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A brief mash note to food blogs (in general and specific)

chocolate coated raspberry marshmallows

I just want to say that I love the Web in general, and food blogs in particular. They are a valuable, and marvelously fun, addition to the stacks of books and magazines that already clutter my life. While I'd like to say they are a great free source of recipes and such, I am not so sure. I am constantly going to someone's site and deciding to buy something. Like my new ice cream machine (thanks to David Lebovitz for the recommendation), which is wonderful and all, but not so free!

Naysayers, (you know who you are) who swear blogs are all dren run by people writing about their cheese sandwiches lunch and soooo not relevant to the serious media, listen up! There is a reason why food blogs occupy a favored spot in the hearts and minds of a vast readership. Let me tell you a story about why...

I have made marshmallows on a number of occasions including those lovely chocolate coated raspberry marshmallows right up there. What I have not made is chocolate marshmallows and, while that may seem simple, there is actually rather complex chemistry at work between the very few ingredients in marshmallows.

Boil the sugar syrup to a phase other than soft-ball and you get something different - although not necessarily bad, I want to experiment with making marshmallow fluff by boiling the sugar a bit less. Too much fruit puree seems to destabilize the sticky mass just enough that mine stayed a little too soft; too soft to roast on a fire, and that's no good! Worse, the merest hint of oil and the mixture can become totally undone, refusing to whip into a billow of wonderfulness and settling into an sullen, glutinous mass in the mixer bowl.

Fortunately for me, I know McAuliflower, just down the road at Brownie Points, is a bit of a mad scientist (and she's got the coolest toys!) and has done all sorts of marshmallow experimentation. Better yet, I know several things about McAuliflower's recipes:

  • They are actually tested (I've yet to have one of hers fail) and she is open to corrections and enhancements when she finds a better way.
  • If there is a technical reason for something, she explains it.
  • There are likely to be variations for things she is really into - she has a category for marshmallows!

Knowing that marshmallows are one of those things she is seriously into, I knew this was a great source for what I needed. At her site, it took me two clicks to find this great post on chocolate marshmallows and am no off to make some of my own, secure in the knowledge that it will work and with a solid explanation for why I want to add the chocolate at the end of whipping them. (read it and see for yourself) I'm going to do it with a mixer, rather than by hand, as it seems McAuliflower did, but I know why she did it her way and how to make it work my way.

The entire process of finding the right post took me about 45 seconds. (Last time I needed a recipe for something semi-obscure and went to the cookbooks, I was still there twenty minutes later.)

It's damned hard to provide this sort of 'perfect for me right now' resource without a large pool of talented and passionate people who are free to write about what they love.

And at the moment I love Brownie Points. Thanks, McAuliflower!

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