Frozen Fruit Salad

Does everyone already have this recipe? I bet everyone over 50 does and those younger probably got it from their mothers. I would love to tell you this recipe came from a great, great grandmother, but no doubt this frozen fruit salad recipe was in a newspaper or a magazine in the 50's. Or at least that's what someone told me years ago. So often companies like Kraft or Pillsbury printed recipes in magazine or newspaper ads to tempt you to use their food products. (I still give these a glance because some are really good.) At any rate, my mother made this salad every Thanksgiving and Christmas as far back as I can remember. So I really think it might be older than the 50's because I have photographs of this salad on our holiday table when I was a teenager and who knows how long Mother had the recipe before then?

Now it has become a family tradition for my family as it has in many other households. My father adored it, my children insist upon it to this day and no doubt their children will eventually ask for the recipe. It's a cliched old thing; corny even. It looks as though it would be sweet, but surprisingly, it isn't. What with the whipped cream, cheddar cheese and mayonnaise, I would hate to see the calorie count. (I have MasterCook, a food program that figures that all out for me, but I am afraid to check and ruin Thanksgiving dinner for myself.) Serving it twice a year is not all that bad and we all splurge on foods during holidays we would never eat any other time of the year.

Most of us have a recipe for something called Ambrosia; while the ingredients in Ambrosia are somewhat similar (there is more fruit), it's not frozen. I wonder which came first? They came from the same era for sure. I was surprised to discover some frozen fruit salad recipes call for other fruits which really don't freeze well -like bananas, strawberries and even dates; some suggest adding a pink food coloring. I much prefer the recipe exactly the way it was passed on to me: à la natural- kind of pale yellow probably because of the crushed pineapple and pineapple juice. Why would anyone want it to be pink?? That's akin to putting green food coloring in a key lime pie, a gastronomic faux pas of extreme proportions, especially to a southerner. Which I am, sort of.

Well anyway, here it is: the second of my make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes. (The first was the Butternut Squash Soup) This recipe makes enough for 2 small loaf pans (I like the 4" by 8" size) which I find the most convenient way to freeze this; you can fit the smaller pans in the freezer neatly and when you're ready to serve it, just cut the frozen salad into slices. You can get about 6-8 slices per loaf pan, depending on how generous your slices are.

Frozen Fruit Salad

1 can drained crushed pineapple
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
20 maraschino cherries, cut in half
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/4 pound (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 ounces grated cheddar cheese

1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup pecans, ground
1/2 to 3/4 cup whipping cream, whipped
dash cayenne pepper, dash salt

Mix pineapple, confectioners sugar, cherries and marshmallows. Beat cream cheese until smooth and add the grated cheese, then mayonnaise. Beat until well blended. Add cayenne and salt, then fold in the pecans. Add the fruit and then fold in the whipped cream. Pour into wax paper-lined loaf pans, cover and freeze. Serve over lettuce.

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