It’s impossible for us to resist retro recipes from the ’60s. You can’t go wrong with homemade meatloaf, beef Wellington or any recipe inspired by Julia Child. But when we saw this Creamy Pineapple Squares recipe in The 1968 Jell-O Pudding Ideabook, we couldn’t help but wonder if this no-bake Jell-O dessert would still be a showstopper on today’s table.
How to Make Creamy Pineapple Squares
Creamy Pineapple Squares begin with an easy press-in graham cracker crust, mixed with chopped toasted walnuts for extra flavor and crunch. Next, Jell-O boxed pudding mix is prepared with pineapple juice and milk instead of water, and blended with cream cheese to make it ultra-rich.
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 package Jell-O Vanilla or Coconut Cream Pudding & Pie Filling
1 cup canned pineapple juice
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cut into cubes
Tools You’ll Need
Step 1: Make crumb crust
Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, walnuts and melted butter until the mixture resembles wet sand.
Step 2: Prepare the pan
Press 2/3 of the mixture into an 8-in. square pan. (For easy removal, line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil first.) Set the remaining graham cracker mixture aside.
Step 3: Mix the filling ingredients
In a large saucepan, whisk together the Jell-O pudding mix with half the pineapple juice until smooth; whisk in the remaining pineapple juice, milk and sugar, then add the cream cheese.
Step 4: Cook the pineapple pudding
Cook the mixture over medium heat while whisking constantly until it comes to a full boil. Remove from heat and, using either a whisk or a handheld electric mixer, beat the pudding until completely smooth. It’s a workout!
Step 5: Assemble the dessert
Slowly pour the pineapple filling over the prepared graham cracker crust, gently shaking the pan to help it settle in an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining graham cracker crumb mixture over the top.
Step 6: Cover, chill and serve
Cover and chill for at least two hours until fully set. Cut the dessert into nine squares and serve.
Here’s What I Thought
Based on taste alone, this recipe was a knockout: creamy, coconutty and irresistible. However, there were a few hiccups in the execution, thanks to the fact that Jell-O pudding packages are slightly smaller than they were back in 1968. This didn’t negatively affect the flavor at all, but as far as texture goes, Creamy Pineapple Squares were way too wobbly to work in an 8×8-in. square baking pan.
This is not an insurmountable problem, though. In lieu of making this Creamy Pineapple Squares recipe in a baking pan, I recommend making this dessert in individual ramekins. Though the original recipe is meant to be cut into nine portions, there is no harm in increasing the serving size to fit a standard 6-piece ramekin set.
If you’d prefer to make Creamy Pineapple Squares in a pan, I suggest freezing it before cutting into squares, then letting those squares thaw in the refrigerator before serving. Alternately, you can boost the jelling power of the pudding mix by adding 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin.
How to Make This Recipe Your Own
Another great thing I realized about this recipe: It’s easy to tweak to make any number of amazing desserts:
To amp up the tropical flavor, replace the milk with coconut milk, and replace the walnuts in the crust with macadamia nuts or shredded sweetened coconut.
The pineapple juice can be swapped with peach nectar, orange juice or any other fruit juice.
To make Creamy Pina Colada bars, replace 1-2 tablespoons of the milk with dark rum.
Once you’ve got the recipe down, feel free to let your imagination run wild!
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The post We Made a Creamy Pineapple Squares Recipe from 1968—and It’s Ready for a Comeback appeared first on Taste of Home.