Classic, fluffy ambrosia in square form! This fun, pink cherry ambrosia is made into squares with a delicious graham-wafer crust.
Today I'm bringing you a fun, festive, pink dessert. It's easy to make, and fun to serve on such holidays like Valentine's day and perhaps Easter, where pastel-hued versions of foods are expected.
What is Ambrosia?
Today's recipe is based on one of my previously published recipes - Tropical Cherry Ambrosia. If you're not familiar with Ambrosia, it's a fluffy, fruit salad-like dessert that commonly features marshmallows and coconut.
It's a bit of a retro recipe, but back in the day you used to find it on dinner plates instead of dessert bowls, and it was called "salad" instead of "dessert". My grandma still made a version of it when I was a kid.
I'm no longer under the delusion that this sweet concoction will supply me with my daily vegetable helpings, and I make it on a semi-regular basis for dessert. It's super quick and easy to mix up, and it lasts for a few days in the fridge.
But sometimes, instead of eating your dessert from a bowl with a spoon, you want to eat it with a fork, in a sliceable form. And I also REALLY like graham cracker crust, so I got the idea to make Tropica Cherry Ambrosia Squares.
When I decided to try making my favorite ambrosia into squares, I knew I couldn't just mix it up and plop it on top of a graham crust. In order for the squares to hold their shape after cutting, and to avoid them making the crust soggy, I'd have to modify the recipe.
I needed to make the ambrosia thicker. In my version of ambrosia, the marshmallows function as the thickener. They absorb the moisture from the pineapple juice and cherry pie filling to make a soft, fluffy texture.
To make these ambrosia squares hold up on a plate, I simply increased the number of marshmallows in the filling. No other modifications required!
I'll admit that I was still a little worried that the moisture from the ambrosia would make the crust soggy over time. However, after even a few days in the fridge, the crust was still dry and crisp.
How to Make Tropical Cherry Ambrosia Squares:
Making these fun, fluffy squares is so easy! Though the filling for the squares is no-bake, the crust does have to bake for a few minutes to get it nice and toasty.
Start with mixing up the filling, which is as simple as dumping the ingredients into the bowl and stirring. When I made this batch, I had to undertake the extra step of chopping up some thawed frozen pineapple in my food processor, as the store was completely out of canned crushed pineapple.
The crust is easy too. Simply turn some graham wafers into crumbs (skip this step if you buy a box of pre-ground graham crumbs), mix with melted butter and sugar, press into your baking pan, and bake for 15 minutes.
Then simply spoon the filling onto the cooled crust, and put the whole thing in the fridge until you're ready to serve.
Tropical Ambrosia Squares Ingredients:
- Canned crushed pineapple: If you don't have any, simply pulse some fresh or frozen pineapple in the food processor until it resembles crushed pineapple.
- Canned cherry pie filling: It's best to use a brand that advertises "extra cherries", but any type will work.
- Frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip): Either regular or light/low-fat/fat-free will work just fine.
- Mini marshmallows: Or cut up regular sized marshmallows if needed, but it's much easier to use mini
- Unsweetened shredded dried coconut: Sweetened works too, but the resulting fluff will be much sweeter (I find it's already quite sweet as it is)
- Graham crackers: Or use pre-ground graham crumbs to save a step
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter: Salted butter works too. It will give your crust a bit of a sweet and salty vibe
Ambrosia Square Variations:
There are lots of variations to making ambrosia. You can use other fruits if you like to change the flavor.
If your family happens to have an ambrosia recipe that you love, simply use it to make ambrosia squares. Note that if your ambrosia recipe has a lot of moisture, it may affect the texture of the crust without modification (read about how I modified my recipe).
Another option to change up this recipe is to replace the graham crust with a chocolate cookie crust. Simply replace the graham crumbs with Oreo cookie crumbs to make a chocolate flavored crust.
Want more Pink recipes?
Tropical Cherry Ambrosia Squares Nutrition Notes:
Note that the nutrition information in the recipe below uses non-fat whipped topping in the calculations. If you use regular whipped topping, the fat and calories in your ambrosia squares will be a little higher.
Tropical Cherry Ambrosia Squares
- 20 ounce can crushed pineapple see note below
- 21 ounce can cherry pie filling (use one with "extra cherries) if you can find it)
- 8 ounces 1 small container frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip), regular or light see note
- 6 cups mini marshmallows about ¾ of a 16 ounce bag
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
- 16 whole graham crackers broken into pieces (see note)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter melted
- Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 325°F.
- Transfer crushed pineapple to a mesh strainer and drain well, saving the juice to drink if you wish.
- Add the drained pineapple, cherry pie filling, whipped topping, marshmallows, and shredded coconut to a large bowl. Stir until mixed well. Cover bowl and place in fridge to chill while you're preparing the crust.
- Place the broken graham wafers in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the food processor until the wafers form uniform crumbs. Add the granulated sugar and melted butter and process until the mixture resembles wet sand, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Press the graham crumb mixture firmly into a 9x13" rectangular baking pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is slightly browned at the edges, and smells toasted. Cool to room temperature.
- Spread the cherry ambrosia mixture evenly over the graham crust. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the fridge to set, at least 1 hour. Cut into squares to serve. Serve chilled.
Nutrition Disclaimer: I try my best to make sure the nutrition information I provide is accurate to provide you with the best information possible. However, due to ingredient discrepancies and other factors, the above nutrition information should be considered an estimation only.