When's the last time you let yourself make a big ol' mess just for the fun of it? If you saw the heaps of dirty clothes collage of garments adorning my bedroom floor, you'd know that I'm no stranger to messes, but it's rare that I intentionally sit and get my hands dirty for the sake of playing. When I was a little kid, I used to love playing in the mud. I'd play "cooking show" with moss and dirt and whatever earthly ingredients I could find. Somewhere along the way, I lost that ability to be present, get dirty and let my imagination take over. I admit, it would be weird if I were to go to the park, plunk myself down and start making mudpies as an adult, even if some of the kids in the sandbox are bigger than me. But, what I'd like to get back is the ability to let my mind be at peace enough to be vulnerable to my imagination and the present moment.Read More
Admittedly, I made these meyer lemon meringue pie marshmallows a week ago. They were inspired by the loveliest, silky meyer lemon curd ever to come out of my kitchen. As I kept digging my spoon into the mason jar of buttery yellow slightly tart goodness, an idea struck me: the curd had the best part of a lemon meringue pie but without the hassle of baking a crust. And, as I gorged myself on several more spoonfuls mused upon the thought of pie, I was transfixed by the idea of dreamy meringue and my mind jumped straight to marshmallows.
It might just be for the best that I didn't post these right away. See, I've been sick for almost a week. Like, it started as a sinus headache for a day and then BOOM. I was canoodling with a tissue box, slathering Vicks Vapo-rub on myself (rubbing eucalyptus smelling ointment on your pale & wan skin is never as sexy as tanning oil on golden skin at the beach, no matter how hard you make duck lips and toss your hair), chugging Mucinex (why is there red dye 40 in it if it's blue?) and trying not to suffocate in the pile of used Kleenex on my bed. (I know, I know. I'm the epitome of attractiveness.)
ANYWAY, with all that staying-indoors-yucky-feeling-ism, I could use a little sunshine in my world. Enter these lemon meringue pie marshmallows. The unflavored marshmallow flavor and texture clearly lends itself to being meringue's stunt double, but the bright just barely tart flavor of the meyer lemon layer really steals the show. Because of the acidity in the lemon juice, it doesn't get quite as stiff as the normal layer of marshmallow; in fact, it whips up like a silky, dream. Rest assured, however, it should set just fine.
Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie Marshmallows
For the top "meringue" layer One Half Batch Vanilla Marshmallows (I followed Shauna Sever's recipe directly; you can feel free to use a different recipe if you have a favorite! I originally made an entire batch, but didn't like the ratio to the lemon layer, which is why I recommend using half the recipe)
For the "lemon filling" layer (I adapted the above recipe)
For the mallows
4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin (or, 2 packages Knox)
1/2 C meyer lemon juice (approximately the juice of 2 lemons; mine came up just short by a tablespoon or so, so I compensated with water until I reached the 1/2 cup line of my liquid measuring cup)
the zest of 2 meyer lemons
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C light corn syrup
1/4 C water pinch of salt
yellow food coloring (optional)
For dusting the pan
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
1 T canola oil or non-stick spray
graham cracker crumbs (in retrospect, messy and totally optional)
1. Combine corn starch & confectioner's sugar in a small bowl. Grease an 8x8" pan with cooking spray or canola oil. Dust with confectioner's sugar mixture to coat. Tap out excess sugar. Save remaining mixture for tossing the finished marshmallows in. 2. Prepare the half-batch of vanilla marshmallows and spread into the bottom of the prepared 8x8" pan. 3. Make the lemon layer. Pour 1/2 cup lemon juice into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle powdered gelatin over the top of juice and allow to bloom, approximately 5 minutes. (Note, the mixture does not bloom as solidly as a water-gelatin mixture would. Don't be alarmed). 4. Meanwhile, combine corn syrup, sugar, 1/4 cup water in a small pan. Heat on medium until mixture reaches soft-ball stage, or 240F. Remove from heat. 5. Turn stand mixer on low, begin drizzling hot syrup into the gelatin. Once combined, turn speed up to medium. Whisk for 5 minutes. 6. Turn mixer to high. Whisk for 7 minutes. Add yellow food coloring until desired color is reached. Add lemon zest. Whisk to thoroughly combine. 7. Using a greased off-set spatula (trust me on this one, it's gonna get sticky and messy!) evenly spread the lemon layer on top of the vanilla marshmallow layer. Allow to set for at least 8 hours. 8. Once set, slice into cubes (or wedges! Gah! why didn't I think of that until this very second?) and dust with confectioner's sugar/corn starch mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
This is the way the year ends This is the way the year ends This is the way the year ends Not with a bang But a marshmallow.
