When Peach was a baby, we would often be stopped by strangers because of her cute, wide eyes and numerous rolls of fat encircling each limb. She would stare contentedly at whatever googly-eyed adult was trying to make her smile and firmly not smile back. Grub, however, was smiling at seven weeks old at pretty much anyone who glanced at him. When a baby, he was also a smaller version of Peach in size, with substantial meaty thighs but not nearly as many rolls as Peach. What he lacked in size, he made up for in smiles, kisses, and a strong-willed attitude just like his sister. After noting Peach’s stubbornness versus Grub’s seemingly laid back attitude from the start, Eat and I thought, Great! Our second born is a chill kid. He and Peach will balance each other. Come to find out as Grub approached his second year that the ‘terrible twos’ can come early, even for the once-thought laid back kid. The arrival of Baby Sister Sky-Girl only made his attitude escalate, the ‘evil three-vils’ more challenging than the twos, he and Peach one minute loving to play together and the next at odds with each other.
While those two are head-to-head, it is Sky-Girl who now draws the eyes of strangers with her plump, ruddy cheeks, roly-poly legs, and wide, toothless smile and giggles. She doesn’t have quite the heft of Baby Peach, nor the impervious smile of Baby Grub, but a fair mix of the two. And with my daily obsession to kiss those cheeks and raspberry those baby thighs came my inspiration to make marshmallows again. My first marshmallows graced my kitchen in Chicago in 2008. So impressed was I with my creation, I knew that I had to reprise the recipe with a little more flavor. And so here I am.
Despite the mild California winters, I am craving something more appropriate for a cold winter, huddled on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and fresh melty marshmallows atop. (I just can’t bring myself to consider our California weather “cold.”) The cure for my craving: a soft, pillowy sweetness. Marshmallows were actually originally medicinal, made from the root of the Althaea officinalis plant. The versions we find in the store are a far cry from these original recipes, medicinal perhaps only in the flavor. To make authentic marshmallows, one only needs honey, water, gelatin, vanilla, and marshmallow root. I’m sure I could scrounge up some marshmallow root for this recipe, but my pantry called with alternative ingredients, specifically, corn syrup. There may be some naysayers, some corn backlashers out there. I get it, I do. But sometimes that leftover junk in the pantry from who-knows-when just has to get used up. Plus, marshmallows are best enjoyed in small quantities. A couple of bites of non-high fructose corn syrup won’t kill you. But eating up those baby rolls on Peach, rounded up by Grub’s and Sky-Girl’s, those could choke you!
Next up: homemade Rocky Road — use these marshmallows!
Two years ago: bulgarian eggplant dip
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin powder (each package 7.2g so you need a total of 21.6g)
- 1 cup strongly brewed coffee, chilled and divided
- 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1½ cups
- 1 cup light corn syrup*
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon coffee extract (optional)**
- ¼ cup confectioners' sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- butter, to grease pan
- Special equipment: candy thermometer
- Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with ½ cup of the cold coffee. Attach the whisk, poised at the ready.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ½ cup cold coffee, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Uncover the saucepan, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, about 10 minutes, then immediately remove from heat.
- Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture.
- Once syrup is all added, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes (mine took about 12 minutes in a cool kitchen). Add the vanilla extract and coffee extract during the last minute of whipping.
- Prepare the pan: While the mixture is whipping, combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch metal baking pan with butter.
- Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the small bowl for later.
- When ready, pour the whipped mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula or fingers for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
- Turn the ivory-colored marshmallow pillow, the best pillow ever!, out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture or a kitchen scissors. I use both: the pizza wheel to cut strips, then the scissors to snip into squares. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.