NZ Woman's Weekly

Retro recipe: Ambrosia

The word ambrosia means “food of the gods” and is often used to describe something very pleasing to taste or smell. Most of us know it to mean an old-fashioned dessert, which usually features oranges and coconut.

In America’s south, ambrosia is traditionally served as part of a holiday meal. We often make this after the Christmas rush on New Year’s Eve. It’s wonderfully easy, but it does rely on freshly grated coconut. Don’t get caught out as we did last year, trooping all over Auckland looking for a coconut.

Many recipes now feature marshmallows and cream, but this is the traditional that Nana would have made. If you like, you could serve with whipped cream or yoghurt on the side.


  • 12 large oranges
  • cups freshly grated coconut (or 1 medium sized coconut cracked open and the flesh grated)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp cream sherry
  • ¼ tsp salt

1 Peel the oranges, making sure you get rid of any white pith.

2 Separate the orange segments, letting any juice drip into a bowl.

3 Once you have all your segments and juice in the bowl, stir in the coconut, sugar, sherry and salt.

4 Leave to sit for at least two hours, preferably four before serving.

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