Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blonde Rocky Road

Things have been a bit crazy over here at Mimi's Kitchen. Five baby chicks have moved into our house and they are a lively bunch. They keep us pretty busy, from building them a brand new home in our backyard, to holding them and getting to know their personalities so we can appropriately name them, and keeping an eye out for cats ready to pounce at any moment. We did, however, have time for some Marshmallow Madness in the midst of all the chick madness. Homemade marshmallows are nothing like the ones you buy in the grocery store. While those work just fine for campfire roasting, the made-from-scratch marshmallows that result from just a little bit of effort are in an entirely different category. We actually enjoyed popping them in our mouths plain, which is something we never do with the store bought bag. 

Marshalllow Madness, the new book by Shauna Sever, published by Quirk Books, is full of fun and tasty marshmallows and marshmallow treats. Shauna covers all the basic of marshallow making, from marshallow creme, flavored marshmallows,  and other treats with marshmallows as a component. Her recipes are well written and easy to follow, which is important when attempting something that sounds as complicated and intimidating as marshmallows (even though they are actually pretty easy!). We had success with all three of the recipes that we made, so I know we will use this book again for any marshmallow related creations. 

First, we made the marshmallow creme for our Tropical Carrot Pie. It was smooth and creamy with a delicious vanilla flavor. 

Next, we tried the classic vanilla marshmallow, but since we had never made miniture marshallows before we decide to give that a try. They couldn't have been easier, both to make and to snack on!

 Once we had those mini mallows in hand we made the Blonde Rocky Road candy featured in the book. This was spectacular. It was sweet from the butterscotch, salty and crunchy from the peanuts, and the marshmallows were soft and melt-in-your-mouth tender. It was those fresh little marshmallows that really made this candy special.We made it as written the first time, and were surprised that we liked the butterscotch flavor since it is not usually a favorite. We see all kinds of flavor combination for repeats of this recipe, and I think Mini Me would be pleasantly surprised to see a peanut butter version in her next care package. 

Blonde Rocky Road
Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever.

1- 12 ounce bag butterscotch chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into tablespoon size pieces.
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups homemade mini marshmallows, divided
3/4 cup salted peanuts, divided.

Line and 8x8inch (I used a 9x9inch) pan with a large sheet of aluminum foil pressing is neatly into the corners.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butterscotch chips, peanut butter and butter.  Microwave on 50% power for about 3 minutes.  Stop to stir well.  Place back in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds on 50% power and stop to stir again- it should be smooth after a bit more stirring.  If not, give it a couple more 20-second bursts of high power and stir until smooth.
Stir in the vanilla and salt.  Stir in 2 cups of the marshmallows and 1/2 cup of the peanuts.  Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining marshmallows and peanuts evenly over the top and press lightly into the candy with your palms.  Chill until set, about 15 minutes in the freezer or 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Remove the candy slab from the pan and cut it into 1 1/2 inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Printable recipe

Classic Vanilla Marshmallows
Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever

4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water.
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided.
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt.
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1/2 cup classic coating, plus more for dusting

For regular marshmalows: Lightly coat an 8x8 baking pan with cookling spray

Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and let soften for 5 minutes.

Stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup of corn syrup, water and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Boil, stiring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F.  Meanwhilw, pour remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Microwave gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds.  Pour it into the mixer bowl. Set the mixer speed to low and keep it running.

When the syrup reaches 204 degrees F., slowly pour it into the mixer bowl.  Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 5 minutes. ** Beat on the highest setting for 1-2 minutes more and beat in the vanilla: the finished marsmallows willo be opaque white fluffy, and tripled in volume.  pour into prepared pan.

** for mini marshmallows omit the last 1-2 minutes of beating on high speed instead add the vanilla during the last minute of beating on medium high speed. Load the batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a large round pastry tip.  Pipe long lines of marshmallow in parallel rows across a bakaing sheet dusted in clasic coating. Dust more clasic coating over the marshamllows and let cure.  When set, use kitchen siccors to snip the marshmallow ropes into 1/2 inch wide bits.  Roll the mini mallows in the coating right on the baking sheet, dusting off excess. Store in air tight continer.

Classic Coating:
Sift together 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar and 1 cup cornstarch or potato starch.

This was a really fun book and we will be making many more of Shauna's recipes.  If you want to add this book to your cookbook shelf you can find it at Amazon.com.

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Links: Foodie Friday @Designs by Gollum

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Carrot Ginger Cream Pie

It's time for the February Improv Challenge, hosted by Kristen at the Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. Our must-use ingredients for February were carrots and ginger. I knew from the start that I wanted to make a dessert, but I wanted to challenge myself to create something different than carrot cake or cookies. That left me with mousse, pie, souffle, and parfait as my main options. After some thought, I came up with Carrot Ginger Cream Pie.

