Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sweet Treats- Marshmallows and Nut Brittle

My friends over at Peanut Butter Etouffee gave me some ideas of some sweet treats to cook for the holiday season. With some time this weekend and an overwheelming obsession to make both these treats, I jumped in full force.

Now what could be so exciting about making marshmallows and peanut brittle? Simply I've never made them before and I'm game for a challenge.

With further research I found a post over on egullet with a recipe submitted by nightscotman for strawberry marshmallows and variations including chocolate marshmallows. What the heck, let's go for it. I headed to Surfas for a few items like a non-glass candy thermometer taking PBE's recommendation. Guess what they had on display immediately to your right at the customer service desk as you walk in the door. Homemade marshmallows by what appears to be an independent baker on consignment (sorry I don't recall the name). Four large marshmallows of varying flavors with some cute sparkling something coating them and looking like tempting little pillows. At $4.95 for four, they better be good. I didn't purchase any as I am gonna make my own but truth be told, I was tempted.

For the peanut brittle, I purchased some raw mixed nuts and some almonds from Trader Joe. They didn't have any raw peanuts. I also thought of using some pecans which I already had at home.

So here we go. I actually looked forward to this project. Can't say I lost sleep but I did wake up during the night with thoughts of puffy pillowy marshmallows all around me. I must be sick.

I used the egullet recipe for the marshmallows and Miss Lillian's recipe from Peanut Butter Etouffee for the nut brittle.

My marshmallow flavors included a vanilla version, chocolate and lemon.

Sugar, corn syrup, water and salt to temp

Chocolate, gelatin and water

Lemon, gelatin and water

Chocolate and lemon proofing, vanilla cut

Vanilla Marshmallows Proofing

Ready to be Cut and Dusted

Nut Brittle Prep

To temp

Nuts added- cook to light amber color


Will I ever do this again? Yes. I really enjoyed the prep especially with the marshmallows. The end result of combining sugar, water, gelatin and some heat is far out. What did I learn from this experience? The nut brittle was the hardest. Once I added the nuts, I had a hard time determining when the color was just right. Just a couple of seconds over and it came out burnt tasting. (Yes, I made three batches.) I also question the amount of baking soda. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons but I can't get over the baking soda taste in the end product. The final mixing of the brittle for 30 seconds minimum is absolutely necessary to assure that the baking soda is evenly blended but keep in mind the brittle still cooks some while you're stiring in that hot pot. My second batch was better but still not perfect. Better mixing lead to less baking soda taste.

The marshmallows were the most fun. I really love the lemon flavored ones. I can think of all sorts of confectionary ideas for using it. Other flavors which are a must try for me are strawberry and raspberry. I even thought of some spice blend resemblant of sweet potato pie. Stop me before I go nuts. I'll also have to try the cookie cutter idea for making varying shapes. This could be a new fad comparable to cupcakes. There are all sorts of things to do with homemade marshmallows. Who knew? Marshmallows, the confection of 2007.


Acme Instant Food said...

I've heard such horror stories of making marshmallows and you've single-handedly dispelled them all! Bravo! I want one of those chocolate pieces right now!

Anonymous said...

Glad you tried the pnut brittle. It can be a challenge. I do have trouble finding the raw nuts and was tempted to try others but finally went to Whole Foods and they have them. This year I used the ones with the red skins and I don't think it affected the flavor.

Anonymous said...

I love making marshmallows but can you tell me how you made the lemon ones. What did you use?

Sylvie said...

Acme, I also made some vanilla marshmallows which at the very end, I added shaved chocolate and only mixed a turn aor two on the kitchenaid. My son calls them Road Rocking.

Moon, I made one batch of the brittle and only added 1 tableshoon of the baking soda. they came out much better.

Landa, I made the lemon marshmallows using lemon oil (2 tsp) and yellow food coloring. the flavor was great. My favorite of them all.

Anonymous said...

How'd you keep your marshmallow from sticking to the mixing bowl?

Sylvie said...

Landa, they will stick and it can be a sticky mess. Immediately after I reached the correct consistency when mixing, I used a plastic pastry scaper to transfer to a pan. I used two methods for preparing the pan. First I applied powdered sugar to the bottom and sides. That did work, but best was to spray the pan with a light coating of a Pam type spray. Once they proof after about 12 hours , you can easily remove from pan and cut as desired. The cut edges will be sticky, but if you immediately coat with a thin layer of powdered sugar, you are good to go.