Recipe Redux: Grapefruit Fluff, 1941

by Amanda Hesser
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From the NY Times

ImageThe 1940s were a good time for drinking; eating, however, could be a dicey affair. Grapefruit fluff, published in The Times in 1941, was like a shining beacon in the sea of dull food. When looking for recipe inspiration in the paper’s archives, I moved right on by the date icebox pudding made with evaporated milk and the fruit turnovers that called for canned fruit. (A footnote, which only further proves my point: the original recipe had the uninspiring name “Grapefruit Dessert.” I changed this to fluff, for reasons you’ll understand when you make it.)

This fluff, the love child of broiled grapefruit and baked Alaska, is as joyful as it is unexpected. After assembly, you set the grapefruits in a pan filled with a bed of ice, then send them under the broiler for a quick singeing before the ice and everything else melts. To eat it, you pierce through a crisp, sugary snowcap to discover first a layer of warm, floppy meringue, then a pocket of vanilla ice cream and finally a well of tart and boozy slivers of grapefruit macerating in the grapefruit shell. It’s the perfect impromptu treat: you may already have all the ingredients in your pantry and fridge.

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