Thursday, November 13, 2008
Another Culinary Misadventure
Today I killed the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I cut him up into many, many perfect little square bits, just like those that you see here.
These are from his left buttock.
I think he looks much better like this, don't you?
You don't believe me?
Yes, I do stretch the truth a bit, don't I?
Okay, here's the deal. Last night I was trying to make a dent in my three-years behind pile of magazines, and I came across a recipe for Homemade Marshmallows in the July issue of Bon Appetit. I don't know why, but immediately I decided that I wanted to try to make them.
I was curious.
I'm not a big fan of marshmallows unless they're rock hard and stale, but I was just curious in a messy science experiment kind of way.
The ingredients list is relatively simple: water, unflavored gelatin, sugar, light corn syrup (more sugar), salt, vanilla extract, powdered sugar (really!) and potato starch.
Yes, potato starch.
I don't know about you, but I was not aware that potato starch was a cooking ingredient. How do you get potato starch?
Do you boil potatoes and then use the potato water?
Do you beat the crap out of the potato until it cries Uncle and releases it's starchy bits?
According to Bon Appetit, potato starch is a food thickener made from cooked, dried, ground potatoes. It's a gluten-free flour and is also known as potato flour. It's available at most supermarkets.
Oh really? Define most. Really. Because in my neck of the woods it is not available at most supermarkets.
I had to drive all over town to find it.
To two different stores.
In the snow.
Seriously though, get this. My mother-in-law, The Barefoot Contessa, bought me a subscription to Bon Appetit fifteen years ago and she renews my subscription a few times every year so I have a paid subscription through 2057. I sure hope I live that long.
I love my Bon Appetit subscription. I've found many of my favorite recipes out of this magazine, but every single recipe seems to have some sort of hoity toity ingredient not common to the average kitchen. Many of these ingredients are not cheap as well. And one other thing, if the recipe calls for butter, you can be sure that it's unsalted butter they want.
I don't concern myself with such silly little details though. I improvise. Plain old butter is good enough and it has never caused a problem for me. Butter is my friend.
I don't even allow margarine in my house. Ever. It's ugly. And I firmly believe that if you're going to eat the fat calories, they better be worth it. Make them count.
Back to that hoity toity potato starch flour stuff. This is what I found.
Potatoes are in the ingredient list so I went with it. I think it was a good call too.
The first step is to line a metal pan (no round edges is the only reason I could come up with) with aluminum foil and then spray the foil with cooking spray. If I had it to do over again I would make sure that foil covered all the edges as well and that I sprayed every millimeter of it.
Sometimes I'm a little impatient and I like to cut corners.
Dissolve the gelatin in water. Let it stand for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, start to heat the water, sugars and salt. Bring it to a boil and continue boiling until it reaches 240 degrees.
Then I put it in my stand mixture with the gelatin water mixture and beat it with the whisk attachment on high for 15 minutes.
It was cool to watch the mixture become marshmallow.
This is taking forever.
Okay, it's looking heavy and stiff now.
No, it's not Pickle's personality, it's marshmallow!
Oh shoot! I'm supposed to be nice.
I'll try harder.
Spread it in the pan. It's not as easy as it sounds. The marshmallow is sticky and sticks to everything. I would have taken a picture but I was stuck to my spatula by long stringy strands of marshmallow that kept grabbing at everything in my kitchen.
I got it all over myself.
It reminded me of walking through a spiderweb and the more I tried to get it off me, the more I became entangled.
I would have taken a picture, but I didn't want marshmallow all over my camera.
Once I wrestled it into the pan, I let it sit at room temperature for four hours.
Then I plopped it out onto the counter that I had dusted with the powdered sugar and potato flour mixture. This is what keeps the marshmallow from sticking to everything.
Ha! Everything else I mean.
I then cut it into cubes and rolled each marshmallow in the powdery mixture.
This is why marshmallows feel like they're covered in foot powder.
I like the look of these, but I don't think I would make them again. They were good, but like I said, I really like hard, stale marshmallows and these are fresh, smooth and silky.
They were pretty easy to make though, so if you like fresh marshmallows, I say knock yourself out. You'll probably be glad you did.
Here's the entire recipe. And as an accompaniment, perhaps you would like to make my Classic Cocoa mix? What a great gift, the cocoa mix and homemade marshmallows--brilliant!