Pineapple Icebox Cake

Pineapple Icebox Cake
Ingredients

For the Filling:
1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-1/2 cups milk
1 small (4-1/2 serving size) instant lemon pudding
1 (8 ounce) crushed pineapple, drained
1 (8 ounce) tub whipped topping (like Cool Whip), divided
1 (11 ounce) box vanilla wafers (Nilla brand recommended)
Garnish (optional):
1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
1 (8 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, well drained
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Instructions
For the filling, cream the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice and gently blend. In a mixer bowl, beat the milk and pudding on medium, or by hand with a whisk, no longer than 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened. You do not want to overbeat the pudding. Fold by hand into the cream cheese mixture along with the crushed pineapple and 1/2 of the whipped topping; gently blend. Cover and return the remaining whipped topping to the fridge.

Spread a couple of spoons of the pudding filling in the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch square, 2-1/2 inch or deeper, glass baking dish and top with one layer of vanilla wafers. Pour 1/3 of the pudding mixture carefully on top of the vanilla wafers and add another layer of cookies. Continue layering with another 1/3 of the pudding mixture, another layer of vanilla wafers, and spread the remaining pudding mixture over the top. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24.

Before serving, spread the remaining layer of cool whip on top and garnish with coconut, nuts and cherries, if desired. May also serve with individual garnishes and whipped topping on slices.

Cover and store any leftovers in the refrigerator. Double for a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Cook's Notes: This recipe calls for sweetened, condensed milk. Do not use evaporated milk! Lower fat and sugar free products may be substituted, as well as other flavors of instant pudding, such as cheesecake or vanilla.

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