Le Melon: Taking the browns to the Super Bowl
Easter is over. The chocolate bunnies have been eaten. The Cadbury eggs are surely gone; the only evidence that they ever existed is the wrappers all over your bedroom floor. There's a void in your heart and a grumble in your tummy. Your sweet tooth cries out for more.
I feel this loss most poignantly for my little friends — the Marshmallow Peeps. Digging my teeth into the sweet fluff, I would think 'God, there is truly no substitute for this bliss.' And I was right. There is no substitute. There is, however, a better way, and a better shape.
The more time I spend in the kitchen, the more I'm convinced that homemade is better. There is the obvious comfort you get from knowing every single ingredient in your food. But more importantly, fresh marshmallow isn't crunchy or stale. It's pure fluff. And if you've already done all of the work to make homemade marshmallow, why make a pastel bird? It's been done. It's not very original. You can make whatever you feel like!
Me? I felt like shit.
For the sugar coating
1 cup of sugar
Red, green, and blue food coloring
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
For the marshmallows
1/3 cup of water
1 packet of gelatin
1/4 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
There are a few of things you'll need to make these, in decreasing order of importance: an electric mixer, a piping bag and round tip, and a candy thermometer. You can definitely survive without the thermometer (I did!), and you can always use a baggy to pipe in a pinch, but I don't know of anyone with the upper body strength to whip on high speed for 10 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, then send this to your mom and say please.
The marshmallow comes together really fast, so before we get ahead of ourselves, we have to make the brown-colored sugar that transforms the pretty white cloud swirls into delightful dung piles.
Pour one cup of sugar and one tablespoon of cocoa powder into a zip-lock bag with food coloring. If you have brown, use that. But from a standard four pack of food coloring, an equal mixture of red, green, and blue should result in a perfect shade of poop. Squeeze out all the air, seal the bag tightly, and give it a shake. It'll be wet, so lay it out evenly on a baking sheet lined with foil to dry while you do the hard work.
Now in your mixing bowl, first pour in the water, and then sprinkle the gelatin over top. Let that sit for 10 minutes, which should be all the time you need to make the sugar syrup.
Mix up one cup of sugar and a quarter cup of water together in a small pot over medium-low heat. This step is much easier if you have a candy thermometer. Just turn the heat off when it hits 235 degrees Fahrenheit. But if not, do it the old-fashioned way. 235 is also called the soft-ball stage. When all the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is bubbling but still clear, drop a small bit into a bowl of cold water. When it's done, it should form a ball in the water but flatten in your hand. It should take about 10 minutes, so conveniently, as long as the gelatin and water need to gel.
Now break up the gel with a spoon and pour in vanilla with the syrup. Turn the mixer speed up to seven at first until it starts to thicken and the splash factor goes down, but then turn it up the whole way. After 10 minutes, what began as a lumpy goop will transform into marshmallow — a pure, airy treasure.
Spoon the marshmallow into a piping bag with a round tip and start swirling little poops piles on top of the layer of poop-brown sugar. (If you piped directly onto a tray they would never come unstuck.) To pipe like an expert, remember three keys. 1. Squeeze at the very top with your dominant hand and guide with the other, 2. Keep the pressure consistent, 3. Keep the tip directly above where you want it to go.
Also if the piles flatten then the marshmallow might still be too hot. So wait a minute or two and try again.
Before the poops dry out, coat them with the sugar to complete the cloud to poop transformation. Rolling is the most effective way to coat them completely, but sprinkle some over top first so your fingers don't stick.
I brought these to Easter brunch, and a brilliant nine-year-old put it best: "They're like poop, but way better!"