan instead of using a springform, which although it is new and hardly used, it leaked a little. Or maybe I’ll use a bundt cake pan which would be pretty too! Thanks Lacy for the recipe!

  30. I had so much fun making jello dishes with my mother when I was a little girl.

    Now I can make this cake and enjoy it with my family. The story of St. Basil was wonderful to learn as well.

    I learned about this cake when I was researching “cakes with jewelry.”

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