Friday, February 15, 2013

Pucker Up!

Growing up, one of my major objectives was to see how many marshmallows I could stuff into my mug of hot chocolate without sacrificing any of that delicious drink.  Since my mom tried to keep junk food out of the house, marshmallows were a rare treat anyway, usually reserved for the chilly holiday season, so I hoarded them, often sneaking a few from the bag and right into my maw when she wasn't looking.

The apple doesn't fall far, does it?
She's just more brazen than I was.
When the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man was destroyed at the end of Ghostbusters, all I wanted to know is if there was a giant s'more making effort.  The lack of closure here still haunts me.
The first time I ever had Lucky Charms, in college, I was horrified at what qualified as a "marshmallow" and was kind of thankful I'd been ignorant of the horrors within the red box for my entire childhood.
As I've gotten older, I have marshmallows more and more rarely, partly because I have fewer occasions to partake in them, but mostly because I'm less and less enthralled with the mallows that are found at the grocery store.  While surely my taste buds have changed, I can't help but feel that the commercial marshmallows have gone further and further away from that treat the ancient Egyptians made from the marsh-mallow plant sap thousands of years ago (insert nostalgic sigh).
Cornstarch overload aside, I still yearn, each time I treat myself to a cup of cocoa, to fill the top quarter third of my cup with that sweet, gooey confection.
Since I'd been obsessing about marshmallows for a good while, when my group of blogging friends, whom I've affectionately come to call The Theme Weavers (prepare for the parody song soon) decided to see how many sweet confections we could put together in a week, I knew that I needed to try my hand at marshmallows.
The Internet let me know that I had made The Right Decision when, a few weeks ago, Jenni Field, the brilliant and wonderful personality behind Pastry Chef Online, hosted a Google+ hangout (think live webchat) on the art of these lovely candies.  Even though my old laptop kept freezing on me, I saw enough to let marshmallows emerge from the murky shadows of candy-making, giving me the courage to get in the kitchen.

I followed Jenni's recipe and directions (which are at the same time thorough and entertaining) carefully.  I cannot add anything helpful to that recipe, and all the credit of my success is due to my ability to follow Jenni's direction.
I need to point out, however, that I made two minor alterations to suit my needs:
  1. Instead of cocoa powder, I added 1 Tbsp finely ground lemon zest into the water and gelatin mixture (whenever I use a lemon, I zest it and then freeze the zest, so I have a large stash that's nice and dry and easy to grind up in the spice grinder).
  2. Instead of vanilla extract, I used my homemade lemon extract.
Obviously, I was going for a lemon theme.

After the syrup had reached the proper temperature and all ingredients whipping away (Watson, my KitchenAid, has never worked at full strength before, so it was a big night for both of us), I couldn't help it.  I had to taste.

Whip it good!
Right then I knew.

You guys.
These marshmallows are life changing.  Seriously.  They are going to change everything you ever thought you knew about marshmallows.

Oh, the lemon aroma and flavor is intense, and while I had dreamed of a lemon marshmallow, the citrusy flavor coupled with the marshmallow's texture was a little surprising at first.  But then I had a second third fourth marshmallow, and all was right with the world.  The bright tartness of the lemon balances that sometimes overwhelming sweetness that is The Mallow.

But what about fitting a whole bunch of marshmallows into my cup of cocoa?
The good news is that with these bad boys, I only need one.

While you're still reeling from all the mallow-y goodness, please make sure that you check out all the other amazing sweets made by my friends.  We've got us a sugar fix to please any size sweet tooth.
Cakes, cookies, and cremes, oh my!  No matter what kind of sweet makes you cave, we've got it covered.


  1. Allison....I've been so looking forward to this post! I've yet to make home made marshmallows, but I can think of no better way to start then with lemony ones! These look fabulous! And when I was a kid, not only did we try to fit a million marshmallows in our cocoa cups, we had contests to see how many we could fit in our mouths!

    1. Thank you, Anne - they really were so much easier than I thought - Jenni really makes it such a simple process as long as one has a candy thermometer! :) I love Chubby Bunny, too! Hahaha! I don't think I could put more than one of these in my mouth the way I cut them, though.

  2. Lemon is exactly what a super-sweet homemade marshmallow needs! One of these days, I'm going to go beyond homemade marshmallow fluff to the real deal. The photo with HRH swiping a mallow is priceless.

    1. I'm not sure I can go back to unflavored mallows. Ever. Jenni made orange ones that I swooned over, and I have some other ideas that would be seasonally appropriate. Can you imagine combining homemade mallows with Kat's s'mores on a stick? I'm dying at the thought, really. And thanks - HRH thought she was darn sneaky!

  3. I think homemade marshmallows are the new slutty brownie of 2013. Everyone's going to be doing it. I've never had a lemon marshmallow, but now I want to try them. From there, the possibilities are endless. PS - I love that you cut them in squares as big as your fist. You're totally my kind of gal.

    1. I'm not sure there really is another Acceptable Way. Go big or go home, right?

  4. I never would have thought about lemon marshmallows - and I think that somehow, someway there needs to be a version of a s'more with lemon marshmallows in betwixed some grahams. This is imperative.

    1. I am currently creating a Google Doc for the family's Easter get together so that I can call dibs on dessert. Homemade s'mores round the fire? Um, yes. You should probably get right on that too.
      The lemon was great. They aren't the same texture as a store marshmallow, but I'm sure you know how I feel about which is superior.

  5. One time my mom made rice krispie treats, but accidentally sprayed the pan with lemon pam (don't ask). Her mishap was a surprisingly delicious turn of events. Now I want to make these mallows, eat them by the fistful, and then make lemony krispie treats! Thanks, Allison!

    1. I didn't even know that they made lemon Pam, but I think this is a FABULOUS idea. Currently contemplating other flavors in honor of MarchMallowMadness.