So the other day was the Fourth of July over here, and I had a barbeque slash potluck to go to. I’ll just admit this now, I’m not great with potlucks. For whatever reason I end up on the side of “add that dish to the 1001 other dishes of the same genre” camp every time that I go to anyone’s gathering.
But no, not this time! I was determined not to be one of the 800 people bringing a standard chip and dip combo to a potluck, no maám. Instead, this time I hedged my bets on two categories: salad AND dessert. Also, I knew that everyone would try to make something newer and more innovative than the last, so I threw that puppy as far back into reverse as I could without being campy.
Naturally, I made ambrosia. ( I was going to make Watergate salad on the political note, but holy crap, had anyone priced out pistachios recently?)
Granted, your standard ambrosia is pretty disgusting sounding to me. Whipped cream (or cool-whip), sour cream, canned pineapple, canned mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries are all mixed up with a smattering of nuts, coconut and marshmallows. Flavor profile, boring. Instant path to diabetes? On it.
So I souped mine up. The best part about this salad is that you can make all of this (except the whipped cream) in advance. I prepped mine the night before, which I highly recommend. Enjoy!
Souped Up Ambrosia
-12 ounces fresh pineapple, cored
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1/4 cup liquid (use any residual pineapple juice and water)
-1 Tablespoon butter
-1 three finger pinch kosher salt
-1 teaspoon vinegar
-1 tablespoon cornstarch
-3 firm fleshed nectarines or peaches, freestone variety
-juice of one lemon
-1 cup desiccated coconut
-1 cup walnuts, bits and pieces
-1 pint heavy whipping cream
-1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
-1/4 cup white sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 lb sour cream
-10 ounces mini marshmallows
1. Chop all your pineapple into a quarter inch dice. Seriously, do it. It’s good knife skills and you’ll thank me later.
2. Then peel the outsides of the peaches or nectarines.
3. Then slice those peaches or nectarines into a quarter inch dice. (p.s. you’re welcome.)
4. If making this salad ahead, toss the peaches and nectarines with the lemon and cover everything with cold water. Cover and refrigerate. If not, just toss the fruit with lemon juice and set aside.
5. In a heavy bottomed saucepot, combine the brown sugar, liquid, butter, cornstarch, salt and vinegar. Turn the heat on medium and stir until everything is dissolved and warm.
6. When the sugar gets warm, add the pineapple.
7. Stir frequently until the sauce begins to reduce but not until it begins to crystallize. (About 10 minutes.)
8. Meanwhile, drain the maraschino cherries but reserve the juice. Chop them up VERY fine. (Again, you’ll thank me later.)
9. Turn off the heat from the sauce and transfer it to a shallow pan. Pop it in the fridge. THE SAUCE MUST BE COLD BEFORE MAKING THE SALAD.
10. Then get those nut pieces and chop those even finer. You don’t want a nut dust, but close.
11. When you’re ready to assemble the salad, begin by whipping the cream with vanilla, sugar and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.
12. Fold in the sour cream.
13. The fold in the nuts, coconut, marshmallows, drained cherries, drained peaches or nectarines and the sauce.
14. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving, but it also tastes excellent on the second day.