A few years ago, my mom got sick on Christmas. At that point, I had done a lot of baking and could cook a few dinner items (rigatoni, chicken tacos and spaghetti with tomato sauce, basically), but preparing an entire Christmas dinner was a little daunting. Luckily, my mom had already bought a ham and had all the recipes she was going to use ready. So, with a little help from my brother (whose idea of cooking is putting a frozen pizza in the oven), I got it done and it even turned out really well.
One of the items we made that year was a mixture of cranberries, Granny Smith apples, marshmallows and Cool Whip. It was an immediate favorite. My brother and I started calling it “crapple,” but my mom hates that name, and it doesn’t sound very appetizing. So let’s call it cranberry-apple fluff.
We usually serve this as a side dish, but it could also qualify as a dessert. And, as an added bonus, it’s pink.
You should always rinse the cranberries before using them, and pick through them to discard the random stems and shady berries that get in there. Cranberries also freeze really well (I have been known to buy five bags and freeze them all for later, since they aren’t available in stores for that long), but if you are using frozen berries for this recipe you may want to let them sit for 20 minutes or so after rinsing so they aren’t frozen solid when you try to chop them in the food processor.
Go ahead and put the cranberries in a bowl and mix in the sugar as soon as they’re chopped, so the sugar and berries can start mingling. The sugar will also pull some of the juice out of the cranberries (which is a good thing).
One of the things I like about this recipe is that you don’t have to peel the apples. You can chop them up any way you want, but since I have this apple slicing thingy I used that, then cut the slices into small pieces.
You don’t have to cut the apple pieces that small if you don’t want to. I just like to cut them small so the apple is evenly distributed.
The cranberry, apple and sugar mixture should sit for at least 20 minutes before you mix in the marshmallows and Cool Whip. But the marshmallows will start disintegrating in the sugar and fruit juices pretty quickly. I was making this for just Toby and I, so I split the fruit mixture in half-ish and just added the marshmallows and Cool Whip to that half. I put the rest of the fruit mixture in the fridge overnight and made the rest the next day. If you are not planning to serve this right away, I would suggest the same: make the fruit mixture and refrigerate it, then add the other stuff right before serving.
Now, I know that Cool Whip is made of hydrogenated oil and high-fructose corn syrup and lots of other ridiculous things. But I really don’t know if real whipped cream (which would be much more fattening) would hold up in this recipe. I doubt it. Plus, come on. This is a “salad” that involves marshmallows. No one is expecting it to be organic and locally sourced.
Cranberry-apple fluff (Makes 6 large portions or 12 side dish portions)
1 bag cranberries
2-3 Granny Smith apples
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 2 cups mini marshmallows
8-ounce package Cool Whip (light is fine)
Rinse and pick through cranberries. Place them in a food processor or blender and process until chopped. Pour into large bowl and add sugar. Stir and set aside.
Rinse and chop apples into small pieces. Add apple pieces to cranberry mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
Just before serving, add 1 1/2 cups marshmallows and about 6 ounces Cool Whip and stir to combine. Add additional marshmallows and whipped topping if desired.