2012 started with both a bang and a marshmallow. Mummers masks. A raging dance party with a triceratops. Makers 46. Fireworks. A conversation about Peeps and making your own mallowy goodness.
Last New Year's Eve, friends of mine threw a party. I knew no one but the hosts, yet thanks to the chocolate covered oreos I brought, I was able to make friends quickly [funny how that happens]. After the ball dropped, we were talking and the conversation turned to sweets. and, as I chatted with one particular fellow, he mentioned that he had an unhealthy love of marshmallows...so much so that not only stockpiled them at holidays, but he'd eat the odd-colored Peeps that should be outlawed [Red chicks for Easter? Really?!]. When I asked him if he'd ever had the homemade version, his eyes puffed like the treat in question and his jaw dropped in disbelief. I patted his arm and assured him: Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a homemade marshmallow. I even offered to make him a batch.
A few weeks and some witty texts later, I walked halfway across Philly, ready to meet up, armed with a plastic container of pillowy, freshly-made marshmallows in my mittened hand and a vanilla bean-sized fleck of hope that the afternoon would go well.
I don't normally have good luck on dates. I've been asked out by guys with horns glued to their foreheads [not at Halloween], ones who thought it appropriate to abruptly latch onto my upper thigh and cling for dear life in the middle of a movie theater, some who have said "I love you" on the first date, others who asked if I had a hit list and then immediately proceeded to describe theirs [Um...check, please?]. In the rare occasion that I end up on a date with a nice guy, I usually get too nervous and the whole thing bombs.
Though I was relaxed that afternoon and Marshmallow man was a good guy, our date wasn't all that stellar...and it lasted roughly 7 hours. I always imagined marathon dates to be romantic and taken straight from a movie--a montage of a couple at the beginning of their relationship, talking for hours at a coffee shop as the camera pans outward, snow falls outside the picture window they sit beside and, as the music dies down, the shop closes, they wonder where time has gone and have fallen in love, though they don't yet realize it. In my case, a marathon date meant fried chicken and a candy shoppe [no complaints there] and plummeted quickly into smokey divebars, awkward silences, and frigid jaunts through subzero windchills, hoping in vain that the next establishment we ventured to would spark a better connection between us.
As I thought about summarizing 2012, that day came to mind because it seemed to set the precedent for the rest of the year. I went into 2012 hopeful, and though it had its good moments, for the most part, it was a really trying year that left me feeling exhausted and discouraged. When life got hectic in the past, I lived much more in my head, so posting and putting on a happy face these past few months was not only a challenge, but it seemed insincere. Looking back at my year, though, I realize that blogging captured many of the good moments--conquering fears, traveling,discovering brown butter [finally], meeting amazing people--and, though I didn't realize it at the time, each post was a way for me push through whatever struggles I faced and to find the positives when things seemed bleak.
