The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network. We were given the choice of making either or both of these two cookies; I would have liked to try both of them, but our waistlines could only handle one. I chose the mallow cookies, since I’ve never had the guts to make my own marshmallow before. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a huge fan of marshmallows, mostly because of their rubbery texture and one-note sugary taste, but I’d always heard that the homemade variety is a completely different species from the store-bought sort, so I was very curious to know if that were true.
These cookies came together over the course of several days for me, in part because of the heat wave we’ve been having here in Oregon, and in part because our former sticky bun is now able to toddle around after me and cling to my leg, which slows down my progress tremendously. (He also pilfers my fish turner, spider, and various other kitchen implements, but that’s another story.) I made the dough one evening, stuck it in the fridge, and didn’t get around to baking it off until the next day. I had to do a double-take when I realized the recipe called for storing it as a chilled disk, rolling it and stamping out shapes, because I had kind of assumed it would call for slicing it from log form like so many refrigerated cookie dough. It rolled out fine, but made so many cookies that I ended up freezing half the dough—in a log—to use another time.
I didn’t have a cookie cutter as small as the one called for in the recipe, so instead I used a 2″ round biscuit cutter. My cookies puffed up quite a bit when I baked them, so I may not have rolled the dough quite thin enough. I decided to slice most of them in half while they were hot, which worked beautifully and gave me a more wafer-like cookie.
When it came time to make the marshmallow, I realized that I was out of light corn syrup. I took a risk and substituted dark corn syrup in its place, and the color of the heated sugar syrup made me worry that my marshmallows would end up beige and molasses-flavored. As it turned out, however, they whipped up white as snow, and the flavor had just a whisper of brown-sugar complexity that married nicely with vanilla. It would have been helpful if the recipe had specified an amount of whipping time for the marshmallow. Mine took a good ten or fifteen minutes at high speed to whip up to a stiff consistency after I added the sugar syrup, about long enough for the mixture to cool, which I doubt was a coincidence.
My house was so warm that my marshmallow didn’t want to hold its shape for long, so as soon as I got all my cookies piped out, I ran the tray down into our cool basement and crossed my fingers that the mallow wouldn’t end up melting and running all over the place. Since I didn’t bake all the dough at one time, I had about half of the marshmallow leftover, and I poured that freeform on a silpat dusted with powdered sugar, to use for another purpose.
Several hours later, the mallow was more set than tacky, so I went ahead and did the chocolate coating before bedtime. I was tired and cranky from the heat, so I didn’t bother with a bain marie; I just used semi-sweet chocolate chips and melted them over low heat in a saucepan. It worked out fine; no burning, seizing, or otherwise. However, I did run out of glaze before all the cookies were coated, so I had to make more. They went back on a silpat in the basement overnight. (And I have to just say, these look so much like Tagalongs, I might have to make some from that log of extra dough in my freezer…once the weather cools back down, that is!)
The next day I went downstairs to check on the mallows, and the chocolate was still gooey. A good 24 hours after that, it was still not totally set up, even in my cool basement, so I think only the fridge will suffice this time of year—we’ve had over a week of temps in the upper 90’s, are supposed to top 100F for the next few days, and it has got to be at least 85 degrees in my house. The second I pick up one of these cookies to take a bite, it starts melting all over my hand, but the few I’ve managed to taste are absolutely delicious, worlds better than any marshmallow product I’ve ever purchased, so the rumors are true. Homemade marshmallows are worth the fuss. Nolan loves the cookies too, but I think they are about the messiest possible cookie to cut up and share with a baby—crumbs, melting chocolate and sugary goo. We had slightly better luck feeding him our alternative marshmallow application, below.
I cut up the excess marshmallow into sticky cubes and used it in a recipe Jeremy has been requesting to combat the heat—homemade rocky road ice cream. The ice cream base was from The Perfect Scoop, made with a combination of Dutch-process cocoa, Valrhona bittersweet chocolate and Guittard milk chocolate. I mixed it after processing with roasted chopped almonds and the homemade marshmallow, and it is easily the best rocky road we’ve ever had.
This marshmallow recipe stayed pretty sticky and hard to cut up; I’m not sure if that was caused by the heat or an error on my part, or if that’s just how this recipe intended them to be for the cookies. I’ll have to try a stand-alone marshmallow recipe this winter for hot chocolate and s’mores. I was a little afraid my cubes would dissolve when I stirred them into the ice cream, but as you can see, the marshmallow maintained its structural integrity and worked very nicely with the ice cream.
Thanks so much to Nicole and the Daring Bakers for pushing me to give homemade marshmallows a chance. This was another fun challenge! And be sure to look at all the gorgeous mallows and milanos at the Daring Bakers Blogroll!
I am a member of the Theta Class of the Daring Bakers, induced in July of 2007. For more information and a list of my previous challenges, click here.