Ambrosia Fruit Salad – Cooking Club 1907

Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Vintage Recipe from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907

I tend to be a perfectionist, to a fault. Only lately have I started to realize that my compulsion to make everything I do “just so” might be more a hindrance than a help. For example, I really wanted to get this post online last night. Reason? It’s a recipe from the May 1907 issue of Cooking Club Magazine, and yesterday was the last day of May. I was determined to get this online in May, as I’ve featured a Cooking Club Magazine each month for the past several months… and I couldn’t skip May. I just couldn’t! But then family came over for dinner, and my husband had the brilliant idea to turn our grill into a pizza oven. As we began to cook I twitterpated about this post for an hour, feeling like an utter failure if I didn’t get it online by the end of the night. But I was surrounded by people that I love, and conversation, and pizza, and wine! And suddenly I realized that none of you would really mind if I post May’s issue on June 1. Heck, you probably wouldn’t even notice the delay. Meanwhile, my weird quest for perfectionism ruined a good hour of my day yesterday with silly, unnecessary stressing. Friends, take note. Perfection is a ridiculous thing to strive for.  #HashtagDeepThoughts. Onward ambrosia!

In April I shared an issue of Cooking Club Magazine from 1907. My May issue is from 1907 as well, and it is filled with just as many entertaining tidbits. A section near the end of the issue includes recipes for fresh pineapple while also mentioning how difficult it can be to remove the fruit from its tough exterior. I found this interesting given that in 1907, Dole introduced pineapple cannery to Honolulu, Hawaii for the first time. Shortly after, they placed ads in US magazines promoting the “exotic” fruit. The recipe I’ll be sharing with you from this issue contains canned pineapple, no doubt a connection to the Dole marketing campaign.

Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Cooking Club 1907

In this issue, once again, we are treated to a menu containing some popular seasonal dishes of the time period. In May 1907 you may have had the opportunity to dine on dried beef in gravy, prune whip, nut croquettes with lettuce salad and Grand-mother’s dried apple pie. Click on the image for a closer look.

Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Cooking Club 1907

On the menu, you might notice a dish called “floating islands”. After reading the recipe I knew it had to be shared. It’s truly mind boggling. It appears to be a dessert made of meringues floating in flavored milk sauce. If any of you decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear about your results!

Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Cooking Club 1907

A column by Fannie Field titled “In Smart Fashion’s Whirl” covers some of the fashion trends of the time, which included embroidered linen parasols, hats trimmed with silk bows and the adorable dresses pictured below. The designs were available through McCalls, the company famous for their clothing patterns.

Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Cooking Club 1907

This intriguing, and slightly disturbing, advertisement for Dr. Whitney’s Nerve and Flesh Builder asks the question “Why Be So Thin?” It claims that the product can develop new flesh to fill out any “hollow places” for a superb figure with a “well developed bust, beautiful neck, pretty arms and shapely shoulders.” I cannot even begin to imagine what this concoction contained, and I’m not sure I want to!

Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Cooking Club 1907

I also got a kick out of this advertisement for a free book titled “Vaudeville State Dancing and Entertaining.” Doesn’t that couple look like they’re having a great time?

Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Cooking Club 1907

The recipe I chose to share this month is called “Ambrosia.” In Greek mythology, the word ambrosia refers to sustenance of the gods, a mythical substance that had the power to make you immortal. Most of us are more familiar with ambrosia salads that contain a sweet, creamy dressing. This sparser tropical version is made by simply layering sugar-topped oranges, bananas, shredded coconut and canned pineapple in a glass dish.

Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Vintage Recipe from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907

Though the recipe is a bit plain, I’ve presented it the way it is written in the magazine. The only change I recommended was using sweetened coconut instead of plain shredded– the plain coconut made the whole salad a bit dry and boring. I think it could be much improved by layering in some kind of sweetened whipped cream or vanilla custard, trifle-style. I even thought about remaking it that way… but stopped myself before my perfectionism took over. I made half the recipe, which made three nice sized individual fruit salads in small trifle bowls. It can easily be doubled to make six servings if you prefer.

