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Vintage Pineapple Refrigerator Desserts

My husband, the boy in the Get a Bigger Wagon books, happens to love, and remember, a rich and refreshing refrigerator dessert his mother used to make in the 1950s and 60s. In his mother’s old cookbook, it’s called Pineapple Slice. In those days, refrigerators were more common than air conditioning, so, in summer, people made recipes that could be prepared without heating up the house. Barbequing was all the rage, and setting a table on the patio was fashionable. Salads, and cold meats, were popular evening fare on weekdays.

During this time, packaged ingredients became available, offered shortcuts, and were instantly popular. The Pineapple Slice dessert called for canned pineapple, packaged graham wafers, and icing sugar. The recipe says to bake the crust ten minutes, but that wouldn’t be necessary. Baking improves the flavour, though, because the butter and sugar mixture caramelizes, slightly.  

Initially, I adapted the recipe, because it called for raw eggs in the middle layer. There is a bit of a controversy about eating raw eggs. To read suggestions for properly handling eggs, visit www.getcracking.ca. Historically, I prepared my eggnog with raw eggs, and Gord devoured dozens of pans of Pineapple Slice, raw eggs included. Today, it’s an individual choice. We no longer eat raw eggs at our house. My friend, a home economist, who also taught Food Safety to commercial cooking students, prefers her eggs well cooked.  My husband has Crohn’s, and, today, we take no chances.

I have included three recipes in this column. The first recipe is the original dessert that my mother-in-law made, frequently, every summer. Served ice cold from the fridge, on hot summer days, it created a taste memory for everyone who took a bite. I remember it well. She would whisk it from the fridge, bring it to the patio, and slice it before our eyes. Her apron was always tied, in a nice bow, behind her straight skirt or perfectly pressed pedal pushers.

Pineapple Slice

The Boy’s mom’s original recipe

Crust:

2 ½ cups of graham wafer crumbs

½ cup of butter, melted

Mix and save ¼ cup of this mixture for the top.

Press the rest into a 9” square pan (or 7” by 11”)

Bake at 350° F until brown (10 minutes)

Cool completely.

Middle Layer:

½ cup of soft butter

1¼ cups of icing sugar

2 well-beaten eggs

Cream the butter with icing sugar, until it is smooth. Add the two eggs and continue stirring to form a thick paste. Spread this on the cooled crust.

Topping:

1 cup of whipping cream

1 cup of crushed pineapple, drained until quite dry.

Whip the cream until stiff. Fold in the well-drained pineapple. Spread this mixture over the icing layer. Top the dessert with reserved crumbs. Refrigerate for several hours.

 

In the second recipe, I created an alternative middle layer incorporating Bird's Custard powder rather than raw eggs. My husband loves this new adaptation, and I make it regularly. I have also frozen this dessert, in slices, with great success.  

I made the adapted recipe for my husband’s birthday this year. As they said in the 1950s, “It is easy to impress the man in your life with a simple refrigerator dessert.”

Pineapple Refrigerator Dessert

The Boy’s wife’s adaptation

Crust:

2 ½ cups of graham wafer crumbs

½ cup of butter, melted

Mix and save ¼ cup of this mixture for the top

Press the rest into a 9” square pan (or 7” by 11”)

Bake at 350° F, until brown (10 minutes)

Filling:

2 tablespoons of Bird's Custard Powder

3 tablespoons of milk

¼ cup of soft butter

Beat in 2 cups of icing sugar until smooth

Spread mixture over chilled crust

Chill for 15 minutes

Topping:

1 cup of whipping cream

1 cup of crushed pineapple, drained until quite dry.

Whip the cream until stiff. Fold in the well-drained pineapple. Spread this mixture over the icing layer. Top the dessert with reserved crumbs. Refrigerate for several hours.

 

The third recipe I have included is probably my favourite of the three. It is an old recipe from a Paulin’s cookie pamphlet. It has a delightful, cooked custard layer and maraschino cherries added to the pineapple topping. The eggs are cooked in the custard, the cherries add colour, and the result is company-worthy.
     

Graham Wafer Pineapple Pie

An old Paulin’s recipe

The Crust:

2 cups graham wafer crumbs

¼ teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of sugar

½ cup of butter, melted

Method:

Blend graham wafer crumbs, salt, sugar, and butter with a fork. Turn into a 9” pie plate or square cake pan, reserving ¼ cup of crumbs for the top. Press the crumbs into the chosen pan. Bake the crust in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, Prepare Filling:

1½ cups of milk

¼ cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

Pinch of salt

1 egg yolk, beaten

½ teaspoon of vanilla flavouring

Method:

Heat 1¼ cups of the milk in the top of a double boiler. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt and blend into the ¼ cup of milk that remains.

Add this to the heated milk, stirring until the mixture thickens. Add the beaten egg yolk and vanilla and cook for four minutes. Cool.

Pour over the graham wafer crust. Chill.

Prepare the Topping:

1 cup of whipping cream

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoons of maraschino cherries, chopped

1 can of crushed pineapple, well drained

Method:

Whip the cream until stiff.

Add remaining ingredients and spread over the filling.

Garnish with the ¼ cup of retained graham wafer crumbs.

NOTE: I will be doing a column on double boilers soon. In the meantime, please note that this is a Bowlie or Staybowlizer and it, safely, turns two unmatched pots, or a pot and a bowl, into a perfect double boiler. 

I would love to know if your mom, or grandmother, made some form of pineapple refrigerator dessert, while you were growing up. Do leave a comment! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (7)

  • Karen Hough August 29, 2017 at 04:31 pm

    My mom made this all the time! Like you I made this until the raw egg became an issue. Will try this new recipe for sure!

  • Marion Murawsky August 19, 2017 at 09:14 pm

    Hi Maureen,
    I wish I liked pineapple. As you know, I have never enjoyed it. LOL
    Great blog though!!!!
    Love, Marion

  • sakina madini August 19, 2017 at 02:19 am

    I need to make this pineapple dessert. I have never made this before, but I am familiar with la crème anglaise because my Mom used to make a cake with it.
    Thank you Maureen for sharing this recipe.

  • The Boy August 17, 2017 at 03:10 pm

    Now we have the awesome treats and the air conditioning. Doesn't get any better than that!
    The Boy

  • Tracy Harris August 17, 2017 at 02:46 pm

    Hi Maureen! My grandmother used to make this pineapple dessert and I LOVED it as a child. She often had tea parties at her house and my sister and I would sit in the kitchen, dressed in our prettiest clothes, waiting to be introduced to the ladies having tea in the next room. We were aching to take a bite of our dessert while waiting but managed to restrain ourselves. Years later, in University, a fellow student of mine brought this dessert to one of our potluck dinners and I was thrilled! Thank you for sharing this recipe. Tony is in for a nice dessert treat soon. xx

  • Laurie (Davis)Leblanc August 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    My mom made this all the time. I love it and also have made it many times.
    You can use fat free whipped cream and fat free graham wafers for less calories

  • Helen Davis August 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    I remember my Mom making this recipe many times...either for bridge club, family gatherings....or...."just because". Loved the choices of making any of the three versions. Thanks, Maureen. I think I should eat more of this.."the boy" just never seems to age from birthday to birthday!

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