One of our favorite people in the world is Michelle at Michelle Doll Cakes. She's fun and goofy, and likes it when we force her young son to dress in Star Wars clothing, so she could be all right. You may know her from her multiple Cake Challenge appearances on Food Network, including one she probably won't want me to remind you of when her Sex & The City cake fell over. If you attended our 100th episode party in New York last year, she was the one in the back competing with Rich in the informal beer drinking contest.
Today for Marshmallow Friday she actually made us some peeps from scratch! An interview and instructions after the jump.
I know you used to work for the Children's Television Workshop, what made you decide you liked pastries instead of puppets?
Michelle: I spent 10 years in Graphic Design as a production manager doing some design work. It was too corporate and I hated all the BS that's so prevalent in the industry. I became obsessed with the Food Network (the old actual cooking shows Food Network) and decided that's what I wanted to be when I grew up. So at 30 I quit my job and went back to school. I chose pastries because the hours are more conducive to successful marriages. And I eat a lot of sugar. I also studied theater at the Stella Adler Conservatory and took improv at the UCB which just means I get a lot of food thrown at me in the kitchen.
You sometimes host workshops, when's your next one?
Starting in February, I'm hosting three 2-day workshops at CKCA in Park Slope for beginners and pros alike. We'll be learning how to make some spring sugar flowers - tulips, sweet peas and hydrangeas. Should be a lot of fun. It's $300 for the 2 days and that includes all the supplies they'll need (and get to take home). Class size is limited to 4 so everyone will gets lot of attention.
Okay. Now give me some sugar.
With the holidays fading into a fuzzy haze, you may be wondering what to do with all that left over sanding sugar you bought to make intricate sugar cookies that never got made. Well, wonder no more! It's still hot cocoa weather and with VD fast approaching (Valentine's Day for most of us, sexually transmitted diseases for the rest of you) I have a great "make your own marshmallow sugar treats at home" project. Get ready to get STICKY! Seriously, I'm pretty sure this is what Spider-Man shoots out.
Okay, to the Marsh Pit!
- 1 cup (240 ml) cold water, divided (you'll use half to bloom the gelatin and half for the sugar)
- 3 - 1/4 ounce envelopes (21 grams) unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar
- 1 cup (240 ml) light corn syrup
- Fat pinch of salt
- A vanilla bean or a flavored extract (cinnamon and rum are nice examples) 2 tsp if you're using an extract
- 2-3 cups sanding sugar (sanding sugar crystals are slightly larger than table sugar and come in an array of colors)
- 2-3 Tbl cornsarch
What to do:
1. Lightly spray with non stick vegetable spray, the bottom of a 2 cookie sheets or a silpat. Sprinkle/spread about half of your sanding sugar into the bottom of the pan (this will help release the set marshmallow from the pans).
2. Take 1/2 cup (120 ml) cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer that is fitted with a whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
3. While the gelatin is blooming, in a heavy two quart saucepan, add the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup (120 ml) cold water. Stir just once to make sure there are no pockets of dry sugar on the bottom and to incorporate all the sugars. Once it comes to a boil, cover the saucepan with a lid and let boil for about two minutes to allow any sugar crystals to dissolve from the sides of the saucepan. Remove the lid and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Increase heat to high and boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F (115 degrees C), about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Be careful.
4. With mixer running at low speed, pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Gradually increase the speed to high and beat until mixture has tripled in volume and is very thick and stiff, about 13 minutes (looks like thick marshmallow cream). Add your extract, vanilla beans etc, and beat to combine, about 30 seconds longer. It should be really thick and hold a stiff peak.
5. Fill a pastry bag with the cream and pipe onto the sanding sugar. When you're done piping cover the tops with more sanding sugar. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until set, about 12 hours. Work fast, this stuff sets up quick!
6. Remove the marshmallows from the sheets and dredge in more sanding sugar, it's a good idea to sift a little corn starch on them as well. They don't get too dull and it keeps them from marrying one another. Shake off excess sugar and store the marshmallows in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to two weeks. Despite the crunchy sugar these are still great in hot chocolate!
Makes about 60 piped marshmallows
*Note - yes, gelatin smells like a barnyard when it gets hot, it will go away I promise, or you can use Kosher gelatin