Light and sweet with a tropical undertone,  the carrot part is a carrot-ginger-pineapple puree with freshly made marshmallow creme and whipped cream folded in, all piled into a gingersnap crust. I used Trader Joe's triple ginger gingersnap cookies for the crust. They have a great punch of ginger flavor with ground, fresh and crystallized ginger, and are nice and cripsy so they are perfect for crusts. The crust was slightly spicy and crisp, but nicely balanced by the sweetness of the carrot-pineapple puree. The hint of ginger in the filling complemented the crust, and really pulled everything together. The whipped cream/marshmallow creme mixture was excellent all on its own, and would make a great frosting or filling for other cakes and cookies.
This was a pretty simple dessert to put together. The most challenging component was the marshmallow creme, and although you could buy some at the grocery store, I think it is worth the effort to make it at home, especially since the rest of the dessert is easy. The marshmallow creme comes from a soon to be published book, Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever (Quirk Books). I'll post more about this book in my next post.

Carrot Ginger Cream Pie
Carrot puree:
1 lb carrots
1 can crushed pineapple or pineapple juice
1/3 cup sugar
Crystallized ginger - I used 4 nice sized pieces, chopped.This resulted in a very mild ginger note. I will probably use a bit more next time.

Peel and cut the carrots into one inch pieces and place in a sauce pan with enough juice from the pineapple to cover the carrots. Add the sugar and crystallized ginger and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and let the carrots cook until soft, about 20 minutes.

When carrots are soft remove them from the heat and allow to cool. Puree carrots and juice in blender until smooth and velvety, adding additional water as necessary to get an ultra smooth puree. Return puree to sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to evaporate the liquid. You will know that it's done when you drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and the puree doesn't flow back together.Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until needed. This can be made a day or two ahead of time.

1 1/2 cups ginger snap crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine crumbs and butter until thoroughly mixed. Reserve 1/3 cup for garnish and press the remaining crumbs into 6 individual pie dishes or one 9 inch pie dish. Place pie dish(es) on a rimmed cookie sheet. Put the reserved crumbs in an extra dish baking dish and bake along side the pie crust. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes to set crust and toast remaining crumbs.

Marshmallow Creme
Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever
1/2 cup light corn syrup 
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Stir together the sugar, light corn syrup, water and salt in a small saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 204 degrees F.

2. Place egg whites and cream of tarter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start whipping the egg whites on medium speed. You want them to form soft peaks. The goal is to have the egg whites whipped and ready, waiting for your syrup to be drizzled in.  If they're whipped faster than your syrup is coming to temperature, just stop the mixer until the syrup is ready. 

3.When the syrup has reached 240 degrees F, set the mixer to low and slowly drizzle a tiny bit of syrup, a couple tablespoons' worth, into the egg whites to warm them. (If you add too much syrup at once, the egg whites will scramble.) Slowly drizzle in the rest of the syrup and then increase the speed to medium -high. Beat until the marshmallow creme is stiff and glossy, 7 to 9 minutes; towards the end of the beating time, beat in the vanilla. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla.
Start mixer at low speed and gradually increase the speed to high. Whip until cream hold medium to firm peaks.

Remove the carrot puree from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Prepare and cool crust. Fold in about 2/3 of the marshmallow creme into the carrot puree until completely incorporated. Now fold in the whipped cream until no streaks of white remain. Divide among prepared crusts. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

2/3 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoon sugar 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
remaining marshmallow creme.
Reserved ginger snap crumbs

In bowl of electric mixer whip cream, vanilla, and sugar until soft peaks form. Slowly add the marshmallow creme to the whipped cream. Pipe a decorative boarder around edge(s) of pie(s) and sprinkle the reserved crumbs in the center.
printable recipe

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Heart Cakes

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's time to pack up a box of treats to send to Mini Me. She loves homemade granola, so she always get a big container of that, and this time we threw in some cute Valentine's socks, a box of Tagalogs (her favorite Girl Scout cookie) and some heart cakes.

I've tried several vanilla cake recipes in search of the "perfect one". I wanted a recipe that didn't use cake flour and didn't leave me with too many orphaned egg yolks. After many trials, we finally came up with this recipe; it has a velvety crumb and a delicate vanilla flavor. Be sure and use very good vanilla extract since that is what makes these cakes so tasty.

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 egg whites.

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add vanilla to milk and set both aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until fluffy again. Add egg and then egg whites, mixing until just combined.
4. Add 1/2 the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until just combined. Slowly add the milk mixture and beat until combined. Add the remaining flour and beat until blended. Scrape the sides of the bowl between each addition and at the end, making sure all the ingredients are mixed in.
5. Divide the mixture evenly among 12 muffin tins and bake in a 350 oven for 22-25 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack. Frost when completely cool.
 printable recipe
To make the heart cakes, I used a silicone heart shaped muffin pan and even though it says non stick, I greased and floured the muffin wells to ensure easy release from the pan. When they were completely cool I dipped them in Wilton candy melts, making sure to completely cover all sides because when the cake is completely covered it helps to keep them fresh. For these cakes, I decorated them with sugar hearts I had on hand but sometimes I drizzle a contrasting color of candy melts over the top or use food writers and decorate them like conversation hearts.