Edible DIY: Honey Vanilla Fluff

"Messy, sticky, and unabashedly sugary, Fluff never fails to remind me of my childhood."

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[Photograph: Lucy Baker]

Peanut butter and jelly is all well and good, but peanut butter and Fluff is even creamier, gooier, and more indulgent. Plus, making it at home is super easy. All it takes to whip up this honey- and vanilla-flavored version is six ingredients, a big bowl, and an electric mixer.

When I was growing up I would frequently play with a little boy who lived down the street. I didn't particularly like him, or his toys, but his mother always made us peanut butter and Fluff sandwiches for lunch. My own mom, on the other hand, dismissed Fluff as junk food, and never let me have it at home.

Of course, my mom was right. Fluff is junk food, and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to eat it for lunch everyday. But as a special treat it sure does hit the spot. Messy, sticky, and unabashedly sugary, Fluff never fails to remind me of my childhood.

There are many recipes for homemade Fluff out there. Martha Stewart has one for marshmallow cream, but you have to use a candy thermometer and cook syrup to the firm ball stage. It's not hard, but I wanted my Fluff to be drop-dead simple. Another prevalent recipe was much easier to prepare, but it called for a whopping two cups of corn syrup and yielded more than five cups of Fluff—way too much for something meant to be a once-in-a-while treat.

For my initial Fluff attempt, I tried cutting the easier recipe in half. It worked, but the Fluff didn't have enough flavor. It was sweet but far too bland. It just tasted like one-note sugary goo; not marshmallows or vanilla.

Next, I tried replacing all of the corn syrup with honey. It seemed like a good idea: not only would I be giving my Fluff more flavor but I would also be using a more natural ingredient. Unfortunately I forgot that honey is much sweeter than corn syrup. This version was tooth-achingly sugary. I had a hard time imagining even a five-year-old finishing a sandwich made with it.

Finally, I tried combining the two versions. I used one cup of corn syrup and one-fourth a cup of honey. This kept the overall sweetness of the Fluff in check, yet still infused it with floral, complex flavor. I love the way the delicate honey notes in this fluff pair with salty-sweet peanut butter. It is even creamier and gooier than store-bought versions, which (trust me) is a very good thing. It makes for a five-napkin sandwich. The recipe yields about three cups of Fluff. It will keep for two or three weeks stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

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