Ambrosia Pie

Turn the beloved flavors of this sweet Southern salad into a festive dessert.

Ambrosia Pie
 
Makes 1 (10-inch) pie
Ingredients
  • 12 sheets honey graham crackers
  • ⅔ cup lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut
  • ⅔ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup plus 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1½ cups cold heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cup chopped pineapple tidbits, drained and patted dry
  • ¾ cup chopped mandarin oranges, drained and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup warm water (105° to 110°)
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1½ tablespoons cherry gelatin
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cups halved stemmed maraschino cherries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine crackers, coconut, pecans, and 5 tablespoons granulated sugar; process until uniform in size. Add melted butter; pulse until evenly combined. Firmly press cracker mixture into bottom and up sides of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet.
  3. Bake until set, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar with a mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Slowly add cream in a slow, steady stream. Once all cream has been added, scrape down sides of bowl. Slowly increase to high speed and beat until thickened and smooth. Fold in pineapple and oranges. Spread filling over prepared crust. Refrigerate.
  5. In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, salt, and remaining ½ cup granulated sugar. Pour in ½ cup warm water and corn syrup, whisking until smooth. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Let boil for 5 to 6 minutes, whisking occasionally (mixture will be thick). Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin, lemon juice, and vanilla. Pour mixture into a heatproof bowl, and fold in cherries. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Pour cooled cherry sauce over filling. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Notes
Don’t be afraid to refrigerate this pie in your cast-iron skillet, which will keep it cooler for longer when serving.