Some foods simply have seasonal appeal. Take the pumpkin spiced latte for instance. Come September #psl is as ubiquitous as yellow school buses and leather boots. If you deconstruct these cravings you may find a range of reasons that are as simple as it’s in season and as complex as every year on Christmas Eve we would go to my grandma’s…. (insert long story).
Whether the reason is ancestral, physiological or pure sentiment you can try denying this little craving monster. But who’s to say that won’t backfire, giving him the ammunition to turn up louder and more aggressive the next time? Why not reinvent your kitchen’s greatest hits album instead? Sure it takes a little time and ingenuity, but luckily the blogosphere has streamlined much of the trial and error process.
As it relates to seasonal changes and cravings I do want to talk about Ayurvedic practices at some point. It’s truly fascinating, but arguably in a different echelon from what I want to discuss today. Today I want to keep it light… and fluffy… and SPONGEY!
Any guesses on what seasonal treat I’m talking about? The popularity of this food(-like substance) can probably be blamed on the Girl Scouts (as if the cookies weren’t enough…). It’s a versatile treat, and was originally derived from a root with properties known to combat sore throats.
Marshmallows are one of those foods that I’ve always felt ambivalent about. On one hand I love a toasty campfire s’more. On the other hand as a standalone treat I find the modern marshmallow gagworthy (completely unrelated to participation in a Chubby Bunny challenge). But then again, what’s hot cocoa without marshmallows? I was torn. Let’s be honest, industrialized grocery store marshmallows are kinda gross. And who can justify buying the $7 organic bag? Yet I always seem to find myself giving in…
My family has had slew of European house guests the last couple years and it’s somehow become tradition to introduce them to ooey gooey s’mores – high fructose corn syrup and all. We even had s’mores at my sister’s wedding reception in Slovenia! Occasionally I would halfheartedly buy the organic bag, feeling like the end product would be slightly less “authentic.” Not sure it gets much more dualistic than that. After all, I’d already substituted out for gluten free grahams and no soy chocolate, so why not swap out the marshmallow too? Eventually I drew a hard line and said no HFCS in the house. Period. End of story.
Then December rolled around.
Last year I traded in the traditional advent calendars for a homemade activity calendar. One night we read the Christmas Story, another day we make a gingerbread house, the next evening we drive around and look at lights… Well, when I unwrapped this DIY masterpiece last week I got pretty pumped. With one caveat.
Aaaack! There was that darn marshmallow sauntering in once again!
But this time I got crafty. After all, I was just coming off the Thanksgiving high of having a breakfast-approved alternative to traditional pumpkin pie, so why not give the marshmallow a shot. I did. And I’ve been bragging about it every day since!
Please note I am NOT a food blogger (I’m a health coach), but this recipe was too good to keep to myself. And aside from running around looking for marshmallow root and a tea infuser, I swear the hardest part will be waiting the 4 hours for the marshmallows to set! Of course you can always reserve a little marshmallow fluff in the meantime. There’s still honey in them, so I don’t know that I’d call them 100% guilt-free, but they are paleo and GAPS-approved (read: gut-friendly). Of course if you compensate by sprinkling a couple probiotic capsules into the batch that might be one step closer to putting marshmallows back in the “medicinal” category.
I scoured the Web for a few suitable suggestions and ultimately combined a few recipes into one super-duper recipe. Thanks to Urban Poser, Super Glue Mom and Wellness Mama for the guidelines!
deLIGHTful homemade marshmallows with marshmallow root
- 1 T. marshmallow root
- 1/2 c. warm filtered tap water
- 2 T. Great Lakes beef gelatin
- 1/2 c. local honey
- 1/2 t. vanilla extract
- Arrowroot or Tapioca flour
- coconut oil
- large stand up mixer (recommended) or hand mixer, with metal bowl
- small saucepan
- cooking or candy thermometer
- tea infuser
- square or rectangular pan (8×8 for chunky or 9×13 for bite size)
- parchment paper
- kitchen shears or pizza cutter
- Diffuse the marshmallow root in warm tap water.
- Meanwhile, coat your pan with coconut oil and then line with parchment, keeping some extra length for lifting out the marshmallows later. The oil keeps the paper from slipping while you spread the tacky mixture. Dust the paper with (gluten-free) flour to reduce the overall sticky factor.
- After 5 minutes (or longer) of steeping pour 1/4 cup of the “marshmallow tea” into the metal bowl. Add gelatin and whisk until well-combined (i.e. not lumpy) and let sit.
- Pour remaining 1/4 cup of marshmallow tea into saucepan and add honey and vanilla. Slowly bring to a boil.
- Check your stovetop mixture’s temperature with a thermometer and allow it to get to 240 degrees (or slightly beyond 220 if you’re like me and had to use a meat thermometer). This should take approximately 8 minutes.
- Turn your gelatin mixer back on at low speed and slowly add the hot honey mixture to the gelatin mixture. It will be golden in color, but have faith. It will get white and fluffy.
- After everything is combined crank up your mixer to high speed and let it go for 10-12 minutes. You want the marshmallow to be stiff enough to withstand the upside-down test. If you are using a hand mixture, feel free to do some calf raises and pelvic tilts while you wait for the marshmallows to firm up!
- Pour the marshmallow into the pan, and pat down with a spatula or hands coated in coconut oil.
- Wait FOUR very long hours. Longer if you can stand it, until you press down and the marshmallow bounces back.
- Lift onto a cutting board and cut with a pizza cutter. You may find that you need to oil the pizza cutter. A sharp knife or kitchen scissors will do the job too.
- Store in an airtight container.
So how do you envision reinventing your old favorites? Leave a comment below and let’s inspire one another!
Now to overhaul Aunt Rene’s signature jello salad (with marshmallows, of course)…