Sweetening the Pot(luck)

Cut Marshies
Separating the cut Marshmallows.

Since we had a convocation for Casey’s school, Kenai Peninsula College, coming up, we wanted to do something special for the potluck. Last year, we made gravlax, from sockeye we’d caught, Alaskan sourdough crackers, with a starter our daughter got running, and spicy mustard, with local craft beer as the base. Everything was a hit!

This year, we wanted to knock it out of the park in the dessert department, so we turned to Alton for our inspiration.

Good Eats, Season 11, Episode 183 – “Puff the Magic Mallow”

In Good Eats 3, we found the recipe from the episode on marshmallows. Common enough in (often stale) bags at the grocery store, Alton promised us a more sublime experience from the homemade version.

Good Eats 3
Good Eats 3: The Later Years

And he delivered!

You can find his recipe on the Food Network site: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-marshmallows-recipe.html

While the recipe is easy enough, let us suggest some pitfalls to avoid and options to add.

Pitfalls

Pitfall #1: Not all the gelatin “blooms”

Make sure ALL of the gelatin is in on the bloom or it may not set up completely.

Pitfall #2: Give the sugar mixture a quick stir in the 2-quart pan before heating

Our first batch had sugar residue in the pan, which messed with consistency.

Pitfall #3: Too much oil

Alton says to “lightly spray” the pan before dusting it, but that turned out to be way too much. Instead, on subsequent batches, Jim sprayed the oil onto a paper towel and rubbed in a light layer by hand, which gave a much more even coating to the pan.

Pitfall #4: That cornstarch & confectioner’s sugar mixture does not move!

Seriously, once you tap the mixture into the pan, getting it to move around on the oil coating is a chore. It is not at all like flouring a cake pan. Be prepared to battle a stubborn powder to successfully coat your pan and, later, your marshmallows.

Adding the cooked ingredients to the bloomed gelatin.
Adding the cooked ingredients to the bloomed gelatin.

To personalize the marshmallows for our schools, we made four batches, each representing one of the colors of our schools. KPC sports blue and silver, so we made Blue Vanilla Cherry Almond and White Coconilla Fluff. KPC is the affiliate school to the University of Alaska Anchorage (where Jim teaches), and their colors are green and gold. For the UAA marshmallows, we went with Green Lemon Fluff (couldn’t find lime extract in Soldotna) and Yellow Bananilla Fluff.

For each batch, we made a substitute for the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract Alton calls for in his recipe.

Ready to add the extracts and coloring
Ready to add the extracts and coloring.

Blue Vanilla Cherry Almond – ½ tsp vanilla extract, ½ tsp cherry extract, ½ tsp almond extract, 10 drops blue food coloring

Coconilla – 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp coconut extract

Lemon – 1 tsp lemon extract, 10 drops green food coloring

Bananilla – 1 tsp vanilla, ½ tsp banana extract, 10 drops yellow food coloring

Spreading the fluff into the prepared pan.
Spreading the fluff into the prepared pan.

The Verdict

We would definitely make these again, and we are now on the lookout for interesting extracts to try. We also hope to use some of the coconilla marshmallows in s’mores yet this summer, and the lemon and bananilla are crying out to be used as fluff to top pies, maybe brûlée the top for toasted peaks.

Thanks for this one, Alton!