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Neither marsh nor mallow, discuss...

The recipe for this is here: Berry Marshmallows with chocolate

Mmdrip4

First I have to admit something--I am not the hugest fan of marshmallows. Okay, so a campfire somehow just isn't complete without some to toast, and they are great as an (occasional) ingredient...but marshmallows for their own sake? Marshmallows to be eaten like candy just didn't grab my attention.

Until I ran across an eGullet thread discussing making marshmallows. Making them? You can make them? Oh gee, why didn't anyone tell me? This might be a different story entirely.

Upfront warning: this requires a good mixer, preferably a stand mixer with one of those splash-guard contraptions with a pouring spout. If you don't have one, think of a friend who does and arrange to split a batch. (btw, a single batch is huge, so unless you're serving a crowd, you might want to scale it down a bit)

I used Nightscotsman's recipe, available here. It's got two mixtures: the cold one, gelatin, fruit, water; the hot one, sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Each of these is mixed individually, then they are combined. The result is kitchen magic at its best, simple ingredients combined in a few steps to create a nearly universal treat.

Mmberryfroz

Frozen strawberries, gently thawing in the sunshine.

Mmberrypuree

Berries, thawed and smoothed with an immersion blender.

Mmberrystrain

Straining all the itsybitsy seeds out of the berry puree; if you look quickly, you can see the very first drop.

Mmgel1

Martian landscape in three steps: Berries, water, gelatin

Mmbubbles

Underwater volcanos in three steps: Sugar, corn syrup, water

Mmsugarboil2

Those glistening, transparent bubbles are one sign that the sugar is at the soft ball temperature of 234-240.

Mmtherm

And the thermometer agrees.

Mmwhip1

The hot sugar is now poured very, very, very slowly into the mixer, while the mixer is on high.  By the time the sugar syrup is all added, it looks like this.

Perhaps we should pause for just a moment to consider the consequences of boiling sugar meeting a whisk whirling at 2400 rpm, particularly if it's your hands involved in the pouring. Remember the splash guard contraption that was mentioned earlier? This is why. Be safe, okay?

Mmdrip1

After 21,600 rotations, the clear sugar syrup and the martian landscape of fruit and gelatin has been transformed into this!

Mmsheet1

Whipped marshmallow fluff is scraped onto on a cookie sheet lined with well-oiled aluminum foil. Enough oil is critical, otherwise it all sticks together.

Mmsheetchoc

Sometimes you feel like plain, sometimes you feel like chocolate. And I believe in choice, so I made both.

There are different schools of thought when it comes to the bonding of chocolate with this fluffy goodness--they are mostly summed up by frustration and a few hints. Don't get any dusting sugar on the sides(s) where chocolate is to be applied, temperature is important (too hot and you risk melting the marshmallows), and prepare to have it fail.

In this case, I melted bittersweet chocolate in the microwave, when it was done I tossed in a handful of semisweet chips and stirred until it was melted and starting to cool. Then the chocolate was poured on and smoothed a bit.

After 15 minuted, I pressed a sheet of parchment on the chocolate, smoothed it so there were no places where the chocolate wasn't adhering to the paper, and let it cool. After a couple of hours, flip the slab and cut with one of those long (mezzaluna like) blades with a handle on each end)

Mmberrydone

A sugar mixture (1 part corn starch, 1 part rice flour, 2 parts powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla powder) is sifted over the plain marshmallows to help them not stick to each other.

(the unchocolated surfaces of the chocolate ones get dusted too)

Mmwchoc1

Looks good enough to eat!

This alchemy of simple things--in this case, sugar, corn syrup, fruit, and water--is why I love to cook. When a few simple things come together in a new way--even if it's only new to you--it's gratifying. (and when it's something like marshmallows, you get lots of external  validation; try this experiment, tell some people you are going to make marshmallows and watch their reactions...of course, this probably means you'll have to make them, but you really ought to try it...)

Conclusions:

  • I am still not the biggest marshmallow fan, but these could certainly help make me one.
  • Not enough chocolate! The chocolate layer needs to be thicker...a lot thicker. (this might also make me more of a marshmallow fan)
  • Flavoring isn't strong enough. I wonder how much puree you could get away with adding...maybe it would be more forgiving if the gelatin is increased too) Or maybe some essential oils.
  • In retrospect, I'd probably use a smaller pan with higher sides and make taller marshmallows...which must be an excuse to make another batch.
  • It's time for s'mores!

Someday I'll have to find one of the original recipes for these things--one actually using the marsh mallow that gave the treats their name. Somehow, I doubt they'll be as good as these.

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