Friday, May 6, 2011

Homemade Rocky Road Marshmallow Pops

This all started with a simple campfire and my sons' love of the ooey, gooey sugar bomb otherwise known as the marshmallow. On a typical campfire night, we are a Jet-Puffed marshmallow family without complaint. However, on this particular night I had a crazy idea... "Hey guys, maybe we can try to make our own marshmallows someday?" Well, you would have thought I told them that we had a personal invitation to visit Santa at the North Pole. They wanted homemade marshmallows, and they wanted them right then and there.

Enter Mother's Day and Rocky Road candy. I know, it's not your traditional Mother's Day treat, but there is a simple explanation. My mom has made this delicious candy for us ever since I can remember. When I see a bag of marshmallows I think 'Rocky Road' before Rice Krispie Treats or S'mores even enter my mind. My mom stands by the Eagle Brand recipe for her Rocky Roads (which is very good), however, I wanted to jazz them up a bit for Mother's Day... make them pink, add a fancy stick....

To start, I needed to make homemade marshmallows. I have only ever tired one recipe for homemade marshmallows (click here for recipe by Alton Brown), and I see no reason to look further. His recipe results in deliciously soft pillows of delight! I do feel as though I should forewarn you, once you make these it is really hard to go back to the store bought hockey puffs (especially since these can be made and stored in an airtight container for quite some time).

I follow Alton Brown's recipe almost exactly except I always line the pan with parchment before coating with cooking spray to allow for easier removal of the marshmallow. For these marshmallows I also added three (3) drops of AmeriColor Tulip Gel Paste and two (2) drops of AmeriColor Soft Pink Gel Paste with the vanilla in the last minute of whipping to make them pink for Mother's Day (optional).

After the marshmallow has set for about six (6) hours, lift it out of the pan using the parchment handles. Take a pastry brush and brush the excess powder sugar/corn starch mixture off the top. Then, using a pizza wheel dusted in the powder sugar/corn starch mixture, divide the marshmallow into equal sections based on the pan sized used. Since I used a 9"x13" pan I divided it into three equal lengths measuring 3"x13". Dust the raw edges of the marshmallow with the powder sugar/corn starch mixture, and set two of the three aside (see below).

Next, place the ruler along side the long edge of a marshmallow strip, and cut the outside 1/2" off each end using a long knife dusted in the powder sugar/corn starch mixture. Readjust your ruler so it lines up at one of your clean edges, and cut the marshmallow every two inches. This will allow for you to have six 2"x3" rectangles for your pops. Again, dust all raw edges of the newly cut marshmallows with the powder sugar/corn starch mixture, and repeat the same process for the remaining two marshmallow strips. You should end up with 18 marshmallows total.

My marshmallow mongering kids would have me stop here, and that would be perfectly acceptable. You could easily package these pretty gals, and they would make lovely gifts. Alas, I am going to carry on for Mom and make these into Rocky Roads.

OK, so here is where there is potential for things to get a bit messy! There is probably some easy method for dipping marshmallows documented out there somewhere, but I was not privy to this information. So, I rolled-up my sleeves and went at it alone. Hopefully, you can avoid the mistakes I made, and move directly to the adorable, delicious pop part. Here is what I learned.

...It is all in the dipping. You are going to want to use a vessel that has a narrow base and taller sides to hold the melted chocolate, such as a coffee cup. This will allow you to have a uniform line of chocolate around the marshmallow. I used my husband's ceramic Butter Bell (which, by the way are fantastic). It was the perfect shape and held the heat of the chocolate well.

The key is to dip the marshmallow into the chocolate (do not hold the stick for this), remove it, and then using a small spatula or knife gently scrape off the excess chocolate first from the sides and then from the bottom of the marshmallow. Be careful not to take it all off (that would be a shame), just the heavy stuff. Set the pop on its side on the plate of peanuts (or any nut or decoration for that matter), and let it rest for a good minute or two before you rotate it to cover the remaining sides with the peanuts. This allows time for the chocolate to set and helps keep the peanuts in place. Also, try to keep the nuts off the bottom... unless you want your pops falling over and disorderly.

Once your pop is dipped and rolled, stand it upright on a sheet of parchment, and allow it to rest until it the chocolate is completely set. Then, place them in cellophane bags, tie on a ribbon and a tag (yeah, I forgot that part), and pass them out to all the deserving moms you know and love.

Homemade Marshmallows
Recipe by Alton Brown

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Gel Paste Food Coloring (optional)

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during and gel paste color (if using) in the last minute of whipping.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

Lift the marshmallow out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut the marshmallow into desired size using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Rocky Road Candy Coating  

12 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
16 ounces dry roasted peanuts (or other nut), coarsely chopped
Parchment Paper
Offset spatula or knife

Place coarsely chopped peanuts (or other nut or decoration) on a plate. Have ready a sheet of parchment paper for cooling the pops.

Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. Remove and stir the chocolate. Place chocolate back in microwave and heat for 15 seconds. Remove and stir. Continue heating and stirring in 15 second increments until the chocolate is melted. Scrape chocolate into coffee cup or other vessel for dipping.

Good Luck!
Jaime @ The Great Cake Company

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