In the new movie Valentine’s Day, there is a scene toward the end between Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher, who play long-time best friends in the movie. It is one to which Amey and I can relate. Being married to your best friend means there is almost nothing that you cannot discuss with your other half, whether it be the dissection of a ‘moment’ or an irrational obsession with all things marshmallow.
It’s pre-Valentine’s day and a gorgeous, sunny February day in NorCal. I should be outside, revelling in the light and soaking up the sunshine. Instead I’m sitting here, glued to my computer and feverishly tapping away on the keyboard. Why? Because the marshmallow made me do it. It was aided and abetted by the chocolate.
That is how intensely good these homemade marshmallows are. If you are a sucker for these soft white melting pillows, and I am, you will be riotously giddy about how easy this recipe is and how entertaining they are to make. I haven’t had this much serious fun cooking since I made plasticine pies when I was five. There is the same sort of creative discovery and satisfaction to be found here. An intensely childlike glee takes root in you as you watch the alpine white fluff come together around a whirring whisk, which is weaving meandering furrows through it.
It is about as simple as putting together a homemade jelly, perhaps even easier. The marshmallow turns out divine, with an evanescent melting consistency and a gorgeously speckled sponge-like appearance that a store-bought variety could never hope to have. The only tedious thing about it is just how sticky it all is. Be warned, the only thing more adherent is super glue. Visions of Tom & Jerry flashed through my head as I had desperately tried to shake stubborn bits off my fingers on to the the sugared wax paper, without wall-papering the kitchen in the process. Thankfully, I made two batches. They were needed.
The marshmallows were supposed to have been the whole idea. The chocolate was only going to be there to lend some tone. They were going to be chocolate covered marshmallows.What I failed to remember was that the meeting of molten chocolate and the gentle mallow has to be very brief. Carried away by the moment, I gave the marshmallow a rigorous dunking, which resulted in it resembling the Wicked Witch of the West in the last scene of Wizard of Oz (with appropriate substitutions of white for green). Chocolate, as it inevitably will, took over my marshmallow world.
So, humbled and wiser, I present to you, marshmallows, marshmallows with sploshes of chocolate and my own concocted version of chocolate truffles. The overabundance of melted chocolate demanded that I do something with it. I would never be able to look a chocolate chip in the metaphorical eye again if I hadn’t.
Today was a day filled with amusement and learning. It was almost as if Cupid, the presiding spirit of the day, had abdicated to Loki. The results of the day, however, were undeniably tasty.
Adapted from Gourmet via Smitten Kitchen
Makes a 9 X 13 inch slab
Sugar – 2 cups
Light corn syrup – 1/2 cup
Powdered gelatin – 3 1/2 packets
Cold water – 1 cup (used separately in 1/2 cups)
Salt – a pinch
Egg whites – 2
Vanilla extract – 3/4 tbsp
Orange extract – 1/4 tbsp
Powdered sugar – as needed
– Pour 1/2 cup of cold water into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin in over it. Set aside.
– Grease a 9X13 baking dish with butter and sprinkle over powdered sugar evenly to coat.
– In a pot with a thick base, mix together the remaining water, sugar, corn syrup and salt over low heat. Stir the sugar to dissolve.
– Turn up the heat and insert a candy thermometer into the pot. Heat until the temperature of the sugar syrup hits 240ºF.
– Pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin and stir to dissolve the gelatin. Then using a hand mixer (or stand mixer) on high speed, beat the sugar and gelatin mixture until it goes a thick and creamy white and increases in volume.
– In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites (with clean beaters) until they just start to hold their peaks.
– Add the egg whites to the sugar and gelatin mixture, followed by the flavouring extracts. Beat together until incorporated.
– Pour into the prepped baking dish, then place into the fridge to set for at least three hours.
– To remove the marshmallow slab from the baking dish, loosen the sides and bottom with a knife before turning it out onto liberally sugared wax paper.
– Cut into shapes of your choice (using metal shape cutters or a knife) and use the scraps for dissolving into hot chocolate.
Chocolate Brandy Truffles
Makes 20-25 truffles
Dark chocolate – 4 oz
Bittersweet chocolate – 11 oz
Whipping cream – 1/4 cup
Brandy – 1/4 cup
Light corn syrup – 2 tbsp
Cocoa powder – for dusting, about 1/2 cup
– Place a bowl over a pot of boiling water. Add the chocolate chips/ pieces of chocolate into the bowl and allow to melt.
– As the chocolate starts to melt, add the cream and the brandy. Stir vigorously.
– Add the corn syrup to the melted chocolate and cream mixture. The texture will be a bit grainy. Stir it to make sure everything is melted, than move the upper bowl off the boiling pot of water.
– Allow the chocolate mixture to cool until you can touch it by hand. It will also start to solidify a bit. Pinch out large marble-sized portions and roll on your palms to form round balls.
– Place all completed truffles on a tray and dust over with generous amounts of cocoa powder.
– Cool in the fridge for at least thirty minutes before serving.
I’m euphoric about how amazing this homemade marshmallow is. Or that could just be this huge sugar high that I’m on at the moment. (Observation #1- Express superhuman willpower and prevent yourself from too much testing while you cook, especially if said cooking is happening on an empty stomach. The place I am in right now is a see-saw ride.) You can use just vanilla, but I loved the orange milkshake flavour of the combination of the two extracts. Use metal to cut the shapes, plastic just won’t be sharp enough. The recipe is very good. As I noted before, marshmallow sticks to everything. This is the only drawback here. You’ve been warned.
The chocolate truffles were smooth with hints of the brandy. I have no idea if this is how truffles are made exactly and am too wired to do the research immediately.) These trufflesque spheres of chocolate are sublime and were responsible for delivering the coup de grâce to vault me into this Energizer bunny act I’ve got going on. (Perhaps making both of these together isn’t the best idea. Feel free to learn from my very tasty mistakes. Or repeat them. They’re delicious.)
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go scrub a kitchen or two. Then maybe I’ll go wash the beach. Or ride the Mavericks.