Thanksgiving is the premier holiday for the Kelly family, and for as long as I can remember my favorite part of the meal has always been Ambrosia. This admittedly strange concoction of coconut, marshmallows, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and sour cream has touched my taste buds like nothing else on the overflowing table.
While I’ve always loved this dish, the sentiment isn’t exactly shared by the rest of my family. Historically, I’ve eaten the lion’s share, sometimes I’m the only one who eats it. When there have been leftovers (and there are every year), I’ve happily taken it home for some post-thanksgiving enjoyment. Last year, the Ambrosia reins were officially handed over to Erin and I.
Originally, we stuck to the basics of Aunt Kara’s recipe, and it came out just as I’ve always remembered. I would call that a success! Starting this year, it’s time for Erin and I to put our own spin on the dish. This time around, we’re sticking to the recipe, but decided to add homemade marshmallows to the mix!
Aunt Kara’s Ambrosia
2 16 ounce containers of sour cream
3 15 ounce cans of mandarin oranges (drained)
3 20 ounce cans of pineapple chunks (drained)
2 10.5 ounce packages of mini marshmallows (Note: We made Alton Brown’s Homemade Mini-Marshmallows. See below for recipe).
21 ounces (approximately 1 1/2 bags) of shredded baking coconut
Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator. Serve cold.
Alton Brown’s Homemade Mini-Marshmallows (Adapted from the Food Network website)
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
For miniature marshmallows: Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into small bite sized pieces using a pizza wheel or sharp chef’s knife dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.