As I look to 2013, I'm optimistic for what's ahead and the attitude I have to tackle the new year. After all that I've faced in 2012, I realize that if something doesn't work, I need to either change my approach or change the ingredients. These marshmallows are proof of just that--sweet, but simple vanilla bean mallows that recall a not-so-perfect day are transformed into an entirely new flavor: echoes of stout with a sweet cocoa finish. Though not quite as airy as their cloud-like cousins, they're a bit like me after this year--not quite perfect, but they bounce back when you push them and are a bit richer [in their case, flavor, in mine, spirit]. The recipe needed some adjustments and I tried two different methods, but in the end, I'm happy with the result. Hopefully, by this time next year, I'll have made some adjustments too and will be happy with what I have to post as I look back at 2013. Wishing you a bright, happy, year ahead filled with lots of laughter and sweetness! xo
I'd also like to thank Shauna Sever, the author of Marshmallow Madness, for all of the advice she gave via Twitter about golden syrup vs. corn syrup as I set out to initially make peanut butter marshmallows. I used her vanilla marshmallow recipe as the base for this one, with flavor adjustments. And, given how little I know about the chemistry and makeup of marshmallows, you can bet I'll be ordering her book!
Chocolate Truffle Stout Marshmallows
dessert, sweets, snacks
adapted from Shauna Sever
A fluffy, chocolatey treat with subtle hints of stout. Makes approximately 24 1 1/2" squares.
**Note on golden syrup: Shauna's recipe calls for light corn syrup, however, I couldn't find any near me and was pleasantly surprised by the taste of golden syrup. Imagine if molasses and corn syrup had a baby--it's more flavorful than corn syrup without the punch of molasses.
**Note on flat chocolate stout: If you're impatient like me and don't want to let the beer sit out for a few hours to get flat, you can whisk it in a bowl until there's no more foam. Do this by hand; when I tried it with my standmixer, it turned entirely to foam. I used Hooker Brewing Company's Chocolate Truffle Stout from CT because I love my home state and love that beer, but use whatever chocolate stout you can find![br]
**Note on chocolate:[/b] I made this recipe two ways--once with 3 oz melted dark chocolate (72%) and once with Dutch process cocoa powder. I liked the cocoa powder version more because the melted dark chocolate masked the flavor of the beer quite a bit. If you'd like just a faint hint of beer, use melted chocolate and add it at the same stage you'd add the cocoa powder, but you can increase the mixer speed to medium once you add the melted chocolate.
- 4 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder [approx 2 packets of Knox]
- 3/4 C cold, flat chocolate truffle stout** (see above note)
- 1/2 C golden syrup** (see above note)
- 3/4 C granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract [I used my own homemade vanilla extract!]
- 1/2 C unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, divided** (see above note)
- Special Equipment
- 8x8" pan
- Candy Thermometer
- Stand Mixer
- Pizza Cutter
- Grease an 8x8" pan with canola oil. Dust with cocoa powder.
- Place 1/2 C of the flat chocolate stout in a microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin. Stir once or twice to coat the gelatin. Let sit for five minutes to bloom.
- Meanwhile, stir together 1/4 C golden syrup, sugar, salt and remaining 1/4 C chocolate stout in a saucepan over high heat. Heat until mixture reaches 240F, stirring occasionally. (If you don't have a thermometer, this is the 'soft ball' stage, which means you should be able to drop the mixture into very cold water, form it into a ball with your fingers, but it should lose its shape when removed from the water.)
- Pour remaining golden syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Microwave the gelatin/beer for 30 seconds on high until the gelatin melts completely. [The bonus of subbing beer for water in this recipe is that it masks the smell of the melted gelatin!]
- Start mixer and set to low. Once the beer/golden syrup/sugar mixture has come to 240F, slowly pour it into the mixing bowl. Increase the speed to medium and whisk for 5 minutes, then increase the speed to medium for 5 more minutes and finally, increase the speed to the highest setting for 2 minutes. The mixture should be fluffy, light to medium brown and have tripled in volume.
- Stop the mixer and add 1/4 C cocoa powder. Mix on lowest setting until almost completely combined (If the speed is too fast, you'll wind up with cocoa all over your kitchen--trust me!)
- Pour it into the 8x8" pan and spread and smooth into the corners with an off-set spatula. Dust lightly with cocoa powder. Allow to set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.
- After marshmallow sets, invert pan onto a surface dusted with cocoa powder. Dust a pizza cutter with cocoa powder and cut marshmallows into squares. Toss squares into cocoa powder to coat any sticky edges.