Photo by Leigh Beisch
I fell in love today, of all days, with marshmallows, of all things. To be quite honest, I was never a fan of marshmallows. No s'more fan here. But then I got this book -- Marshmallow Madness, by Shauna Sever, from Quirk Books and I'm a believer.
Even though my fear of confection-making ranks right up there with all things yeast, the book quickly reeled me in, with everything from the feel of the book cover (It's puffy!) to the lip-smacking pictures, especially of the one I chose to make -- Maple Bacon Marshmallows -- to the very thorough step-by-step directions.
After I got over the initial "What?!?!? You can make marshmallows -- at home?" I evolved into "Well, I do have everything I need" and capped it with "Let's go!"
I read the recipe several times. I read and reread the basics of marshmallow making. I declared myself on a mission to conquer confection. I gathered my equipment. Tested my candy thermometer (and blessed my hoarding self for keeping it all these years.) I candied the bacon. (Delicious on its own, of course.) I mixed the coating. I got out the ingredients and -- poof! -- in under an hour, I had indeed made marshmallows! Me! Whodathunkit?
It was a bit of a sticky mess and it took paying attention to detail but it was fun to do and the results were worth it. These marshmallows aren't like the commercial kind at all -- all that my limited exposure knows. They're light and airy but they have a bit of texture that really makes them seem like fairy food, not fairy fluff.
And the flavor of maple and bacon and cinnamon together? Heaven. Just like your favorite breakfast in a mouth sized portion. I've always loved the mix of sweet and savory and although this leans more toward sweet, the bacon saves it (for me) from a sugar overdose.
Now that I have this success under my belt, I just may have to branch out and explore more of the book: Sea Salt Caramel Swirls would be pretty close to these and so would Salted Peanut ones. Pineapple Rosemary? Maybe. Margarita Marshmallows. Very intriguing. Chocolate Malt. Mango-Chile-Lime. A lot of choices. Of course, there's also Strawberry and Vanilla. And great ideas for decorating and making desserts with your marshmallows. There's a lot of inspiration in this book.
And although I don't think these will quite cut it this summer when the grandsons want to roast marshmallows by the fire, I'm still pretty tickled.
Props to Shauna Sever, who blogs at Piece of Cake, for creating such delectable concoctions and for providing such clear step-by-steps. And the photography from Leigh Beisch is simply outstanding. And thanks to Quirk Books for the review copy. The enthusiasm for the book is my own, and genuine.
Maple Bacon Marshmallows
from Marshmallow Madness
makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2 inch marshmallows
4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup Grade A dark or Grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped candied bacon*
1/2 cup Classic Coating**
(Before anything, check all your equipment, especially your candy thermometer, and make the Candied Bacon and the Classic Coating. Then you can get started.)
Lightly coat an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a bowl and let soften.
Stir together the sugar, ample syrup, corn syrup, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until it hits 240 degrees F. (Be prepared to lower the heat as need -- this syrup has a tendency to bubble up.) Microwave the gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set the mixer to low and keep it running till you're ready to add the syrup.
When the syrup has reached 240 degrees F., slowly pour it into the mixer owl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium high and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the cinnamon, increase to the highest speed. and beat for 1 minute more. Quickly fold in the bacon bits. Pour into the prepared pan. Sift coating over top. Let it set in a cool dry place for 6 hours.
Use a knife to loosed the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the slab onto a work surface. Cut into piece and dust again with more coating. Eat 'em up!
*To make candied bacon, lay 6 or 7 slices on a wire rack set over a sheet pan lined with foil. Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon. Rub over both sides of bacon. Bake at 350 degrees F until deeply caramelized, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool before chopping into bits.
**Classic Coating: Sift 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar with 1 cup corn or potato starch. (Store extra tightly covered.)