We served an incredible fruit fluff made with homemade marshmallows folded with sweetened fresh strawberries from Green Door Gourmet as the big finale to the historic Sadie LeSueur dinner at the Cheekwood Botanical Garden in Nashville. It works with all kinds of fruits, even fresh frozen. This fruit fluff is based on the old-fashioned creamy fluffy fruit dessert/salad concoction often called fluff or heavenly hash, a blend of chopped fruits and mini marshmallows. Occasionally a dollop of mayonnaise is added which creates the sweet-savory taste of the past.
No old American community cookbook is complete without some version of the recipe. It’s the mayonnaise that nudges creamy fruit desserts into salad territory. These “salads” served right along with the main meal usually relied on year-around canned fruits and fresh bananas. The popularity of the banana in the South can be traced to the Twin cities, Fulton, KY, and South Fulton, TN, where in the late 1800’s South American bananas started traveling in refrigerated railroad cars from New Orleans with a stop in Fulton for re-icing—the last ice house before Chicago.
It’s a killer recipe that may seem dated, but will be gone in a flash at any pot luck. Pot lucks are great focus groups for the creative home cook. Good or bad, you always get some useful feedback.
But let’s not stop there. When updating the recipe for our big fundraiser dinner at Cheekwood, it occurred to me that my old home ec homemade marshmallow recipe would be so much better. I like mini marshmallow, but there’s something a little bit plastic tasting about them. And guess what, making a pan of real marshmallows is fun and easy. You just need a good mixer and a candy thermometer. Yes, a candy thermometer. Don’t be intimidated. All you have to do is stick it in the syrup and read the temperature. You can do that.
I know we’re all trained to think they have to be manufactured by Kraft, but they don’t! I promise this updated fruit fluff will simply BLOW YOU AWAY. It’s definitely dessert, not a salad. In fact, a very showy dessert. Serve the fluff in a mountain on a platter with torn chunks of Angel food cake or neat squares of Buttermilk Pound Cake Squares. A big platter in the middle of the table will allow everyone to get just a bite more.
- 8 cups assorted cut fruits such as bananas, pineapple, grapes, peaches, mandarin oranges, cherries, apricots, strawberries chopped cranberries, apples, and pears.
- 3 cups mini marshmallows
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
- ½ to 1 cup mayonnaise, optional
- Sugar, to taste
- ½ to 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
- ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut, optional
- Combine the fruits and marshmallows in a large bowl.
- Stir in the cream and mayonnaise. Sweeten to taste.
- Stir in the nuts and coconut, if using.
- Chill several hours or overnight.
- 1 recipe homemade marshmallows
- 2 cups heavy cream, whipped until fluffy and stiff
- 4 cups sliced strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or peaches or a combination of any
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup sugar
- Combine the fruit and sugar to taste in a large bowl. Allow it all to macerate.
- Place the whipped cream in a large bowl.
- Tear the marshmallows into bite size pieces into the whipped cream and blend well.
- Fold in the fruit and as much of the juice as you like. Chill until serving time.
- Serve in fluffy mountains on dessert plates accompanied by cookies, shortbread, poundcake or angel food cake.