Acine De Pepe Ambrosia Salad

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On New Years this year, my wife and I visited with family friends. For dessert, one of the options was called “acine de pepe salad,” essentially an ambrosia salad with cooked acine de pepe pasta. It was a family recipe of a relative that had passed away, but they had not been able to replicate the dish despite having the recipe. So, I said that I would give it a try and send some up for Easter.

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The directions are simple and kind of vague. There was a lot of fruit juice (some of the cans in the grocery store had more fruit than in the recipe), so I reduced it for longer than implied in the recipe. The recipe also seemed to describe a custard, which I think can be a difficult step. But this can also be hard with egg whites, so I only used yolks and added two extra egg yolks to keep the same liquid volume. Other than those two tweaks, I didn’t make any other changes.

The reviews were quite positive. My wife tried some of it (she wouldn’t eat any at New Years), and she liked it so much that only half of the recipe made it to our friends despite already having two other desserts for our own Easter dinner. Our friends said that it was soooo creamy and that everyone was scooping it directly from the bowl.

ACINE DE PEPE AMBROSIA SALAD
An original recipe. The recipe made enough to fill a 9″ x 13″ pan.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup acine de pepe pasta
11 oz. can mandarin oranges
20 oz. can pineapple chunks
24.5 oz. jar tropical fruit
10 oz. jar maraschino cherries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 egg yolks, room temperature
8 oz. cool whip
1/2 bag mini colored marshmallows

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, then rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. Drain fruit juices into a medium sauce pan and place fruit in refrigerator. In a small bowl or cup, whisk egg yolks.
  3. Add sugar to fruit juices and bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Add flour and salt, then remove from heat to cool.
  4. When sauce pan is warm to touch, temper the eggs by adding a few spoonfuls of the fruit mixture. Pour egg mixture into the sauce pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture coats the back of a spatula (temperature should not be high enough to scramble the eggs, but low enough to cook).
  5. Pour “fruit custard” over the pasta. Marinate in the fridge overnight (four hours would probably work too).
  6. In the morning, thaw the cool whip, then add fruit, cool whip, and marshmallows. Stir well to combine. Keep refrigerated until it is time to serve.
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