Retro Recipes: Blushing Snowballs, 1950
Welcome to Retro Recipes! Brought to you from the capable kitchen of Eat Me Daily's Stephanie Butler, each week we take a look at preparations from the past that straddles the line between ingenious and absurd. This week: Blushing Snowballs.
The 50s were a true boom time for evocative recipe names. A salad of lemon Jell-o, green beans , pimiento, and broccoli flowerets sounds so much more chic as "Winter Garden Loaf". Yearning for a cute, new word for "baked potatoes"? How do "Foiled Spuds" strike you? But sometimes you run across a recipe that takes creative naming to entirely new heights. Like Blushing Snowballs. Is it an obscure twee pop band? An as-yet-undiscovered sex position? Nope, none of the above. It's just apples cooked in cinnamon syrup and rolled in coconut.
But to dismiss Blushing Snowballs as just another apple dish really doesn't do them justice. The cinnamon syrup has a very special secret ingredient that helps to make it, in my mind, a quintessential crazy 50s recipe: marshmallows. Yes, this syrup contains 18 large jet-puffed marshmallows, as well as a fair amount of sugar and 1/3 a cup of red hot candies. It's an easy way to leach every nutritive element from an apple and send unsuspecting guests into diabetic comas.
The joy of pamphlets
I found this recipe in an 1950's-era pamphlet published by the Westinghouse appliance company. Vintage recipe pamphlets are terrific gold mines of recipe goodness, even better than cookbooks because the recipes are tailored specifically to products which the pamphlets were designed to supplement. Freezers, cornstarch, sausage grinders, electric kettles: these are just some of the items that home economics professionals had to sell via stapled recipe collections. As a bonus, these little booklets are much cheaper than their cookbook counterparts — if you're a collector of old culinaria, you learn quickly just how expensive those adorably retro cookbooks can be. People tend to overlook these little bundles, and so you'll often find a stack underneath old Look magazines at antique stores and in boxes pushed to the side at flea markets. I found this particular booklet in a cooking store.
I had apples in the fridge, and rounded up some marshmallows and red hots to go along with them. The recipe was as simple as they come: just boil water, sugar, marshmallows, and candies to make a thick syrup, then set the peeled, cored apples in to cook until tender. Cool them, then roll in a coating of sweetened flaked coconut. Marshmallows are full of cornstarch, so the syrup coated the back of a spoon in no time. I have no idea why the marshmallows figure so prominently in this recipe. You don't end up using the syrup for anything, so what does it matter if it's thick or not? A simple syrup, made with sugar and red hots, would serve just as well. But far be it from me to question the presence of marshmallows in a fruit dessert. The marshmallows stayed, and the leftover apple cinnamon syrup got poured over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
The end product was a sickly sweet glowing orb of apple, with a coconut crust and a side of heartburn. It wasn't disgusting, and the apple actually looked kind of pretty: I imagine the effect made with several apples on a vintage tired cake stand would be quite nice. And I'm not against using red hots or any other candies in a dessert dish, either. I make baked apples quite happily in the microwave with red hots and brown sugar stuffed in the centers, and they are delicious. But if you're going to overdose on processed sugar, at least do it with a pint of Jamocha Almond Fudge or a Butterfinger bar, and keep the whole thing away from your apples. This is one Westinghouse recipe that should have stayed in the test kitchen.
Recipe: Blushing Snowballs
From a 1950's Westinghouse recipe pamphlet
2 apples, peeled, cored, and halved
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup red hot candies
18 large marshmallows
Make syrup from water, sugar, red hots, and marshmallows. Add apple halves, cook until tender. Cool. Roll in flaked coconut.