Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quality time with a master

I like to be prepared.

I'm a list-maker. A dry-runner. It keeps things orderly, and that's how I like them. It also means that when The Time comes, I'll know what I'm doing, whatever that time might be. In this case, it's the Tall and Handsome Man's birthday coming up on the horizon, and he requested s'mores in lieu of a birthday cake.

What's an adventurous cook to do? Find a couple of recipes for marshmallows and try them out. For science. So, I pulled the ingredients together and I spent some quality time with an old friend:

Readers, meet Mixmaster K

We've been together quite a few years, but he didn't really earn his spot on the countertop until recently, when I started baking like the zombie apocalypse was on the horizon. (It might very well be. Won't you be sorry that you didn't partake in butter and cream when you had the chance?)

Mixmaster K has been whipping cream, kneading dough, and generally beating the living daylights out of everything I've thrown in his path. We had a slight disagreement about incorporating frozen butter into dough, but I recognized the error of my ways, and have since changed. There is a lot of give and take in relationships, you know.

Yesterday was a day where I was especially grateful for Mixmaster K. I made two different marshmallow recipes- one from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, one from Smitten Kitchen. I think making marshmallows is impossible without some sort of mechanical intervention, be it a stand mixer or a hand mixer- I know that my yoga muscles aren't enough to whip up marshmallows.

(My yoga muscles, for the record, *are* enough for things like lifting bed frames, hauling luggage, and flexing in the mirror.)

Let's face it, I get sweaty and exhausted whipping egg whites into stiff peaks by hand with a whisk, nevermind the sugar/corn syrup/gelatin mixture that's burns like Napalm if it hits your skin. This is all moot for me, since I have Mixmaster K in my life.

The recipe for the first batch was intended for use in ice cream, and I can see why. They aren't fluffy, but they are dense and taste better than commercial marshmallows. I was frustrated because they didn't turn out the way I had imagined. In fairness, I have an unusually fertile imagination, and things generally don't turn out the way I imagine them. Usually. I'm also blaming this on the music I was listening to- the Sweeney Todd soundtrack is a little dark and heavy.

The second batch, using the Smitten Kitchen directions, and made listening to the light and fluffy soundtrack from "Zanna, Don't!", turned out much better. There was the addition of whipped egg whites (which are plentiful, since I made goat milk ice cream last week), and what I affectionately refer to as "the Napalm component" is added to the gelatin/water mixture a little differently. Instead of wrestling with the proto-marshmallow goop like I had with batch #1, it pleasantly oozed into the oiled and sugared pan.

Here's the catch: I hate being sticky.

I can deal with mud, dust, damp, but not sticky. It just drives me crazy. I had worried that making marshmallows would end with both me and my kitchen looking like the closing scenes from Ghostbusters, but really, there was a minimum of marshmallow on my person, and the kitchen cleanup was a breeze. (The secret is hot water. A lot of hot water.)

For my next trick? We'll see how batch #2 measures up, and how they do in some test s'mores. Because being prepared can be fun *and* delicious.


  1. If you decide to not go the homemade route, the absolutely best s'mores I have ever had were made with stale peeps. (the sugar caramelizes and forms a crunchy shell, ohhhh so good)

  2. Too bad the dates for Black Sheep Gathering aren't closer to the ZombieStock (http://www.zombiestock2011.com/index.html) coming up this summer in Carlton, OR... I keep wondering what the vendors there will be selling... Homemade marshmallows, maybe?

  3. Congratulations on conquering the sticky! I made the Martha Stewart snowflake marshmallows a few years back and it was MESSY. You may have inspired to have another go... Are you going to test out homemade graham crackers from Smitten Kitchen, too?

  4. I have to agree that "Sweeney Todd" and made-from-scratch marshmallows does not appear to be a harmonious combination. (Surprised punny-ness. I think it's time for bed...)

    I take it your Mom and her knitting were not in the vicinity, else there could have been a repeat of the shawl(?)/marshmallow incident...
    But wait! She'll be around for Birthday & S'mores.
    This could be stickily interesting...
    Yeah, I'm going to bed now....

  5. Soooo get the sticky thing. That for me is torture. And it's a well known fact that a sticky floor will remain sticky for all eternity unless you wash it in its entirety with no less than 3 passes...

    FYI Ina Garten's marshmallow recipe is awesome.

    Also remember to keep Gigi and her knitting out of the test lab at all cost...

  6. Jasmin, I had no idea you have the "sticky haters" gene. I do, too, and it is serious.

  7. Dana - CaffeinejunkieMay 15, 2011 at 4:11 AM

    I used alton brown's recipe and it tasted awesome - then I did what jackie did and dipped them in melted chocolate and then grahm cracker crumbs - yummy - 1 bite smores!


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