And they’re probably on the dessert menu of your favorite Music City restaurant during the month of October. To celebrate 2012’s centennial of America’s favorite chocolate candy cluster, more than 40 of Nashville’s restaurants have developed tribute desserts featuring deconstructed versions of Goo Goo’s caramel, marshmallow, nougat, peanuts or pecans, and milk chocolate or peanut butter.
If you haven’t had a Goo Goo in awhile, it’s time to seek them out, as they have reformulated that marshmallow fluff that used to give them the consistency of half-dried spackle. The resulting confection has a creaminess and depth of flavor that I certainly don’t recall from my youth, but then again there are a lot of things that I don’t recall from my youth …
Another interesting result of the new and improved marshmallow is that they have removed any gelatin from the recipe. That’s right, Goo Goos are vegetarian now! I might just be able to make it through “Meatless Mondays” a little more often.
The list of participating restaurants includes 55 South, Biscuit Love Truck, Bound’ry, Capitol Grille, ChaChah, Chef’s Market, Coffee Lunch, Copper Kettle, F Scotts, Fido, Flyte, Germantown Café, Hit and Miss Ice Cream, Jimmy Kelly’s, Loveless Café, Martin’s BBQ, McCabe Pub, Merchants, Nero’s Grill, Pied Piper Creamery, Porta Via Italian Kitchen, Prime 108, Provence, Pucketts, Red Pony, Riffs Fine Street Food, Saffire, Silo, Sloco, Smoke et Al, Table 3, Tayst, The Cupcake Collection, The Grilled Cheeserie, The Painted Cupcake, The Pharmacy, Silo, The Southern, The Sportsgrille, The Turnip Truck Urban Fare, The Wild Hare, The Yellow Porch, Watermark, and Wild Iris.
Here are some particular favorites that I’m personally looking forward to trying out:
55 South in Franklin struck me dumb with their Goo Goo Chess Pie. I often wondered how you could improve on God’s perfect dessert of eggs, sugar, flour and butter but Jason McConnell may just have one-upped the Big Guy.
Shame on you if you’re a stranger to Karl Worley’s Biscuit Love food truck. Worley actually leases the truck from McConnell, so there’s twice as much love for biscuits and Goo Goos involved. But Worley took his decadent “Bonut” dessert, a lovely deep fried biscuit dough beignet, and then he filled it with marshmallow cream and rolled it in peanut butter dust, drizzled it with caramel and served it with a chocolate gravy. Yes, you read that correctly. Chocolate. Gravy. Stop that truck!
Arnold and Sebastian at Cha Chah are playing around with a Goo Goo Cheesecake with peanuts and a peanut butter Anglaise. I always love the sense of fun that these guys inject into their desserts, so this should be a good one.
Puckett’s emphasizes the Southern heritage of the wonderful little cluster with their Goo Goo Cluster Sundae. It’s a deep-fried Goo Goo topped with vanilla ice cream, powdered sugar and chocolate syrup and then served in a precious little skillet.
Prime 108 pays homage to another Southern stalwart with their Goo Goo Cluster Molten Lava Cake served with Jack Daniel’s Caramel Gelato. Chocolate and Tennessee whiskey? Count me in. Or rather…count me out after a few shots of whiskey with my Goo Goo.
I actually saw the Goo Goo Caramel Apple Salad from Chef’s Market in Goodlettsville in the wild last week when I was up there for a book signing event. They have mixed up a mélange of apples, Goo Goo Clusters, vanilla pudding, whipped topping, caramel sauce and roasted peanuts that wonderfully pushes the envelope on any definition of “salad” you’ve ever considered.
Finally, tayst and Chef Jeremy Barlow may be closing up shop at the end of the year, but they’re going out with a bang. Considering that I live a block from the restaurant, I may just have to try their Goo Goo Canolli on more that one occasion. He made this dessert at the Savor Nashville Chef’s Challenge this summer and I still can’t get the Goo Goo shell stuffed with Benton’s bacon mousse and Jack Daniel’s Honey glaze out of my mind.
It may be Goo Goo’s 100th birthday, but we can all get the presents thanks to all of these creative chefs and restaurants. See you in the diabetes ward.