Posts Tagged ‘ marshmallows ’

Marshmallow season

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Tomorrow we’re listing our Easter marshmallows on Etsy. We’ve been busy. In the last two weeks we’ve newly minted lemon, lime, orange, chocolate malt and s’mores marshmallows. We’ve also remade favorites vanilla and strawberry.

S'mores

More smores

Napolean would be proud

Marshmallow is the new chocolate bunny

Three little bunnies heads

Advertising

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Today I ran an ad on Etsy for our Guinness marshmallows. It’s the first ad I’ve ever run for any product where success is measured in sales. Unfortunately based on that metric, it wasn’t a very successful ad. The $7 Etsy showcase led to 40 views, 5 favorites and 0 sales. From Twitter and Facebook I had 50 views and 2 sales. The Etsy was cheap enough for me to try, but it was apparently so cheap that it didn’t have the focus or impact.

We are trying to sell marshmallows, but my real motivation in the paid promotion was learning more about online sales strategy. The vagaries of niche online sales has always intrigued me and it’s fun to finally be on the selling side.

Tomorrow I may try running $7 worth of Google ads to see if those generate any different a result. I’m also thinking about some sort of referral bonus to see if that generates any sales. Ideas or experiences are welcome.

Guinness marshmallows

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Guinness times two

We’re selling Guinness marshmallows rolled in pretzels for St Patrick’s Day this year. They’re on Etsy and currently at $10/dozen. It’s hard to describe any novel taste, but imagine eating a bite of vanilla ice cream five minute after drinking a Guinness and you probably have a good idea what these taste like.

The pretzels offer a great salty contrast that we think seals the deal. We’ll sell them without the pretzels if you want.

If you have idea for other marshmallow flavors, let me know and we can make to order. Right now chocolate and a remake of raspberry are at the top of the queue.

Valentine’s on Etsy

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Made for each other

Jenn and I started a shop at Etsy. We’re selling marshmallows made to impress any would-be Valentine. Within 5 minutes of the listing we had our first sale which was exciting.

Right now we have some Valentine’s Day themed marshmallows listed. We’re shipping the orders next week so the confections will be as fresh as can be on the 14th. Tell your friends!

The how-to and why-to of making marshmallows

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Marshmallows!

It’s hard to argue against the marshmallow. A marshmallow is a perfect bite of fluffy flavored sugar. It will improve hot chocolate, sweet potatoes, graham crackers, trail mix and just about anything else it comes into contact with. On its own, the marshmallow is all the taste of a cupcake at half the mess and mass.

At least, that’s your experience so long as you’re not buying marshmallows at a grocery store. Store-bought marshmallows are a shadow of what they could for two main reasons:

  1. Store-bought marshmallows have lesser ingredients. The vanilla flavoring is made of a series of different chemicals that approximates the taste of real vanilla. There are instances where imitation vanilla would taste better, but in food where vanilla is the dominant taste, without the real stuff, you’re missing out. With handmade marshmallows you can use cane sugar too, which provides a more complex taste and binds to the vanilla and gelatin different than beet sugar or corn syrup would.
  2. They’re sealed in an airtight bag. When marshmallows are made, they are mixed. The mixing process allows the batter to expand and breath air into the confection. It needs that air to continue to retain its puffy shape and smooth texture. Marshmallows sold in air-locked bags will either dry out or lean on chemical preservatives to maintain form at the expense of taste.

The superior taste of a handmade marshmallow isn’t the only reason to make them. When you’re handcrafting any food you control the taste. Tonight we’re making a batch of passion fruit marshmallows. We could make strawberry, cherry, caramel, honey— there’s almost no limit to the flavor combinations we could use. The extra flavors introduce extra uses: Right now when I drink a cup of tea I use a few spoonfuls of sugar. I could make lemon or honey marshmallows and let that serve as my tea’s sweetener. Or I could purée banana and cut thinner sandwich-sized slices of mallow and have incredible fluffernutter sandwiches.

All these benefits come at little extra cost and a minimal amount of time. At Walmart you can get 28 large marshmallows for just under $3. Our first batch cost us a little more, but the subsequent batches will cost less since we have leftover ingredients. We spent 60 minutes from first measure to pouring the completed marshmallow into the dish to set and yielded more than 100 large marshmallows — the equivalent to two or three store-bought bag’s worth.

Syrup swirlWeather report calls for a light dustingProper goodie bag

So how do you make marshmallows?

Before you start thinking about making your own, you need two pieces of kitchen equipment: A mixer and a candy thermometer. Without a good mixer you’d have to hand-mix the mallow mixture for 1o minutes. Even if you could manage to evenly mix cups of thickening creme, the mixture starts off at 240°F. That not an ideal temperature for anything you’d want to hand-mix.

A candy thermometer is critical because most cooking thermometers can only handle up to 220°F. They aren’t designed or made to read or even withstand higher temperatures. A candy thermometer reads up to 500°F (hard candy gets hot!) and comes with a clip that attaches to the side of even a deep pot so you can continuously measure the temperature of boiling confections. The chemical processes involved in reconstituting sugar, gelatin, vanilla, water, cream of tartar and salt into a marshmallow require really specific temperature triggers and without accurate temperature readings you’d have a hard time succeeding with this recipe.

