Thursday, November 25, 2010

Keeping it Mallow

     Happy Thanksgiving all. As I sit here, I just put my turkey in the oven. I brined it overnight and excited for how it will turn out. I noticed while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, that some Christmas elf in the North Pole flipped the switch for holiday commercials. Wow, it is amazing just how much we are creatures of habit. Did I mention how much I love YouTube. I am a child of the eighties, so I had to watch the Christmas commercials from the eighties. It is like the Willy Wonka
factory of videos, you search one thing and the suggestion box, lures you in to watch other videos. I went from Christmas commercials to Cajun Christmas to Christmas light shows. The insanity of it all. I could have had this posted an hour ago.
     I am anxious to see how brining a turkey, will differ from traditionally throwing it in the oven the morning of. My cat Giggle is assessing my typing skills, I get too close to him he swipes me. I wonder why sitting smack dab in the front of the screen is so attractive. But it is a typical Thanksgiving day so far, the turkey is starting to smell great, kids are playing video games and the husband watching football. Christmas is on the horizon, and I couldn't be happier. I have already started making marshmallows at the bakery and grateful that I have been able to get them started. Last year, I tried like crazy to get them going, it just never happened, other things constantly popped up. The marshmallows are a favorite around here. I think at times they are almost to ornate to put in a cup of hot chocolate.

      Marshmallows in the 1900's came from the juice of the Marsh-mallow plant it was cooked with egg whites and sugar. It was then whipped into a meringue that hardened, and was given to children with sore throats. The plant had medicinal properties such as a cough suppressant, immunity booster and wound healer. Unfortunately the recipe changed and gelatin replaced the sap. France developed the "Starch Mogul System" and the face of marshmallow production changed forever.  In 1948 the "extrusion process" by Alex Doumakes was invented, allowing the ingredients of marshmallows to be run through tubes, where they are cut, cooled and packaged. In a sense, taking away the from the heart touch.

     The beauty thing about marshmallows, is it almost always brings me back to camping. Sitting around a roaring campfire, the twisting flames rising up into the night sky. The smell of burning wood, filling my nostrils and saturating my clothes.Sitting close to the warmth, the backside cold and quiet.  Toasting marshmallows with a stick that you specially picked out for the job. Toasted on the outside, deep browns with specks of black, gooey white centers, only to be snapped up by crispy graham crackers and rich milk chocolate. Our breath begins to show in the air, and it is colder. The shadows dance along the tents and it is time for sleep. Snuggling deep into sleeping bags as the fire dies and the dawn makes her familiar climb.
     Here is a recipe for marshmallows. I have made several different kinds, so use your imagination and create your own.

Vermont Maple Marshmallows

1/2 cup powdered sugar(used for dusting)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup hot water(110-115F)
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup cold water
3 Tbs powdered gelatin
3 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla
pan spray

Cover a 13x9 pan with tinfoil and spray heavily with pan spray. Dust with powdered sugar. In a mixer, whip the 3 egg whites with the vanilla to stiff peaks and set aside. In another mixing bowl, place the 1/2 cup cold water and sprinkle the three tablespoons of gelatin and allow to bloom. In a saucepan, mix the sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, salt and hot water. On a medium high heat with a wooden spoon continuously stir the mixture until it reaches 240F on a candy thermometer. Once the temperature is reached, add the hot sugar mix to the gelatin and water and whip on high speed until very white, double in size and the mixer is starting to labor to whip it, maybe about 12 minutes. Shut off mixer and add egg whites and mix on low until egg whites are well incorporated. Add the maple extract and mix. Pour out into the prepared 13x9 pan, and level off. Dust with the remaining powdered sugar and allow to sit overnight.  Next day, turn out on a cutting surface cut and serve.
Seize the moment.  Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.~Erma Bombeck


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