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Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Vintage Recipe from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907

Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Adapted from: Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907


  • 3 navel oranges, suprèmed and cut into small pieces - click here to learn how to suprème an orange
  • 2 small bananas, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 6 tbsp sweetened shredded coconut (or use plain fresh shredded coconut as the original recipe states)
  • 1 cup canned pineapple pieces, drained
  • 6 tsp sugar, divided

You will also need

  • small dessert cups
Total Time: 15 Minutes
Servings: 3 individual ambrosia fruit salads
  • Take note that as written in the vintage magazine, this fruit salad might seem a bit "boring." I recommend making a batch of vanilla custard, or perhaps sweetened whipped cream, and layering that in with the fruit for a creamier, yummier dessert. I present it here as written in the magazine, but please feel free to get creative with it.
  • In the bottom of each dessert cup, place enough orange pieces to cover the bottom. Sprinkle the oranges with 1 tsp of sugar.
  • Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Vintage Recipe from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907Top the sugared oranges with 2 tbsp of the shredded coconut.
  • Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Vintage Recipe from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907Evenly cover the top of the coconut with banana slices.
  • Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Vintage Recipe from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907Top the banana slices with 1/4 cup of pineapple pieces.
  • Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Vintage Recipe from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907Continue this pattern once again until the dishes are full. Serve chilled.
  • Ambrosia Fruit Salad - Vintage Recipe from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907

Comments (28)Post a Comment

  1. I may be mistaken but I’m pretty sure floating islands are originally a French dessert (Îles flottantes). I came across the recipe when I was a teenager and made it a couple of times. I happen to love custards so I quite like the dish. Many years later I tried it out on my children and they thought it was gross!

  2. Phillips is correct! It is also known as ouefs a’ la niege
    and is served in a crème anglaise, a light thin custard. It is lovely.

  3. I recently went to Louisville, KY and the luncheonette served a cup of ambrosia as we were seated, as a free appetizer/snack. It was the fruit cocktail variety. Is this typical in the South or KY? I rarely see ambrosia anymore (in NJ) and usually, if anything, diners would get a more savory snack such as coleslaw or macaroni salad before the meal. I loved it!

    1. answer to Herbert Sir-Alan DonnerstagIII
      : It was called a CHARLOTTE RUSSE and even in Brooklyn, it was sold as a treat for youngsters. We had no wooden stick to push up the piece of cake, but the bottom of the cup used to be how we got to the cake. It was wonderful, made with real whipped cream, not from a can!!

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I love doing this too! When I married into his family, my husband’s great aunt saw that I was really into cooking/baking so she gave me all her old baking magazines, which are ao awesomely vintage! When Comedy Central had their roast of Joan rivers a few years ago, I decided to channel old Jewish women & bake some cookies from those magazines and boy! Did they have it right! Except the ads, which are hilarious now & would never fly in any mag today! Thanks for posting Tori! I so appreciate that you respect those who blazed the trail for us!

    1. You are a kindred spirit Lindy! :) Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who gets such a kick out of these things… glad to know I’m not alone!

  5. I had a grandmother who was a hoarder. I used to love to go through her old magazines (tons of them) and find out what they used to do as well. In one of my boxes I have a small book giving instructions on how to be a good wife from the 1920’s. It is a riot for sure!

  6. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Tori … I am absolutely in awe of you on every level. I had to say that before I asked my question. These recipes are great! My birthday is this month and I’m going to serve Ambrosia as one of the desserts when my family is here. My granddaughter will love it.

    I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of Benedictine? I use to have it as a child as a sandwich. One of my girlfriend’s came from Louisville and her mom made this ‘green’ spread for us. It was perfection. I’ve looked it up and I think the origin dates back to the Kentucky Derby which makes sense. No one else has ever heard of it. She’s in her 90’s but she gave me the recipe. For me, it’s a lot of work. It involves removing all the seeds from the cucumbers.
    It would be perfect for a Shabbos appetizer. I was wondering if you ever heard of this dish?

    1. Hi Marjorie! You are very kind. I have heard of Benedictine, but I’ve never made it myself. I will scan through some of my vintage cooking magazines to see if I can find any reference/recipes…

  7. This is how I remember ambrosia being made–it was refreshing because it wasn’t overly sweet and you could taste the fresh fruit. And plain coconut was used, not sweetened. Very little sugar, too. Sometimes a bit of honey.

  8. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Benedictine Spread is a version of a cucumber sandwich and you can do as I and add a thin slice to sandwich rounds that have been spread with the Benefictine if you choose. These sandwiches make great little treats for gatherings. And yes, I live in KY

    by Chef Mark Williams for Brown-Forman Corporation
    This spread can be used as a dip or a sandwich & canapé ingredient. It was made popular at Louisville’s Benedict’s restaurant earlier in this century.

    1 large cucumber
    12 ounces cream cheese, softened
    2 tablespoons grated onion
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 tablespoon mayonnaise
    Pinch of cayenne or tabasco dash
    Green food coloring (optional)
    Pare, grate, and drain cucumber.
    Combine with remaining ingredients in food processor.
    Serve as is or as a sandwich or canapé spread.
    Thin with sour cream to make a dip for vegetables.

    1. Moira, me too! I’ve been collecting them for a while, they are kind of difficult to track down. I just keep my eyes peeled for them at antique stores, vintage bookshops and on eBay. Good luck!

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