Ambrosia was ripe for a refresh. I started with pineapple – bright like mandarin oranges, yet, well, not canned – and roasted beets (do roast them, which brings out their sweetness), and mixed the two with grated ginger, raw sugar, and shredded coconut. (You can use unsweetened flaked coconut, but I prefer the sweetened, soft shredded kind for this recipe.) Usually you mix together all the ingredients at once, and then let it macerate for a few hours. In this new-fangled version, I let the fruit and coconut macerate, and finish the rest just before serving. In place of the marshmallows, which can stay in the 70s, I made a whipped sour cream topping that gets spooned on top of the salad and sits aloft like a cloud. As you eat the gently spiced fruit salad, you mix in the cream, lightening it, softening the edges, and bringing ambrosia a whole lot closer to the 21st century. —Amanda Hesser
In a large bowl, mix together the pineapple, beets, coconut, ginger, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Chill for 1 to 4 hours. In a small bowl, whip the cream and remaining sugar to soft peaks. Fold in the sour cream. Season the pineapple mixture to taste with a few small pinches cayenne, and spoon mixture into a bowl. Serve the fruit salad, topped with a generous helping of whipped cream, to mix in as it's eaten.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.