Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Summer Storms and Blueberry Clouds

I'm a seasonal eater.  I like rich, warm, comforting food in the winter, and light, delicate flavors in the summer. This, in spite of the fact that our summers, with their frenetic winds and bursts of torrential precipitation, frequently are dark and glum as a mid-November grey-out. We just (thankfully) exited a one- week-and-counting run of continuous sheets of unrelenting rain.  (Not quite as bad as the ones that destroyed my entire back yard a few years ago, but still. . .) Smack dab in the middle of a stretch of storms that radio djs in my college town used to refer to as 'those thunder-boomers' to unfailing and vehement eye-rolling by myself and my friends.

But regardless of the likelihood of flood warnings, I eat strictly by the temperature on the thermostat.This drives my husband crazy, since I go through a six month stretch every year of not wanting anything to do with sushi (incidentally, one of his favorite foods,) because it doesn't hit that necessary temperature threshold during those frigid, icy months. (He insists that room temperature doesn't mean cold -- I counter that room temperature most definitely does not mean hot.) That's why today's post may seem like a bit of an aberration.  Marshmallows, for many, conjure up dreams of cozy nights by the fire, sipping steaming cups of cocoa, while pillowy mounds of snow climb the outer windowpane.  But while I would never turn down a cup of sweet chocolate piled high with marshmallows in the dreary depths of winter, marshmallows also speak of spring and summer -- sunshine and light.  And even though those days of sunshine and light are sometimes more like weeks of darkness and clouds, when infused with the fresh flavors of juicy, ripe fruit and heavily scented flowers, these little cushiony cumulus delights are a treat meant for sultry, sunny, (but sometimes stormy) summer days.

Blueberry Clouds, two ways

First, the Blueberry Balsamic goodies:

 Fluffy and gorgeous in the bowl. . .

Add some blueberry goodness to kick up the color and the flavor. . .

Pour (with some difficulty) into the pan -- make sure it's oiled!

Admire. . .

Smooth. . .

Dust. . .

Cut. . . and eat!
I struggled a little with the decision to share the following recipe, aka Hidden Treasure Marshmallows, because they really didn't turn out the way I had wanted.  The good part about these marshmallows is that they are made in mini-muffin pans, so they do look pretty much exactly like little cumulus clouds!  But that was where the success story ended. Essentially, these are jam-filled marshmallow, but my jam oozed out of the side of the marshmallows so they ended up being not-so-hidden treasures, and sticky to boot.  I think if I had made a slight well in the marshmallow after piping the tin half full and only filled that well with jam, these may have been more of a success.  And, the jam wouldn't have overwhelmed the delicious yet delicate flavors of the marshmallow itself, which it most certainly did.  So here's the picture of how not to do it. . .

Again, you can see the jam dripping off the side of the marshmallow, so the additional marshmallow on top didn't seal it in the middle properly.  You live, you learn. . .

And for the complete recipes, below. . .
(As much as I wish I could take full credit for these recipes, they were both modified from already-pretty-tasty-original recipes by (1) Bakers Royal and (2) Savvy Eats)

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Blueberry Balsamic Marshmallows

Just like biting into a ripe blueberry -- if blueberries were cloud-like, that is.
  • 1/2 cup, 1/2 cup, 2 Tbsp +1 tsp Water
  • 2 teabags Jasmine Tea
  • 3 packets Powdered Gelatin
  • 2 cups White Sugar
  • 1 1/8 oz, 1.5 oz Freeze Dried Blueberries, blended to a fine powder in a food processor
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • Zest from one Lemon
  • 2/3 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Cornstarch
1. Using a food safe brush, lightly oil all inner surfaces of an 8x8 casserole dish.2. Bring 1/2 cup of water to boil and then steep the teabags for 3 minutes.4. Let the tea cool slightly and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.5. Sprinkle the gelatin on top of the tea and let sit.6. Meanwhile, combine the other 1/2 cup of water, maple syrup, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.7. Continue to heat, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F.8. Slowly pour the hot mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer along with the balsamic vinegar, first mixing on low until combined, and then on high for 10 minutes until white and fluffy.9. Meanwhile, combine the 1 1/8 oz of blueberry powder with the 4 Tbsp and 1 tsp of water until a paste like consistency.10. Add the blueberry mixture to the marshmallow mixture and beat on high for another minute.11. Fold the lemon zest in with a spatula.12. Using a slightly oiled spatula, spoon into the prepared dish and smooth the top as much as possible.13. Let sit in a cool area overnight.14. The next day, combine the remainder of the blueberry powder with the powdered sugar and cornstarch and mix well.15. Cut the pan of marshmallow into 5 strips, and then cut each strip into 5 squares. (It is best to use an oiled serrated knife and a sawing motion.)16. Dip each side of the marshmallow into the blueberry sugar mixture until the surface is not sticky.
Active time: Inactive time: 12 hours Total time: Yield: 25 large marshmallows

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Hidden Treasure Marshmallows
If done properly, these little beauties hide a gem of jam right in the middle -- a tasty surprise!
  • 2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 cup divided in 1/2 cup portions Water
  • 3 packets Powdered Gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups White Sugar
  • 1 cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • from one lemon Zest
  • 1/4 tsp Fiori di Sicilia Flavoring
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • 1/3 cup Blueberry Preserves
  • to grease pan Oil
1. Using a pastry brush, coat the mini muffin cavities with oil.2. Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment.3. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining water in a saucepan and heat at medium, stirring until the sugar has fully dissolved.4. Stop stirring and heat without disturbing until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F.5. Pour the syrup into the gelatin mixture, slowly, with the mixer on low. The sugar mixture is very hot! So make sure you don't splash.6. Increase speed to high and mix for 10 minutes. In the last minute, add the extracts/flavoring.7. When done mixing, fold in the lemon zest.8. Scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.9. Pipe each mini-muffin cavity half way full and use the back of a spoon to create a divot in each marshmallow. 10. Only just fill the divot with jam, and then continue to pipe marshmallow into each cavity until full.11. Let sit for a few hours, then remove each marshmallow from the tin and roll in a mixture of the powdered sugar and cornstarch.
Active time: Inactive time: Total time: Yield: 25 mini muffin sized marshmallows

 In all their summery glory. . .

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