If you have the mixer and the thermometer – or want to throw caution to the wind! — here’s what it takes to make your own vanilla marshmallows:

Cubist confections

Step 1: Make the syrup
Ingredients
2 cups of water
5 1/3 cups of granulated cane sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt

Notes:
If it doesn’t say “cane sugar” it’s probably beet sugar. You can try beet sugar, but beet sugar doesn’t cook the same as cane sugar.

Stir all the ingredients together in a four quart pot.
Bring to a boil over medium high then cover the pot for two minutes. (The covered pot will trap the steam and wash any sugar crystals off the interior of the pan back into the mix.)
Uncover the pot and turn the temperature to high.
Do not stir!
Insert the candy thermometer and cook until you reach 240°F. (This took about 7 minutes for us.)
Once it hits 240°F, remove the pot from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.
Store excess syrup in a jar for future mallow-making. The leftover syrup will last for months. If you want to reuse it, microwave it for a couple of minutes until it’s softened without stirring.

Step 2: Make the bloom
Ingredients
1/2 cup and 2 tb cold water
1 1/2 tb vanilla extract (We used 1 tb double strength vanilla instead)
3 tb unflavored gelatin

Measure cold water into measuring cup and add vanilla.
Place gelatin into small mixing bowl.
Pour water / vanilla mix over gelatin while stirring with a whisk until there are no lumps.
Set mixing bowl near stove.

Step 3: Make the base
Ingredients
3/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup syrup
1 1/3 granulated cane sugar
pinch of salt

Notes:
You can use corn syrup instead of handmade marshmallow syrup. But corn syrup is even more different from cane sugar syrup than beet sugar syrup would be, so expect odd results.
Use a four quart pan. We used a three quart pan and nearly boiled over numerous times.

Spray bottom and sides of pot with Pam and wipe lightly.
Stir ingredients into four quart pan.
Bring to boil over medium heat.
Place lid on the pot for two minutes. (Again, this melts down any sugar crystals on the side of the pot.)
Remove the lid and insert the thermometer.
Do not stir!
Boil until 250°F then remove the thermometer and gently stir in the bloom with a silicone spatula (or something else that is safe in that heat). Every time you add more bloom, the batter will boil up, but going slower didn’t really reduce the foam for us.
Pour the batter into mixer bowl.

Step 4: Mix the batter
Beat the batter on high speed for 11 minutes using a wire whisk in a mixer. The batter starts off incredibly hot and prone to splash, so cover the bowl and mixer with a towel if you plan on standing nearby.

Step 5: Pour the marshmallow creme into a pan to set
Spray a pan with Pam / cooking spray. (We used a 13″x9″ baking dish which gave us marshmallows about 1″ deep.)
Remove the mixing bowl and pour the batter into a pan. You may need to help the batter with a spoon or spatula.
Wet your hand with warm water and smooth down the marshmallow creme to an even surface.

Notes:
The marshmallow creme is incredibly sticky. It will stick to anything it touches. But since it’s basically just sugar, warm water will melt it away so cleanup is a cinch.

Step 6: Wait
The marshmallow won’t set for hours. The creme is delicious, but if you’ve come this far resist temptation and let the creme harden into a proper marshmallow slab. If you don’t wait long enough, you’ll have a gooey mess that won’t cut or hold shape.

Step 7: Cutting and coating the marshmallows
Ingredients
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch

Sift the sugar and cornstarch together. If you want to add a finishing flavor you could sift in small amounts of different spices like 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder, 2 tsp cinnamon, etc.

Lightly cover a cutting board with the coating.
Pull the mallow from the edges of the pan and flip pan onto cutting board. If the pan and cutting board and nearly the same size, you can cover the pan with the board first then flip them together.
Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the marshmallows into cubes. You could cut to shapes too. These are your creations so cut however you want, but remember that squares will offer the least wasted marshmallow.
Cover each marshmallow with the coating and place in a container.

Notes:
You can store the marshmallows in a glass or plastic container. Remember that you want them to breathe while in storage, so don’t close the lid all the way. At room temperature your marshmallows will keep for two weeks, presuming someone doesn’t eat them first.

We made more than 100 inch-thick marshmallows and we wasted a fair amount of creme before setting the batter. With time that recipe should yield another dozen or two. We gave our creations to coworkers, friends and neighbors and found that few gifts brighten up a day like a small batch marshmallow.

Nothing tastes so sweet as a marshmallow you made yourself. Along the way you’ll have fun, save money and follow whatever flavor whims you come up with. You’ll probably make a lot of people happy in the process. So perhaps instead of asking “why make your own marshmallows?” the better question is, “why not?”

Better ingredients

Slow down pour

Mallow slab

Christmas gifts fulfilled

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Slow down pour

For Christmas I gave Jenn a candy thermometer so that we could make confections. Marshmallows were at the top of the list. Jenn and I gave Sebastian a pair of cleats with the promise I’d take him on soccer dates throughout this year. I brought home from our NYC trip two small bags of insect pins for future bug pinnings with the kids.

Trapped

Though all three gifts were exchanged at the same time, I didn’t expect much overlap in fulfillment. But this morning Sebastian found a hornet which we promptly caught. Then this afternoon we played soccer for a while. And tonight Jenn and I made marshmallows. Once everyone fell asleep I pinned the bug, briefly bringing into convergence three otherwise divergent gifts.