Every year, around the end of January I’m ready for summer. 

I want sunny skies and grilled food. I want to walk through the garden, smell tomato plants growing in the sunshine, and feel warm grass between my toes.

I make the best of it. The temperature may be freezing outside, but I turn up the heat, and find a cozy blanket, and sit in the sun on the floor next to the sunniest window I can find.

During the winter when I was a kid, I would sit in front of our patio door in the sun with a pile of Barbie dolls and a makeshift swimming pool made out of my mother’s turkey roasting pan. I’d put on my swimsuit and get a big beach towel and create a Barbie island paradise. 

My mom would open a can of pineapple (back then we couldn’t get fresh pineapple any time of the year) for me. We’d nibble on the pineapple watching my Barbies laying in their sunshine paradise. We made the best of the unending winter. 

My mother loved the tropics and pineapple. There was always a can in the cupboard. Pineapple was our mini vacation to the tropics.

Now, that fresh pineapple is available any time of year, it’s my first choice. Canned is still a good back up, but there is nothing like fresh pineapple. 

 

Tropical Delight

2 ½ cups of crushed vanilla wafer cookies

2 Tbsp sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

 

For the pineapple filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided

1 tsp vanilla

2 ½ cups of fresh pineapple, chopped or 1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained

12 maraschino cherries

 

Preheat oven to 350. 

In a bowl, combine crushed cookies, butter, and sugar. Press all but ½ cup of the mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Place extra crumbs on a baking sheet and bake both for 12 minutes until slightly golden brown. Cool completely and set aside.

For the filling, in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and 1 ½ cups of the powdered sugar until smooth, with a hand mixer on medium speed, scraping down the sides occasionally. Add ½ cup of the whipping cream and beat for 1 additional minute. Fold in drained pineapple. Spoon over cooled crust and spread over the entire crust evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Before serving, whip the remaining whipping cream and the remaining ½ cup of powdered sugar into stiff peaks.  Add vanilla and whip until mixed in. Spread over the top of the cream cheese filling. Top with remaining baked crumbs, slice, and top each slice with a maraschino cherry; serve immediately. 

 

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes by emailing her at wildchowrecipes@gmail.com.

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