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

Cherry Dessert

In which I explore some literature.

I have this view of Iowans as practical people.  People without a lot of nonsense.  Straightforward, honest, and hardworking.  It’s a stereotype to be sure. But then again, some of those stereotypes are reinforced by literature.  So maybe I’m not totally off-base.

In college, I would take weekend visits to my grandparents’ house.  I usually brought along homework of some sort.  One weekend I brought along a book I was reading for one of my classes.  It was called Making Hay.  Grandpa picked up the book, studied it for a minute and turned to my grandma.  “Dorothy, look at this. Verlyn Klinkenborg.” “Who?” I asked.  “Oh, he used to play with your uncle when they were kids.”  I almost asked if they were sure it was the same guy, but then I realized that the chances of two people having that name were slim.

For Christmas this year, my husband got me the book Prairie Fires since I have been a fan of the Little House books since I was young.   In it, the author discusses both Laura Ingalls Wilder and Hamlin Garland‘s connection to Burr Oak, Iowa.  My grandparents introduced me to Hamlin Garland’s books when I was young.  We went on a tour of his house.  I can barely remember the trip, but my copy of Rose of Dutcher’s Coolly has moved with me for nearly 30 years.  DSCN3362The practical people that named some of these recipes were not nearly as eloquent as the writers which is why we have recipes named things like “Darned Good Candy” and “Cherry Dessert.”

So what is Cherry Dessert?  It’s a nut and cherry filled cake topped with a jammy cherry sauce and whipped cream.  It is delicious and addicting.

 

The first time I made it, I mixed everything up together (with cherries from my trees) and put it into a prepared 9×13 pan.  Before I even got it all into the pan, I realized that I probably should’ve used a smaller pan.  The cake layer was about equal to the whipped cream layer.  The bad part about this was that it took a large piece (or two) to leave me feeling satisfied and the cherry dessert would call my name as it sat in my fridge.  DSCN3368The second time I made it, I had much better results in a smaller 8×8 pan.  I neglected to let the cake cool completely before adding the whipped cream to the top.  The results were a bit runny and messy, but nonetheless incredible.

 

The sweetness of the cake, the tartness of the cherries, and the creamy layer all combine to make a dessert that satiates every dessert craving except chocolate.  It’s cool and a bit crunchy.  This is going to be a staple at my house during cherry season.   Cherry Dessert

Cherry Dessert

1 c sugar
1 egg
1 TB butter, melted
1 c flour
1 t soda
1/4 t salt
1 c sour cherries (reserve juice)
3/4 c nuts

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes

Cool.  Cover with whipped cream.

Heat juice, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 TB flour, 1 TB cornstarch.  Cook until thick.  Add 1 T butter. Chill, spread over cream.