Monday, July 29, 2013

marshmallow madness


 There are only three foods on this earth that I truly detest: scallops, feta cheese, and marshmallows.  I can pinpoint the exact moment that I started hating the first two foods, but marshmallows and I have a long-standing feud. I think it stems for a general distaste for gelatin, which, in case you've never worked with it closely, smells like a pair of rubber socks that have been on sweaty feet for the past several hours.  I acknowledge that most people love them, as evidenced by the fact that I spent a year making marshmallow cheesecake topping every single day in the restaurant. 

I actually think there is something to be said for cooking a food you dislike eating.  Making brownies usually ends with me lying in the fetal position on the couch after licking the bowl and "taste testing" 2 or 14 teeny tiny bites of brownie. If I"m going to stay lean and mean, I should make marshmallows every day. 

But, damn. They are a mess! As with lots of things in baking (bread dough, taffy, pie crust), you need to show these marshmallows who is boss or they'll end up stuck all over your body, your kitchen, and your hair. I'm not even kidding. 

I secretly love making a mess in the kitchen, though. And these marshmallows are so darn pretty! They were like a big, fluffy pink cloud. I won't pretend to be a marshmallow recipe developer, but I will share the recipe and give you my insider tips to executing this successfully. There are about a million places where this recipe can derail, so if you want to attempt this, definitely read through my advice first! 

There are three main ingredients in marshmallows: egg whites, sugar, and gelatin. Lots and lots of gelatin. Exhibit A: order to use gelatin, you need to "bloom" it in cold water and then "dissolve" it by heating it.  The bloomed gelatin looks like a glob of slime. 

As your gelatin is getting jelly, you'll make a sugar syrup and heat it to liquid magma heat. As this is happening, you're whipping up some egg whites (oh, did I mention that this is a crazy choreographed process? If you can't do four things at once, go buy yourself some Jet-Puffed). 

IMG_0813Once your syrup reaches the magical number (which happens to be 242*F), you'll need to pour the syrup into the egg whites as they're whipping.  The big tip hear is to pour the syrup down the side of the bowl and NOT anywhere near the whisk… unless you want a face full of liquid magma sugar (you don't). 

After that, you let your whites and sugar whip to oblivion. At this point, you can add any flavoring or coloring that you wish.  

IMG_0817 #makeitpink

You'll want to keep whipping until the metal bowl on your mixer feels cool (it will take 5-10 minutes). 

When it's all said and done, the schmallows look iike this: 



Make copious amounts of the "marshmallow mix" (which is a 1:1 ratio of cornstarch and powdered sugar) and basically dust it all over your kitchen. 

IMG_0810I spread the marshmallow out with an offset spatula and then let it sit overnight, uncovered. 

I was really nervous about this and envisioned walking downstairs in the morning to find 40752 dead fruit flies trapped in the marshmallow, but that didn't happen. I guess fruit flies are as repulsed by marshmallows as I am. It's important to leave them uncovered, because they will dry out overnight and become way less sticky (but still sticky). 

In the morning, I cut them into squares with scissors. I really was not anticipating the absurd amount of marshmallows the this recipe would make. 


It was out of control. That was probably 25% of them. 

The verdict? My official taste tester/husband thought they had a little bit of a gelatin aftertaste. I probably could have put in more vanilla extract to cover up that taste. 

Since I had a bajillino marshmallows, I decided to make a party favor for my summer soiree.  Originally, I thought we could make s'mores on our gas grill, but I hesitate to give people lots of alcohol, open flame, and sticks in a situation that might end with me getting sued. 

I decided to take the middle man (aka guest) out of the situation and make "smore's pops".  I cut some cute straws in half to use as sticks, dipped the marshmallows in chocolate, and then dusted them with graham cracker drums. 


Even I thought these were pretty tasty.  Don't hold your breath for any scallop and feta cheese pops, though.


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