Sometimes you get offered a book to review that you are really excited to try cooking or baking from–but just not that time of year. I am extremely moody when it comes to the seasons and food. I don’t like gingersnaps in the spring or summer. I used to refuse to eat Indian curries in the summer. I still refuse to eat any Thai coconut milk curries in the summer except green. Marshmallows for me are late fall/early winter treats. They sing of holidays and hot chocolate. But Marshmallow Madness was released in the spring–I think the publishers were aiming for Easter and of course they could not know I would be marshmallow’ed out by then. So alas the book gathered some dust.
But I did not forget about it–and thank goodness because this book has revolutionized my marshmallow making!
As long time readers know, I am no stranger to marshmallow making. But Shauna Sever‘s Marshmallow Madness has 2 things going for it, even for an experienced marshmallow maker like me (it has a lot more than that going for it if you are new to marshmallow making!). First, the sheer variety of flavor suggestions is awesome–and especially awesome because she offers suggestions for how to create your own, that are not listed in her book. Second, her technique is a little different from that which I have employed in the past, and while the result is a little less fluffy, it is infinitely easier to work with, encouraging creativity in the form of piping out the marshmallow “batter” into silicone pans and creating fun marshmallow shapes without wasting marshmallow cake from cookie cutters (see photo on right–and don’t worry I did not throw that out!).
So about the flavors I chose. The first recipe I made, the one that instantly caught my eye and that I knew I would make right away, was Oreo Marshmallows. Confession time: I LOVE Oreos. They are my processed ugh weakness. They are fantastic in ice cream and they are addictive plain. As a result I simply do not buy them because I will eat them all (although when my dad feels like bugging me he will bring the girls a bag), but when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. They did not disappoint, I am happy to report, and were easily the first flavor to disappear. (Because of the chunky cookies, this is one I do not recommend piping or cutting into fancy shapes).
The next flavor I chose was the Peppermint Dark Chocolate. I had tried making chocolate marshmallows before, but I had never found one I loved enough to share with you guys. I think Shauna’a word for these marshmallows was “deeply chocolate” and that really caught my eye. And then she suggested a peppermint variation, and peppermint marshmallows in hot chocolate are pretty much the reason I fell in love with making marshmallows, so I was intrigued.
These were also a success. I dropped them several times into my homemade peppermint mochas and YUM! My kids also loved them. So did John. Shauna called for Dutched cocoa, which was different from what I had tried in the past, and the deeper chocolate flavor really worked well with the peppermint. As you can see, this was the flavor where I experimented with using a cookie cutter (actually it was a biscuit cutter, since they are deeper). This worked perfectly but did create, as noted above, a lot of scraps.
These last marshmallows, Kahlua and Cream, are the ones I got the most excited by. First, because I am totally intrigued by all of the boozy flavors I can imagine. I said I’ve never wanted to make marshmallows in the summer, but c’mon! Who wouldn’t want to try a margarita or mojito marshmallow (the first of which recipes she provides)? This is also the batch where I suddenly realized that Shauna’s technique created marshmallow fluff that does not set up as quickly as my previous recipes, which in turn meant there is more time to scoop the fluff into a piping bag and pipe the fluff into silicone molds. I giggled the entire time I made these–the shapes just made me so happy! Next time I would try original Kahlua for an even stronger flavor–all I had to work with was the Kahlua cream liquor. Shauna notes that the key to working with alcohol is matching up the proof–so while she did not have this particular flavor combination, I just found one she made using a similarly proofed liquor and used that recipe as my guide.
My goal was to get you guys this review in time for Holiday baking. For 5 years now I have made sure that marshmallows were part of my Holiday cookie tray, gift bags to teachers, etc. They make a great contrast with the cookies and never fail to impress. Most people do not realize just how easy homemade marshmallows are, and sadly most people do not realize how much better (incredibly so) homemade marshmallows are as compared to those things in the bag that barely melt. I used to think I hated marshmallows except in s’mores. I was wrong.
Because I really hope you guys will check out Shauna’s book, I will leave it to you to find the Oreo and Peppermint Dark Chocolate recipes.
Kahlua & Cream Marshmallows
Adapted from Marshmallow Madness, Shauna Sever
4 t unflavored powdered gelatin
1/3 cold water
2 T Kahlua Cream Liquor
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
1/4 cup Kahlua Cream Liquor
1/4 cup water
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Lightly spray silicone molds with oil spray (how many molds will depend on their size and depth; I ended up using 2, but as you can see in the pictures the heart molds were quite deep). Set aside.
In the bottom of your mixer bowl, whisk together the gelatin, cold water and 2 tablespoons of Kahlua Cream Liquor. Attach to the mixer and let it set while you prepare the syrup.
Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, 1/4 cup Kahlua Cream Liquor, water and salt in a heavy, medium-large, non-reactive sauce pan (I used a 4 qt All Clad). Place over high heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side of the pan and submerged in the syrup. Boil until the thermometer reads 240 F.
When it reaches 240 F, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl with the whisk attachment running on low speed. I like to rest the pot on the side of the metal bowl and let it slowly drizzle down the sides of the bowl. Be careful because the syrup is hot and sugar burns are particularly bad.
Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Be wary of splattering. Increase to medium high speed and beat an additional 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to add the vanilla and then increase to the highest speed. If the weather is quite dry beat for 2 more minutes. If it is average, beat for 3 minutes. If you are at all concerned about damp, beat for 4 minutes.
While the fluff is beating, whisk together the corn starch and powdered sugar. Set aside.
Also while the fluff is beating, Prepare a piping bag with a plain wide tip. Place the piping bag into a bowl or wide glass and fold the tops of the bag over the sides. When the fluff is ready, quickly scrape it into the prepared piping bag. Working quickly but carefully, pipe the marshmallow fluff into the prepared molds.
Sift the prepared coating (powdered sugar and corn starch) over the molds. Set aside for 6 hours in a cool, dry place. Reserve the remaining coating mix.
Pop the marshmallows out of the molds. Ooh and ahh over how easy it is! Dust the marshmallows with the remaining coating mix. Store in single layers in a mostly sealed container–crack one corner to allow for some air flow. Marshmallows are best for eating out of hand fresh, but even weeks-old marshmallows will be fabulous in coffee or hot chocolate.
Fine print: I was sent this book to review for free by the publisher. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated in any way for this review aside from the book.