Metro-East Living

5 ideas for fluff dessert ‘salads’

Banana Split Fluff Salad has just about everything you’d want in a sweet dessert, minus the ice cream.
Banana Split Fluff Salad has just about everything you’d want in a sweet dessert, minus the ice cream.

When Brittany Volk was growing up, she was introduced to dessert “salads.”

What is a dessert salad? It’s a child’s delight, said the food writer for the Tampa Bay Times. Made with some combination of gelatin, whipped topping, pudding mix, canned fruit and marshmallows, it comes in lovely shades of pastels. Sometimes we call it fluff salad, but salad it is not.

This sweet glop is a common side dish at potlucks and parties in the Midwest. When she brought a bowl to work in Tampa, some of her co-workers grimaced.

“But when I posted a photo of that bowl on Instagram, it became my most-liked photo of the year so far,” she wrote.

Given the extreme summer heat, she thought it would be a good time to introduce readers to these fluffy indulgences. They’re easy; no baking necessary. The hardest part is waiting for them chill before diving in. These five ideas go beyond the typical ambrosia salad.

Orange Fluff Salad — Let’s start with a classic: Tiffany’s grandmother’s favorite recipe. Combine 1 box orange Jell-O mix, 1 box tapioca pudding mix and 4 cups boiling water in a large bowl. Put in the fridge until set. Once set, fold in 1 (8-ounce) container thawed Cool Whip, 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, not drained, and 1 (8-ounce) can drained mandarin oranges. Refrigerate again for 2 to 3 hours before serving. Recipe from Rose Veenhof of Edgerton, Minn.

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad — Start with 6 small apples, a blend of Granny Smith and Red Delicious, and core and chop them. Cut 6 full-size Snickers bars into bite-sized pieces. Whisk together 1 box instant vanilla pudding mix and 1/2 cup cold milk in a large bowl. Fold in 1 (12-ounce) container thawed whipped topping, chopped apples and Snickers and 1 cup mini marshmallows. Drizzle 1/2 cup caramel sauce on top and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 12.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fluff Salad — Sweet and salty, this salad satisfies a crowd. In a large bowl, beat together 4 ounces cream cheese, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 2 tablespoons grape jam and 1 tablespoon milk. Gently stir in 2 cups mini marshmallows and 2 cups red seedless grapes. Fold in 1 (8-ounce) container thawed Cool Whip until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 1 hour. Garnish with sprinkles, extra marshmallows and crushed peanuts. Serves 6 to 8.

Banana Split Fluff Salad — Serve this salad with graham crackers for dipping. Mix together 1 box instant banana pudding mix and 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, not drained. Stir until dissolved and thickened. Fold in 1 (8-ounce) container thawed Cool Whip. Gently stir in 1 cup mini marshmallows, 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, 2 sliced bananas and 1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, halved. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to chill. Garnish with more chopped walnuts. Makes about 8 cups.

S’mores Cheesecake Fluff — Guests will definitely want s’more of this fluff. (Sorry.) In a bowl, mix together 2 (8-ounce) blocks softened cream cheese and 1 cup powdered sugar until combined. In another bowl, heat 10 ounces marshmallows and 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave on high in intervals of 30 seconds until melted. Immediately add to cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 2 cups heavy whipping cream and beat on high for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Once cheesecake has cooled, break 1 package graham crackers into small pieces and toss into the mixture. Chop 3 Hershey chocolate bars and stir into cheesecake mixture. Serves 8.

Watch a how-to video on making homemade marshmallows, the perfect companion for your hot chocolate.