Posted by: Erica Retrochef | June 22, 2009

Picnic Day: Fruit Cocktail Meringue Pie!

I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing

  • Apple pie with a dutch crumb topping (Miranda @ A Duck in Her Pond)
  • Buttermilk spice cake (Mary @ One Perfect Bite)
  • Chocolate cherry pie
  • Dilly Potato Salad (Gloria @ Cookbook Cuisine)
  • Election Day Cake
  • Fruit Cocktail Meringue Pie
  • For the letter “F” recipe, I had a dish in mind that I had bookmarked a while ago. (I could probably manage almost any letter of the alphabet, including Q — my “to cook” bookmark folder has something like a hundred retro recipes, with varying levels of ewww). So on Sunday, I cheerfully pulled up the bookmark for what I had labelled as “Fruit Cocktail Meringue Pie”, and realized the recipe name was actually “Christmas Meringue Pie.”Whatever. I’m BRINGING fruit cocktail meringue pie, that’s all I know.

    This recipe comes from Flickr, from a vintage advertisement unsettlingly titled, “Look what you can do with fruit cocktail and dairy foods!”
    Look what you can do

    Fruit Cocktail Meringue Pie: Combine 1 envelope Knox gelatine, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp salt in top of double boiler. Stir in 3/4 cup syrup from fruit cocktail, 2 beaten egg yolks. Cook over boiling water, stirring often, 15 minutes, till slightly thickened. Remove from heat, stir in 1 cup commercial sour cream, 2 tbsps lemon juice. Cool till thickened. Fold in 1-1/2 cup drained canned fruit cocktail. Turn into baked 9-inch pie shell. Top with Marshmallow Meringue. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Chill 2 hours or longer.

    For meringue: melt 16 marshmallows with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp syrup from fruit cocktail, over low heat, stirring often. Cool. Beat 2 egg whites with 1/4 tsp salt till stiff. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Fold in marshmallow mixture.

    I didn’t expect this to be complicated by just glancing over the recipe, but it turns out to require double-boiling a custard, chilling for a couple hours, melting marshmallows, and beating egg whites. Rather like Election Day Cake, there’s a lot of effort required — the question was whether it would pay off in the end.

    A zabaglione is a very fussy egg-yolk custard, requiring stirring in a bowl over steam (or using a double boiler, if your kitchen is so endowed) until your arm falls off or the mixture thickens. I was rather surprised to see it showing up in a fruit cocktail pie recipe, particularly including gelatin and then being added to sour cream; it seems with thickeners like that, you wouldn’t really need to cook your egg yolk until it solidified. I suppose they did that just to put the separated eggs to full use or something.

    Note my ultra-fancy, incredibly upscale double boiler. (I don’t recommend trying this if you don’t have a Pyrex bowl, though.)


    Putting a tasty zabaglione in with sour cream just feels wrong somehow, but for the moment I’ll trust the recipe…

    Zabaglione and sour cream?

    Melting marshmallows is fun. We also have a recipe for grasshopper pie which requires marshmallow melting, and it’s great to see them slowly shrinking and turning to thick goo.

    Melting marshmallows

    After assembly, chilling, and a sprinkling of coconut, it looks really impressive.


    Piece of Fruit Cocktail Meringue Pie

    It’s a little on the sweet side, and definitely very firm (which means it will stand up well to being in summer heat for our picnic). Overall, it’s tasty and fun. Would I want to make it again… maybe for a special occasion. (The ice cream Jell-o pie is a lot less work, albeit also a lot meltier.)



    1. So, it turns out I’m 3 letters behind you! Louise sent me your link. I’m bringing ice cream in a bag, which just sounds wrong, doesn’t it? “See” you there!

    2. Ice cream… in a bag? Well I’m definitely interested 😀

    3. Wow, that actually looks yummy!

    4. Oh you guys, comparing dishes before the picnic. No fair…

      Erica, did you see the comment T.W. from Culinary Types left? I’m particularly intrigued by the fruit cocktail meringue cake! You left with us looking for more and we thank you…

    5. Hi Erica,
      Just dropped by to “grab” this link to include in a post I did for Can-Opener Day. It was so nice to be reminded of the wonderful picnic we had this year.

      I hope we have another next year…

    6. OK – I just found your site and I love it!!! So…my mom used to send me recipes like this – some were downright disgusting! The last one I allowed her to send me contained fruit cocktail, kidney beans, diced red onion and diced red bell pepper. The kicker was…it was served HOT! I couldn’t even make myself make it!!!

      Some of these I’ll try – most I’ll just reminisce about…since this was the only way my mom cooked!

    7. […] I find funniest about this recipe is that I’ve actually made a fruit cocktail meringue pie before, way back in 2009. And I had completely, utterly forgotten about it — until I Googled for […]

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