A few years ago, Srini and I were visiting my cousin and his family in Seattle. They were moving to a new neighborhood and we spent a sunny spring day wandering through it exploring the shops and restaurants that were scattered throughout. We found a restaurant called Homegrown that had soup and sandwiches and seemed to be the perfect place to stop for lunch. We all scanned the menu, and ordered sensible meat-cheese-greens type sandwiches. But, we saw a sandwich that we were intrigued by: the bluffernutter. It was described as a fluffernutter with bacon. None of us had ever had a fluffernutter before, but as I’ve mentioned before, the siren call of smoked pork with sugar won out. We ordered it, telling ourselves it was for the kids. My poor niece and nephew only got 1 bite each, because we adults scarfed it all down! It was delicious: the sweet creaminess of the marshmallow fluff, the creamy saltiness of the peanut butter, and the crunch and smoke of the bacon were intoxicating. We ordered another…and maybe another. I told myself that we would have to recreate it once we got back to Portland. I can’t believe it’s taken this long! If you are in the Seattle area, I’m sorry to say that the bluffernutter is no longer on the menu at Homegrown, so it looks like you will need to make it yourself!
To make this sandwich, I decided to use my challah. It’s such a delicious, rich bread with its own natural sweetness, I thought it would work quite well. I also borrowed some inspiration from my all time favorite food truck/best food ever in Portland, Carte Blanche (soon to be restaurant!). They make an unbelievably delicious pecan praline bacon to put into many of their sandwiches, and I thought the nutty crunch and sweetness would take this rich dish over the top. The bacon is very simple to make. You simply partially roast the bacon on a baking sheet, then cover it with brown sugar and pecans and finish it in the oven. The end results is crunchy, sweet, salty, bacon candy. I recommend making a few extra slices. It’s hard not to wolf it down.
I consulted several different recipes to learn how to make marshmallow fluff. Most recipes relied on making an Italian style meringue and whipping it until glossy and creamy. That’s exactly what I did here.
Meringues work because of the magic of egg whites. When egg whites are agitated their proteins unfold and reorganize into a network. When you whip egg whites, you add air to that network and the bonds develop around bubbles. The longer you beat, the finer these bubbles become and the more stable the beaten egg whites become…until a point. If you beat too long, the proteins will bond too closely, and this ultimately forces the water out and you are left with a watery mess. If you’ve ever wondered why meringue recipes call for cream of tartar it’s because cream of tartar is the salt of tartaric acid, and adding an acid to the meringue can prevent the watery mess by inhibiting the sulfur-sulfur bonding that forces water out. It does this by adding more hydrogen cations (H+) into the mix, thus inhibiting the reaction that causes the sulfur-hydrogen bond to be replaced by a sulfur-sulfur bond. I think this is helpful to know, because I never have cream of tartar at home, so really any acid will do the trick. That’s why I used lemon juice!
Adding sugar to a meringue creates more stability, but if it’s added in the beginning it can make it harder and take longer for the egg whites to reach peak loftiness. But once it does, the meringue can be remarkably stable. Italian meringues are made by heating up sugar (in this case sugar and corn syrup) and then drizzling it into semi-stiff peaked egg whites. The egg and sugar mixture is beaten until glossy and creamy and utterly delicious.
A quick word about corn syrup: the type of corn syrup you get at the grocery store is not the same as high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup is regular corn syrup that has gone through an enzymatic reaction to make it much sweeter than normal corn syrup. Regular corn syrup is made from an enzymatic reaction in corn starch. It is valued because it’s really thick and has long molecules that help to prevent crystallization. This is why it’s great in candy and ice cream and this marshmallow fluff!
To help make the sandwich extra delicious, I pan fried the challah on both sides in butter. I layered on peanut butter to one side, marshmallow fluff to the other, and gave it a little torching with my blowtorch. I personally am a huge fan of burnt marshmallows, so I wanted to add a bit of that flavor into the sandwich. Then, two pieces of bacon were smooshed inside, and, well, it was just absolutely delicious. I hope you enjoy this decadent and delicious sandwich!
Fluffernutter with Homemade Marshmallow Fluff and Pecan Praline Bacon
|Prep:||Cook:||Yield: 4 sandwiches||Total:|
A decadent brunch sandwich with vanilla marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and sweet and salty pecan praline bacon!
- For the Marshmallow Fluff (please see note):
- 150 g corn syrup
- 150 g granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 big pinch of salt
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- For the Pecan Praline Bacon:
- 10 strips thick cut bacon
- 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pecans, chopped coarsely
- For the sandwiches:
- 8 thick slices of challah (if you want to make it from scratch, search my blog for the recipe!)
- Butter for panfrying
- 1/2-1 cup Peanut butter
- Make the bacon:
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a grate into it. Place the bacon on top in a single layer. Place in the oven, and cook until slightly brown and some fat has rendered, roughly 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar in an even layer on top. It should thoroughly cover the bacon. Sprinkle with the pecans and place back in the oven. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. Check on it periodically, and if it is browning too fast, reduce the heat to 375. While the bacon is cooking make the marshmallow fluff. Once brown and crisp, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Make the Marshmallow Fluff:
- Put the egg whites and lemon juice into the bowl of your stand mixer. Turn on to slow until the egg white are slightly frothy, then increase to medium speed until the egg whites reach soft peaks. While the egg whites are getting to soft peaks, start making the syrup. Keep an eye on the egg whites, though! Stop the mixer once they hit soft peaks.
- Stir together the sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Monitor the temperature using a high temperature instant read or candy thermometer. Bring to a boil and give it the occasional stir. Monitor the temperature until it reaches 240F.
- Once it has reached 240F, turn the mixer down to low and slowly and carefully drizzle a small amount (1-2 Tbsp) of syrup in. Don't dump it all in, otherwise the egg mights might cook and become a sweet egg white scramble. Let that small amount incorporate and repeat 1-2 more times. Then, increase the speed to medium and very slowly drizzle the rest of the syrup in.
- Once it is all in, turn the mixer up to high, drizzle in the vanilla, and beat until the eggs are shiny, glossy, and thick. Set aside.
- Assemble the sandwich:
- Heat a skillet over medium heat until warm. Melt a pat of butter in the skillet until it starts to foam. Place as many slices of challah as can fit into the pan without overcrowding it. Depending on how many sandwiches you make, you may need to do multiple batches.
- Allow the challah to panfry in the butter until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and add another pat of butter to the pan. Panfry the other side of the challah until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.
- Spread peanut butter onto one piece of challah, using whatever amount you like. I personally like a moderate amount of peanut butter, not too over the top.
- Spread marshmallow fluff onto the other piece of challah. This I like more of. If you're feeling crazy, toast the top with a blow torch. Place two pieces of pecan praline bacon in between and slice and serve.
The marshmallow fluff can be stored in the fridge if you have extra. We stored it in our house for about 1 week, with no change in taste or texture. I'm not sure how much longer it would have lasted if we hadn't finished it so quickly!
Please note that the marshmallow fluff is cooked using an Italian meringue style, so I cannot guarantee that it hits 140F during the whipping process. Thus, I would not recommend serving this to someone who wouldn't feel comfortable eating cookie dough.
This sandwich would be delicious (and easier) as a traditional fluffernutter if you don't eat pork! Just don't make the bacon!