Mile High Ambrosia Pie

Mile High Ambrosia Pie from GF Canteen

It’s always a good day for pie. Ambrosia pie, in fact.  Or mile high pie, as we call this thing. 

Ambrosia, turns out is an old-timey dish that bears little resemblance to today’s concoction. Originally it was a layered dessert starring fresh oranges, fresh coconut and an awful lot of sugar. Oranges were beginning to show up all over the country via railroad and coconuts were arriving by boat (I assume by boat). Ambrosia was a treat.

But then as time went by and specialty food became more available, the lowly marshmallow made its way into Ambrosia. That happened when marshmallow made the leap from stuff in a jar to mini little treats. Pineapple joined team-ambrosia, too.  The folks who began to package that tooth-cracking sweet coconut in a bag made a big deal out of using their stuff in ambrosia instead of fresh coconut. Times, they change and not always for the better, I say. Ick to bags of sweetened coconut that taste like a chemistry experiment gone awry. Unsweetened shredded coconut is preferable.

I like the idea of mixing melted marshmallow with pineapple juice, whipping cream plus sour cream and the remainder of the ambrosia goodies and popping it all into a tasty pie crust. I like the idea of making it a mile-high pie because it’s already over the top – why not just make the whole thing ridiculously treat worthy. Also, the taller the pie, the smaller the pieces so a whole pie will serve many.

Aside from making sure the fruit is drained and everything the right temperatures when mixing, it is the easiest thing to make. It’ll keep and is best served the next day – which makes it a great choice for a holiday or dinner party when the last thing you want to do is make a fancy-pants dessert an hour before people arrive.

Don’t hold back. Pile the filling into that pie crust and own that retro diner dessert, said no one ever. Except here. And we might be biased. A little bit. Want some pie?

Mile High Ambrosia Pie from GF Canteen

Ambrosia Pie
  • 300 grams Canteen flour blend (2⅓ cups) (see notes)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 115 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cubed (8 tablespoons)
  • 70 grams Spectrum shortening (5 tablespoons)
  • 40-60 grams cold water (1/4 to ⅓ cups)
  • 2 small cans crushed pineapple in juice , drained reserving liquid
  • 100 grams or 12 maraschino cherries, cut in quarters (1/2 cup, heaping)
  • One 300 gram can mandarin oranges, drained (about 1 cup)
  • 45 grams finely shredded unsweetened coconut (1/2 cup)
  • 283 grams miniature marshmallow (6 cups or one 10 oz. bag)
  • 120 grams pineapple juice (drained from the cans, ½ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons mandarin orange liquid (from the can)
  • 480 grams heavy whipping cream, cold (1 pint or 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 120 grams full fat sour cream, cold (1/2 cup)
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, salt and sugar together. Add butter and shortening and pulse until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add water a bit at a time JUST until the dough pulses into a ragged smeary ball which takes a lot less water than you think. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours and overnight is better. Roll half the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. Place dough in a 9-inch pie pan and shape to fit, fluting the edge. Keep remaining dough for another pie or freeze, wrapped well in plastic. Chill the prepared pan with dough while the oven preheats. Preheat oven to 350°F. Blind bake pie crust for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before filling.
  1. About 30 minutes before preparing the pie filling, drain the liquid from the pineapple, reserving the liquid. Cut and drain the cherries. Drain the mandarin oranges and reserved 2 tablespoons of liquid. Measure and set aside coconut. Divide marshmallows into 2 cups and 4 cups.
  2. Prepare a double boiler by setting a bowl over simmering water making sure the seal is tight and no steam can escape. Prepare a stand mixer or large mixing bowl to whip the cream and set aside. Over low heat in the double boiler melt 4 cups of marshmallows with the ½ cup of pineapple juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. In a small container sprinkle the gelatin over the mandarin orange liquid and let it set until the marshmallows are completely melted. Once the marshmallows are mostly melted remove from the heat and continue stirring. Add the gelatin mixture and stir to blend making sure no lumps remain. Cool at least ten minutes. In the meantime whip the cream.
  3. In a large bowl or stand mixer whip the cream on low speed with the sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla until it begins to thicken. Turn mixer to high and whip until stiff peaks form taking care not to turn the cream into butter – it happens quickly. Add the cold sour cream to the whipped cream and whip for just a second or two until the mixture is combined.
  4. Fold in the cooled marshmallow mixture using a silicone spatula until thoroughly blended. Fold in pineapple and mandarin oranges. Fold in coconut and 2 cups of mini marshmallows. Last, fold in cherries and mix gently so the ambrosia doesn’t turn pink.
  5. Scoop into baked pie shell piling the mixture high in the center and smoothing it as you go. Sprinkle additional shredded coconut on top, if desired and top with a cherry. Refrigerate and chill before serving and overnight is even better. Keeps almost forever (ok, a couple of days).

Mile High Ambrosia Pie from GF Canteen