Memorial Day marks the official kick-off to Summer picnic season. Here in Texas, we picnic ’til the cows come home so I’m always on the look-out for recipes that taste great and are easy to make. As a girl who never met a dessert she didn’t like, I couldn’t resist bringing home Denise Gee’s cookbook, “Sweet on Texas: Lovable Confections from the Lone Star State.” I’ve tried several recipes (all are good) but her Texas Twister chocolate-orange marshmallows are so good, I just had to share. These marshmallows are not only quick-fix fabulous, they’re decadently delicious. So this picnic season, let someone else bring the pie. Give your guests a treat that’s a tasty bit of Texas heaven.
Texas Twister (Chocolate-Orange) Marshmallows
Makes about thirty 1 1⁄2-inch marshmallows
Rachael Companik, who lives just north of Houston with her husband and three young daughters, is a marshmallow devotee, to say the least. She makes dozens of creative varieties (think chocolate-cherry, caramel–sea salt) to share with friends and family. “I’ve loved marshmallows of all kinds since I was a little girl. Even Peeps and the freeze-dried things from hot chocolate packets,” Rachael says. But a few years ago she discovered the holy grail of marshmallows: homemade ones. As she puts it, “There’s simply nothing else that compares to their tender perfection.” Amen, sister. This recipe is insanely easy to make, and it’s my new go-to recipe when I’m asked to bring a dessert I know will be easy to eat and everyone will think is fun.
2 cups granulated sugar
2⁄3 cup light corn syrup
Three 1⁄4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons orange extract
2 to 3 drops natural orange food coloring (optional)
1⁄2 cup powdered sugar
1⁄2 cup cornstarch
Prepare an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish by lining it with a sheet of plastic wrap, allowing the edges to hang over; coat with cooking spray with flour. Set aside another piece of plastic wrap, also coated with cooking spray.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and 1⁄4 cup water and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
Add 1⁄2 cup cool water to the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the gelatin and salt over it in order to soften the gelatin; stir to combine. Let it sit for at least 3 minutes.
Allow the corn syrup mixture to boil for about 1 minute, then pour it into the bowl of gelatin. Immediately beat the mixture with the whisk attachment on high for 12 minutes, until it has become thickened, white, and tripled in volume.
In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan or the top of a double boiler (or in the microwave for 90 seconds), melt the chocolate chips. Set aside and keep warm.
Add the orange extract during the final minute of beating the marshmallow mixture. Turn off the mixer and add the food coloring (if using) and the melted chocolate. Mix slowly to create a marbled effect throughout the batter. (You may want to do this by hand to ensure you get the marbling effect you desire.)
Use a spatula to scrape the contents of the bowl into the prepared baking dish. Place the second piece of greased plastic wrap on top to cover it completely and pat it down to smooth the top and avoid creating a film.
Let the marshmallow mixture sit at room temperature for several hours or overnight to set. Remove it from the pan to a greased cutting board (it should come out of the plastic wrap with ease).
In a shallow pan or on a plate, combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch.
Use a sharp, straight-edge knife to cut the marshmallow slab into desired shapes and sizes and lightly roll each in a mixture in the sugar and cornstarch to prevent sticking. (The marshmallows will look powdery for an hour or so before absorbing the sugar mixture.) If the marshmallow sticks to the knife, coat the knife in the sugar-cornstarch mixture or lightly oil it.
Store for up to 2 weeks at room temperature in an airtight container.
Sweet Talk: As fresh marshmallows age, the texture will begin to change, with the edges beginning to crystallize, but even then they are great in a cup of coffee or a recipe. They also can be refrigerated or frozen for a couple of months to extend their life, provided they are well protected from air. If stored this way, I recommend wrapping them twice in plastic wrap and then double-bagging them. If they get sticky, just roll them in a little powdered sugar and cornstarch.
Recipe courtesy of : “Sweet on Texas: Lovable Confections From the Lone Star State” by Denise Gee, Chronicle Books, www.ChronicleBooks.com