Every Christmas, the Oppenheimer clan has perfected a holiday tradition started by Bobby’s grandmother, Amma. A dessert salad, charged with citrus and sweet with a playful punch of brandy. The process is strict, but misbehavior (like sneaking a grapefruit wedge into your mouth) is easily forgiven. A family favorite; a family affair. On Christmas Eve day, all helping hands are required, adding more good spirits to the colorful bowl.

Joanne, Jill and Michael poised to begin.
Joanne, Jill and Michael poised to begin.

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Glory glory hallelujah!
Glory glory hallelujah!

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Amma’s Christmas Fruit Salad


  • 1/2 lime (or lemon, though it doesn’t add as much to the colorful confetti of candied rinds)
  • 4 grapefruits
  • 8 oranges
  • 1/2 pineapple (save the rest for munching)
  • 1 quart, or two cups, strawberries or red grapes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 oz. brandy, or more, or less – to taste!


  1. Peel the rind of one orange, being careful not to capture any of the white skin. Slice into slivers. Do the same for half the lime. Set aside.
  2. Peel the oranges and grapefruit, this time being careful not to leave any white skin on the citrus.
  3. Remove the wedges from the casing, much like you do when eating a grapefruit. The key to success is pure pulp, still in tact.Keep going! When you’ve tackled one fruit, don’t forget to squeeze the casing and straggling bits of pulp. It is highly taboo to stick the juicy remnants in your mouth. Every last precious drop must find its way to the bowl.
  4. (Tip: if you store your fruit in the refrigerator, remove about 1 hour prior to prevent your hands from getting frost nipped!)
  5. Cut the pineapple into bite size cube. Add half to the salad bowl and reserve the rest for oh-so-sweet snacking.While we slaved over the fruit, Joanne prepared a Chocolate-Banana cake, which was positively divine! The clever Frisch brothers discovered the frosting bowl for dunking.
  6. In a small pot, bring the sugar and water to a boil on the stove, and reduce to a simmer. Add the orange and lime rind and simmer until the green color fades. As an Oppenheimer rule, when you think it’s ready, let it go for five more minutes!Remove from the stovetop and pour over the salad. Mix well.
  7. The brandy! Get your tasting spoons ready. Add about 1 oz. at a time, and sip the juice to judge its fervor. Remember, it gets stronger over time; by hours and days!
  8. Right before serving, add the strawberries or grapes. They liven up the color and flavor. If you happen to have a Chocolate-Banana cake lying around, it makes the most excellent of partners for this ravishing end to a Christmas meal.

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