June 8, 2009

Gastronomica's Marshmallow Fluff Extravaganza

Last month, I was fortunate enough to attend the Marshmallow Fluff forum at the Astor Center. The evening was part of an ongoing series organized by Gastronomica, the wonderful quarterly food journal.

The event itself brought focus to article in the Spring issue of Gastronomica by Katie Liesener which chronicled the evolution of this "food" product in New England and the rather torrid love affair it has experienced in America.

Here are some interesting facts about Marshmallow Fluff that I learned:

~ Marshmallow Fluff was invented in 1917.

~ To this day, Marshmallow Fluff is made in a small factory by the Durkee-Mower Company in Lynn, Massachusetts.

~ New England and upstate New York count for over half of all Marshmallow Fluff sales.

Although I'm not a New England native, I grew up eating the Kraft Foods version of Marshmallow Fluff. For my regular readers, you'll recognize it as the key ingredient in my grandmother's fudge recipe. We also used Fluff to make Rice Krispy treats. To be honest, I don't remember a period of my life when I didn't know what Fluff was. Perhaps my early adoption of the product meant I was destined to move East to the land of Fluff and coastal cities.

Over the course of the panel discussion, the Astor Center provided each attendee with a platter of Fluff delicacies, which included a Rice Krispy treat made with brown butter, a peanut butter and Fluff sandwich (Fluffernutter, for you not in the know), a peanut butter, Fluff, and bacon sandwich, and an unusual combination of a saltine topped with tuna, hot sauce, and of course, Marshmallow Fluff. Although the tuna concoction sounds a bit weird, you couldn't actually taste the Fluff through the overpowering tuna and hot sauce, so it really just tasted as expected. The peanut butter, Fluff and bacon sandwich was probably my favorite - you simply can't go wrong with sweet and savory. It's the world's best combination, in my opinion.

However, the real stand out of the evening was a cocktail designed especially for the event. A take on the classic Aviation, the Astor Center mixologist pre-mixed the maraschino liqueur with Marshmallow Fluff in a blender, and then proceeded with the classic recipe. As someone adventurous when it comes to taste (you should have seen me the first time I was offered haggis - I couldn't wait to try it!), I immediately ordered this special drink. And may I say, it might be my new favorite novelty cocktail. Although the drink itself looked like cloudy water, the taste was incredible, perfect for sipping while I enjoyed the fact that I live in a city that hosts entire evenings dedicated to Marshmallow Fluff.

If you're interested, here is the recipe and "how to" to create the Marshmallow Fluff cocktail at home:

Ingredients (Per each cocktail):
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur, preferably Luxardo, blended with Marshmallow Fluff
1/4 ounce Crème de Violette
Lemon twist, for garnish.

First, blend a healthy amount of maraschino liqueur with Marshmallow Fluff. The final product should be like a normal liquid - not sticky or gummy (Remember: you have to put this in a cocktail shaker at some point!). Combine the gin, lemon juice and maraschino/Fluff mixture in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to chill well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Drizzle the Crème de Violette into the glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Yield: one cocktail.

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