Cranberry Fluff

In which I get advice from a coworker.

Isn’t there something so nice about the word “Fluff”?  It’s soft and comforting and towels out of the dryer.  When someone tells you that a “fluff” is on the menu, you know what to expect.  Something soft, puffy, creamy, and cloyingly sweet, perhaps with marshmallows and definitely with whipped cream or Cool Whip.  At nearly any deli counter in America, you can pick up a plastic tub filled with pistachio pineapple fluff.  (Sometimes the salads are called “Ambrosia” instead of “fluff”, but we all know what they mean.)DSCN3235I found this recipe when I was looking for recipes to bring to our friends’ house for Thanksgiving dinner.  I scoured 11 different recipes looking for the perfect dish to bring along with my Cherry Meringue, Pumpkin, and Apple pies.  I asked a number of coworkers for their favorite thing to eat at Thanksgiving and one of them mentioned “Cranberry Fluff”.  I had never heard of it.  When I called my grandma to ask about it, she fondly remembered it as one of her favorites.  How could I not make it after that? DSCN3236As an aside, that was such a good conversation with my grandma.  I love talking to her about her food memories and bonding with her that way.  We chatted for a decent amount of time about the blog.  I hope she knows that she’s really the inspiration for it.

 

I had a few minor modifications.  My apple was sweeter than I was expecting it to be.  The grocery store didn’t have green grapes that day, so I used red ones.  I didn’t read through all the instructions and didn’t let the cranberries, marshmallows, and sugar sit overnight.  I let them sit on the counter for a couple of hours instead.  The purpose of this is really just to soften everything and ensure that there are no big chunks of marshmallow.DSCN3239

 

So the verdict…holy buckets.  This was easily the best fluff salad that I’ve had.  It’s not as sweet and mushy as a lot of fluff salads.  The fruit and nuts add texture.  One of the kids thought the “pink fluff” was better than the “green fluff”.  It was good enough that I didn’t mind eating the leftovers (which were gone before I had to go back to work.)  It made a nice change from super tart cranberries.  It was sort of like a Waldorf salad, but not mayonnaise-y.  DSCN3238All in all, this dish is a keeper.  Get yourself some Wisconsin cranberries and make this one.  I think it’s a better dish than the Cooked Cranberry Salad.  (And in case you didn’t read about it before, the teacup is Wedgwood that I found at the thrift shop for less than $1.  I love the color, I love the pattern, it coordinates with my dining room and the rest of my blue and white dishes.)

Cranberry Fluff

Church Windows and Darned Good Candy

3 Days Until Christmas…

3 Days until Christmas!

Before I even begin with discussion on these recipes, I need to comment about those mini colored marshmallows.  Do they really exist for a reason outside of small children, jello salads, and grandparents? DSCN3523The first time I heard about Church Windows cookies (are they cookies or are they candy?) was after our tree fell on our neighbor’s fence.  It might be the biggest event this neighborhood has seen in a while.  It was such a big event that as we were cutting it down, neighbors from the senior housing facility put out their chairs, plugged in their crockpots, and sat outside to watch.  I treated them to some rhubarb brownies and some chocolate chip cookies.  Some of the men came over to help.  We started chatting about Christmas cookie plates and he told me about the church windows cookies.  I assumed he was talking about stained glass cookies, but when he described them, this was exactly what he meant.  I never expected to find that recipe among my great-grandma’s.  DSCN3526No matter what the recipe says about double boiler, melt the chocolate in the microwave.  It’s so much easier.  Put it in for a minute, stir it after a minute, it might need another 15 or 30 seconds, but it won’t need much more.  Stirring these bad boys is hard.  It’s messy and involved.  DSCN3520Ok, so flavor…think something like rocky road.  But vaguely fruity with coconut.  They aren’t bad, but probably best in small doses.

As for the candy…who in could resist something called “Darned Good Candy”?  I made it wrong the first time I did it.  Use chopped pecans instead of whole pecans.  It makes a difference.  I also learned to not put hot candy on waxed paper.  Guess what happens?  It sticks.  You end up with delicious candy that leaves paper in your mouth.  So these pictures are of the second time that I tried making the candy.  DSCN3522

Darned Good Candy is like a caramel taffy.  It’s stiff and it’s creamy.  It’s got buttery undertones and the pecan flavor permeates the whole candy.  Yeah, it sticks to your teeth, but in the best possible way.  It’s really darned good.

Church WindowsDarned Good Candy

Darned Good Candy

3 cups sugar
1 cup sweet or sour cream
1 cup white corn syrup

Bring ingredients to a boil.

Add 1 heaping cup of chopped pecans and 1 tsp salt.  Boil to a very hard ball.

Add 4 TB butter and 2 tsp vanilla (mix until butter is melted).

Let cool 10 minutes.  Start beating lightly until mixture begins to hold its shape.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased sheet.  (I shaped the warm candy into small oblong pieces).