WFAEats
12:00 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Marsh Madness

Homemade marshmallows.
Credit Flickr/poppet with a camera.

The world of food has never been more competitive. Top chefs, iron chefs and cake bosses are stepping up to challenges on chopping blocks all around the U.S. and abroad.

And if you’ve been asking yourself, “When will we have a competition for the most amazing and exotic marshmallow?” we have your answer. It’s happening right now and it’s called MARSH Madness.

It started with Marshmallow Madness, a new cookbook boasting “dozens of puffalicious recipes.” Between the candy-colored covers, author Shauna Sever guides readers through the simple – yes, simple! – steps of creating fun and flavorful marshmallows.

This skeptic was won over after making just one batch of Classic Vanilla Marshmallows. And so were the reluctant tasters I ambushed – once they stopped talking and started tasting.

Homemade chocolate marshmallows.
Credit Homemade chocolate marshmallows.

The marshmallows were completely unlike the gummy and chalky store-bought versions we all grew up with. Without the familiar and uniform rounded edges, handmade marshmallows look different. (You can slice them into wedges, rounds or other shapes but I kept it simple and cut mine into 1” squares.)

They were pillow-y and perfect, sweet and light in texture but with real, non-nonsense flavor. A couple of folks nearly swooned.

And that was just the vanilla. There are almost endless flavor combinations: cinnamon, chocolate, key lime, rum, margarita and more.

Of course, in this reality-show world, it’s not enough to invent a better marshmallow. You’ve got to spread the word. Over at “Serious Eats,” a Sweet Sixteen selection of food writers are competing by region, bracket-style, for bragging rights as the best marshmallow maker.

It’s getting down to the wire. The ’mallow masters in the Southeast Region are the last to play. Will it be Raspberry Cheesecake or Cinnamon Toast? Or will Cookie Dough Swirl come from behind to win it all? Only time – and taste – will tell…

Here & Now  |  Forget Peeps, Make Your Own Marshmallows!

Homemade marshmallows.
Credit SliceOfChic on Flickr.


Classic Vanilla Marshmallows

About 2 dozen 1-1/2-inch mallows

THE BLOOM

  • 4-1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water

THE SYRUP

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

THE MALLOWING

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Classic Coating (1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar combined with 1 cup cornstarch)

Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

WHISK TOGETHER the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and let soften for 5 minutes.

STIR TOGETHER the sugar, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, pour remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour it into the mixer bowl. Set the mixer speed to low and keep it running.

WHEN THE SYRUP reaches 240°F, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the vanilla; the finished marshmallow will be opaque white, fluffy, and tripled in volume. Pour it into the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to smooth it into the corners. Sift coating evenly and generously over top. Let set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.

Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut into whatever size pieces you wish (a pizza cutter works great for squares). Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more coating, patting off the excess.

Super vanilla-ize these mallows by adding a scraped vanilla bean or dab of pure vanilla bean paste along with the vanilla extract.

More Mallows

Chocolate Chip Marshmallows: Fold in 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips before pouring the marshmallow into the prepared pan.

Torrone Marshmallows: Substitute 2 tablespoons honey for half the corn syrup in the Syrup stage. Fold 1/3 cup toasted, chopped salted pistachios and 1/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries into the fully whipped batter.

Cookies ’n Cream Marshmallows: Fold 1/3 cup crushed Oreo cookies into the beaten marshmallow batter. Take it a step further by rolling the finished cut mallows in crushed cookies instead of Classic Coating.

Homemade Mini Marshmallows

These are super simple and way too easy to nibble on by the handful. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and dust it generously with Classic Coating. Make a batch of Classic Vanilla Marshmallows, but omit the last minute of beating on high speed, instead adding the vanilla during the last minute of medium-high beating. Load the batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a large round pastry tip (or use a disposable zip-top plastic bag with one corner snipped off). Pipe long lines of marshmallow in parallel rows across the baking sheet. Dust with more coating and let cure. When set, use kitchen scissors to snip the marshmallow sticks into 1/2-inch-wide bits. Roll the mini mallows in the coating right on the baking sheet, dusting off the excess.

Recipes reprinted with permission from Marshmallow Madness and Quirk Books

Espresso (Brown), Grapefruit (Pink), Vanilla (White) marshmallows.
Credit Flickr/ulterior epicure.