I have never been to any Disney theme parks, which gets me surprised looks on occasion. “But Dennis,” everyone says, “You’d love it! There’s so much good food! You’ve got to go to Epcot Center!”
Now that it’s officially spring, people are starting to flock back to Disney World. I will not be among them. All the members of our household of two have already gotten their first vaccine dose, but I am not particularly keen on making myself a possible disease vector just to hug Mickey Mouse. If I got Mickey Mouse sick a lot of people would cry, mainly children, but probably a lot of adults too, especially the sweaty actor inside the costume.
After Mickey, the Disney-related thing that people get most excited about is Dole Whip. I had a knockoff once (I think it was at some sort of street festival) and I recall liking it a lot; it was a silky pineapple soft serve, very smooth, fruity, creamy, and refreshing on a summer day. I definitely see the appeal. Even if I can’t travel this spring, I wanted to at least eat something that would make me feel like I was transported somewhere else, so instead of making Mickey miserable, I have decided to make a Dole Whip, don some mouse ears, and watch a Disney movie at home.
Last year after the pandemic and quarantine really kicked in, Disney released an “official” Dole Whip recipe to make at home in case you were feeling nostalgic for the shuttered parks. It’s very simple and only consists of three ingredients: ice cream, pineapple juice, and frozen pineapple. But something seemed off with this recipe. From other accounts I read, Dole Whip is dairy free. Plus, would Disney really give away the recipe for something so sacred?
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Nonetheless, I began with the Disney-supplied recipe, combining one scoop of vanilla ice cream, four ounces of pineapple juice, and two cups of frozen pineapple in a blender. (Also, I included the above photo of my ice cream scooper because it is shaped like a penguin and I would like you to be jealous of how cool it is.)
Fortunately, one of my pandemic splurges was a refurbished Vitamix, which was significantly cheaper than a brand new one. For the record, it works great and was worth the money. It turns smoothie ingredients into liquid velvet and does magical things to soup. The only downside is that it’s as loud as a chainsaw and I feel guilty using it if my neighbors are home.
The result of this first Dole Whip trial was a pretty good pineapple milkshake that was a little on the icy side. It was fine, but not quite what I was going for. I wanted this thing to be as smooth as suede. (I use that description because I eat suede all the time.)
So I followed my instincts and replaced the ice cream with a substitute: whipped topping, aka Cool Whip. Cool Whip has stabilizers like guar gum and xanthan gum to keep it fluffy and smooth. This is something I’ve always loved about it.
However, Cool Whip is not vegan, nor is it dairy-free. When I was growing up it was labeled “non-dairy,” but in 2010, Kraft added skim milk to the recipe. It also contains sodium caseinate, which is a protein derived from milk. But don’t worry—there’s vegan frozen whipped topping out there, too, and I bet it’s terrific.
Because Cool Whip has so much air in it, I added two big scoops of the whipped topping (roughly a full cup) into the Vitamix instead of one, then blitzed the shit out of it. Afterwards, I took a big spoonful. It was perfect, creamy pineapple goodness, and it had that sort of artificially smooth texture you can only get from processed food—which, in this case, was something I wanted. I didn’t have a soft serve machine to make it look like swirled ribbons, but it really was as smooth as the stuff on tap. If you want the ribbon look, a decorator tip and a piping bag would work; just work quickly so your hands don’t warm up the contents of the bag too much.
The heat generated from the friction of the Vitamix blades did melt the mixture somewhat, and straight from the blender, it was a bit more liquid than I would have liked. But after I popped it into a deli container and put it in the freezer, it firmed up a bit. This is a more ideal consistency for eating with a spoon while sitting around watching Disney movies until we get out of this fucking pandemic. Mickey Mouse can wait a few more months.
Homemade Dole Whip
- 1 cup frozen whipped topping
- 4 oz. pineapple juice
- 2 cups frozen pineapple
Place all ingredients into a blender and process until completely smooth. Enjoy right away, or freeze until firm.