Take Me Home, Country Road

I knew this day would come. I involved powertools in dinner prep! To make a holiday side dish, no less. Who would have thought?
I’m back in Texas for the week, and I’ve already gorged. More later on shrimp taco salad, my signature guacamole, and the infamous, ubiquitous chile con queso. For now, here’s a quick side dish you can whip up and impress all your friends with–ambrosia.

I will only say this once: ambrosia is not a dessert–it is a fruit salad. You eat it with the meal, not after it.

When I was growing up, ambrosia came from cans and a tub of cool whip. This recipe I took (vaguely) from Alton Brown, and I guess you could say I classed it up. I used all fresh fruit (except the maraschino cherries, of course), although I did use a drill (!) to get into the coconut.

Serves 8-10

½ cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
4 oz. light sour cream (haha, light)
2½ cups mini marshmallows
1 cup clementine segments (for me, 8 clementines)
1 cup pineapple
½ cup fresh coconut, flaked and toasted
½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
½ cup drained maraschino cherries, halved

Oven at 400.

1. The coconut: I bought an “easy-open” coconut, which means it was already scored around the middle, horizontally. If yours isn’t, I think you’ll need to use a knife to dig deep grooves around it, like an equator. Then, the fun part. Use a drill, if you have it, to put three holes in the coconut and shake the juices out. Keep the juice if you want, but I still think it tastes weird. If you don’t have a drill, you can hammer something sharp into it, like a (clean!) nail. Then use the hammer to knock all along the equator you cut. Eventually, internal structural damage will make the coconut just crack in half. Next, toast the halves in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Once cooled, scrape out the meat (it comes out in big chunks), and shred it with the big holes on a cheese grater. Then toast it in a skillet on medium, stirring frequently, until browned.

2. Segment the clementines: Chop the ends (the part with the naval and the other end) off, then sit the clementine flat and cut down to peel. Then make cuts between the membranes to remove skinless, membrane-less segments. Don’t squeeze the juices out, but drain off extra juices before using.

3. Cut the pineapple. Peel with the same method as the pineapple, then make vertical cuts, remove tough core, and chop in ½-inch pieces.

4. Toast pecans in a skillet on medium-high, tossing frequently until fragrant. Pour out on cutting board and chop roughly.

5. Drain and halve the cherries. Now mix the coconut, clementines, pineapples, pecans, and marshmallows.

6. Whip cream with hand or stand mixer. When almost in stiff peaks, add powdered sugar (sift first, if it’s clumpy). Then mix in sour cream for only about 10 seconds (don’t over whip).

7. Mix it all together! Let it sit for 2 hours in the fridge before consuming.


  1. The best water is from green coconuts, the liquid is almost clear & not sweet. The meat is a jelly that is very nutritious. Of course, the correct way to drink it is out of the whole nut with gin.

    1. Haha, yeah. I suspect that Boston isn’t getting the freshest coconuts in the world, either…Soon I will be on a beach drinking a coconut full of gin…I hope.

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