There are certain foods from my childhood that I tend to refer to as “food porn”. You know, those foods that you KNOW aren’t really healthy, and are pretty much nothing like how you eat now, but that when put in front of you, you eat until you can’t see straight. You have no resistance. The combination of sugar, fat, and nostalgia are irresistible.
THIS is one of those recipes. We had this molded jello salad at every Thanksgiving, along with a second molded jello salad called, believe it or not, “Orange Calorie Salad”. I have that recipe too. Wink. Perhaps that will be a post for next Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, the orange salad won out, but now, as an adult, the less sweet tang of the cranberries is my favorite of the two.
I’ve searched for the origin of this recipe online, to no avail. Just the fact that the cranberries aren’t cooked is unusual enough. Though you can bet it originally came from a recipe that ran in a magazine or was on the back of a box of jello, or a can of pineapple, or a bag of cranberries or marshmallows. This isn’t a recipe I make every year. I’m a die hard fan of homemade lightly sweetened orange-cranberry sauce with triple sec ala Cooks Illustrated, and that is my usual holiday go-to. Perhaps this year, after turning 50, I’m just a bit more nostalgic than usual, and so I decided to spurge and make this again, after a many year hiatus. I’ve taken a few slight liberties from the original recipe, as its possible that container sizes and availability have changed since the original recipe appeared.
Raw Cranberry Ambrosia Salad
(originally called “Cranberry Molded Salad” ala Beth Kleffner – my step-mom)
Servings: approximately 12 – this will feed a crowd, depending on serving size.
- 1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries, finely chopped in a food processor or put through a grinder (original recipe called for 1 lb)
- 3 cups mini marshmallows, about 2/3 of a 10 oz bag (separate if they are all stuck together in a wad)
- 1 20 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained and the juice reserved
- 1 cup powdered sugar (original recipe called for “sugar”. I’m making an executive decision here to use powdered, since nothing in this recipe is cooked and I worried granular sugar wouldn’t fully dissolve).
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1 3 oz package orange jello (the original recipe called for orange-pineapple jello, but I was unable to find this flavor. I’m not sure its still being made).
Heat 1/2 cup of reserved pineapple juice in the microwave until very hot. Mix in with jello and stir to dissolve. (Original recipe used water, and just said “a small amount” – but I thought this was a good use for the pineapple juice). Let sit for a few minutes to make sure the gelatin is fully dissolved.
Whip the cream until starting to thicken. Add in powdered sugar. Whip until firm. Slowly add in slightly cooled dissolved jello/pineapple juice mixture and mix to fully combine. Fold in drained pineapple, ground cranberries, and marshmallows and pour into a large bowl or traditional mold form. (Where I grew up, we had a couple of mold forms that were only used once a year, for this recipe. They were copper colored, and the rest of the year they hung on nails under the upper cabinets. I opted not to take one when the house was cleaned out and sold, because I don’t believe in owning things you are only going to use once a year, but I do sometimes regret it.) I used a traditional bundt pan, and it just fit.
Given the 2 cups of whipped cream in this recipe, we will NOT be talking about the calorie count!
Miles Away Farm Blog © 2016, where we’re miles away from eating like we did when we were 13, and for Thanksgiving, we are plucking a home grown turkey. We are so so thankful for growing most of the food we eat, buying local when we don’t grow it ourselves, but also allowing enough flexibility in our thinking to occasionally buy a can of crushed pineapple, a box of orange jello and a bag of marshmallows (even though we know Alton Brown has a recipe for making your own). Wishing you all a happy healthy and gratitude filled Thanksgiving.