Monday, November 12, 2012

Remembering Hanscom's: Baked Pineapple Dessert Squares

Can't wait until it cools!
Back in the Stone Age of my youth, there used to be a bakery chain in the Philadelphia area called Hanscom's. My father used to pass one on his way home from work, and at least once a week, some sort of deliciousness from Hanscom's would appear for dessert after dinner. They went out of business in the early 1980s, but the memory of their goodies lives on. My favorite was something my mother called "Hanscom's pineapple cheese pie", which I don't think was the correct name, but, boy was that good. It  was square, with a bottom crust, a layer of pineapple and a layer of a tender,  sweet, custardy cheese topping. It was dusted with cinnamon. It was divine. Sad that another Philadelphia icon is gone.

About 5 years ago, here I am hanging around a Weight Watcher's recipe board, and I found posted a recipe for a bake pineapple dessert that everyone is raving about. It used sugar free pudding mix that you had to cook with other ingredients, and then bake. I tried it, and it was quite tasty. Even Chuck liked it. The good thing was that the flavor somehow reminded me of that wonderful Hanscom's pineapple cheese thing. The bad thing is that using pudding mix adds artificial sweeteners and various other additives to my food that I would prefer to avoid. 

I came across canned crushed pineapple in juice on sale last week at the market, and it dawned on me that I could make a naturally sugar free, dairy and gluten free version, and that dusted with cinnamon, it would be awfully close to the pineapple pie of my childhood dreams. It turned out perfect. While this is a crustless version, I am not willing to forego serving it with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Even if you are not dieting, avoiding sugar, dairy or gluten, and were not lucky enough to grow up within range of a Hanscom's Bakery, I think you'll just love this sweet treat.
As good as I remember!
Baked Pineapple Dessert Squares
Serves 6


1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple in juice, drained well and juice reserved
2T cornstarch
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
1/4 cup soy or coconut based coffee creamer (or 1/2 &1/2)
1/2 cup granular erythritol
1/8 tsp. powdered stevia
1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
1T vanilla extract

Cinnamon to dust over top, about 1 tsp.


1. Spray an 8" or 9" square pottery or glass baking dish with cooking oil spray. Set aside, and preheat the oven to 325ºF.

2. To a blender container, add the pineapple juice, the cornstarch, eggs, creamer, erythritol, stevia, nutmeg and vanilla. Whirl until well mixed. 

3. Place the juice mixture into a medium saucepan, add the reserved pineapple, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until it just begins to boil, and thickens.

4. Carefully pour the hot pineapple mixture into the prepared baking dish, and sift the cinnamon evenly over the top.

5. Place the an in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, until the middle is slightly firm and no longer jiggly. Cool on a rack, and then cover and chill. Serve cut into squares, topped with whipped cream, or the dairy-free topping of your choice.


  1. It was Pineapple Cheese Cake, in a foil tray. I was a part-time cashier after school from 1975-1977 at the store at Bridge & Pratt and my mother was the manager.

    This was one of my favorites!

    1. That's exactly it! Now that you mentioned the foil tray, I can practically taste it in my mind. Thank you for remembering and posting!

    2. My mother managed that store in the forties. I remember the cupcakes with a lemon filling and powdered sugar on the top. Her name was Mildred Kuhn. We had many goodies from there, not the leas of which were the Sticky Buns.

    3. Oh, the sticky buns. So many of the good places are long gone. Thank you for sharing your memories, too. Delicious!