All of us who are old enough to remember vintage food have fond memories of wobbly gelatin filled with strange and wondrous things. Whereas my church potluck eyes could hardly tear themselves away from the shivery towers of mystery I approached actually eating them with extreme caution. And no wonder! Some of these mounds contained onion and strawberries while others made a mockery of childhood by slipping pimentos, olives, garlic, and celery into sacrosanct red Jell-O. More benign jokesters swapped out Cool Whip for cottage cheese and a big blob of mayonnaise. I had to be careful when navigating the molded salad minefield but when successfully navigated the Jell-O table yielded such wonders as Frozen Fruit Salad made with whipped cream. This salad is not actually Jell-O based but it is molded and it kept company with its Jell-O cousins.
I have not had this delight in years. I think many such childhood memories were made without a recipe and when vintage tastes gave way to 1980s gourmet the potluck ladies gave their molds to Goodwill. It was an end of an era. Kids no longer have the challenge of navigating the Jell-O minefield and potlucks have become obsolete in many venues.
I was happily surprised when I found this old friend in a 1957 Culinary Arts Institute publication titled Salads and Salad Dressings. Many of the recipes ought not be tried again. But Frozen Fruit Salad? Now that is a potluck worthy recipe. It is a southern kid style salad with no veggies involved.
Frozen Fruit Salad
½ cup almonds
1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple; drain, reserving juice
½ cup maraschino cherries
1 banana, sliced
8 ounces cream cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise (I used Greek yogurt instead)
1 cup chilled whipping cream
¼ cup granulated sugar
Prepare a 2 quart Jell-O vintage mold or glass baking dish by lightly coating the inside with a mild vegetable oil such as canola or safflower oil. Set aside. It is more reliable to make this salad baking pan or loaf pan. If using a mold then use one with a simple pattern.
Chop almonds coarsely. Set aside.
Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice.
Drain maraschino cherries and then pat dry with a paper towel before quartering them. This will prevent them from turning your Frozen Fruit Salad pink.
Slice the banana.
Gently mix all prepared fruit and almonds in a medium sized mixing bowl and set aside.
Cut 24 marshmallows into eighths. This is easiest to do with kitchen scissors or paring knife that is slightly dampened. The marshmallows will be very sticky and difficult to work with if the knife blade is dry. Drop cut marshmallows into fruit bowl.
In a large bowl beat the cream cheese until softened then beat in 3 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice. Mix in mayonnaise or Greek yogurt.
Gently stir the fruit mixture into the cream cheese and yogurt mixture.
In a separate bowl beat the whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form.
Gently fold the whipped cream into the fruit and cream cheese mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared Jell-O mold or glass baking dish. Place in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight.
To unmold loosen the frozen sides by sliding a thin metal spatula between the salad and pan all the way around. Quickly tip pan onto chilled platter. Tap the pan if it does not easily release.