For the last several years, I’ve done a series of chocolate posts for the month of February. Expected? Absolutely but the month that contains Valentine’s Day and sometimes Fat Tuesday always seems to say “chocolate” to me. It’s funny because as I’ve stated a few times before, I’m not much of a chocolate eater. Shocker, I know as I lean more towards the vanilla, caramel and fruit end of the spectrum. All the same, as this February approached, my thoughts turned to … you guessed it … chocolate. In this case, it was marshmallows.
Years ago, while working for an artisan chocolate company, I was tasked with a project, part of which was creating a marshmallow that could be produced on a large-scale. I tested numerous recipes – egg whites based, gelatin based and one very strange vegan recipe. I found I preferred a gelatin based recipe with a liberal pour of vanilla bean paste and it was Thomas Keller who set me on the right path. The recipe was foolproof, had a fantastic bouncy texture and was relatively easy – no candy thermometer needed. It’s been my go to ever since.
But recently a lovely photo popped up in my social media feed, a gorgeous image of dark chocolate marshmallows from Saveur. I wondered if I could make my recipe chocolate. While it sounds easy, there are certain recipes where you want a dark chocolate flavor to come through and it just doesn’t. Souffles are a good example – possible, yes but a deep chocolate flavor isn’t as easy to achieve as you’d think. I saw right off that the marshmallows in the photo were tossed in cocoa powder and while it makes for a pretty picture, a cocoa dusting results is a terrible bite. Straight cocoa powder can be a dusty, muddy mouthful. Not something I personally care for.
All the same, I took that idea and adapted my tried and true recipe. I used the darkest cocoa I had, some beautiful black cocoa from King Arthur. A full ½ cup was whisked into the gelatin then whipped with the sugar syrup to a big sticky, dark brown mass. After a night to set in the pan, I cut the slab into fat cubes with scissors then tossed the sticky little things in a mix of powdered sugar, cornstarch and more black cocoa. They weren’t as pretty as the Saveur photo, being much more on the lighter side, but they were delicious. A nice chocolate flavor – these certainly aren’t truffles – but chocolate most definitely. I was pretty pleased.
Then I made a cup of hot chocolate, because with fresh marshmallows on hand you simply must. A few on top and I swooned. It was chocolate x100. If you have the inclination, these would be especially wonderful topping a big mug of Mexican Hot Chocolate. I also learned something interesting in the process: if you happen to forget your mug for a few hours, as I did, a miraculous thing happens. The marshmallows will melt, forming a cap on your mug, sealing in all that chocolatey goodness. A minute or so in the microwave and you’re back in the game.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: DOUBLE UP. Why wouldn’t you top a mug of chocolate with more chocolate? It seems so obvious to me. Why dilute the flavor of a good cup of hot chocolate with white, fluffy sugar when you can plop of few of these on top and double up on the chocolate? Winning on all fronts, I say. It also happens that these are slightly addictive too. I ate about a third of the batch, just popping them into my mouth one after the other, while working one afternoon. Yeah, so that’s how it goes. Consider yourself informed.
Eight years ago: Khachpuri (cheesy Georgian bread)
Seven years ago: Fancy Valentine’s Day Cookies, Marmalade Yougurt Cake
Six years ago: Chocolate Churros, Mexican Hot Chocolate, BBQ Chicken Bao
Five years ago: Passionfruit Pavlova, Double Chocolate Alfajores, Chocolate Dulce de Leche Swirl Ice Cream
Four years ago: Chocolate Pear Clafouti, Nutella Torte
Three years ago: Buckwheat Blini, Mexican Chocolate Cookies, Pimento Cheese Stuffed Pretzels
Two years ago: Flourless Chocolate Cookies
Last year: Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies, Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake
DARK CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS
Makes about 40 marshmallows
You absolutely need a stand mixer for this recipe, like a KitchenAid. I can’t even imagine doing this with a hand mixer. The thought of pouring hot sugar syrup with one hand while holding a moving hand mixer with the other is terrifying.
3 Tablespoons gelatin (3 packets/¾ oz)
½ cup cold water
½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- For the marshmallows: In a heatproof medium bowl, combine the gelatin the ½ cup cold water and stir to combine.
- Let sit for 10 minutes to bloom (it will become a solid piece)
- Meanwhile, line a 9”x9” pan completely with plastic wrap and spray the pan and a rubber spatula with cooking spray. Set aside until needed.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and in a second heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and ¼ cup water. Let the second pan set until after you deal with the gelatin mixture.
- Place the bowl of bloomed gelatin on top of the boiling water and melt.
- Once the gelatin is liquid, sift in the ½ cup cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.
- Transfer gelatin/cocoa mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and mix gently while making the sugar syrup.
- In a heavy large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and ¼ cup water.
- Now, back to that pot of sugar. Stir the mixture, turn the heat to high and bring to a rolling boil (bubbling across the entire surface). Boil for 1 minute (set the timer).
- Once the sugar syrup has boiled for 1 minute add to the gelatin/cocoa mixture – with the mixer running on low, pour the sugar syrup into the gelatin. Make sure to carefully pour the hot sugar syrup in the sweet spot between the side of the bowl and the moving beater to avoid spatters. Be careful.
- Increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 6-8 minutes until the mixture is stiff, begins to ride up the length of the beater and pulls off in flexible strings.
- Add the vanilla and beat on high for an additional 2 minutes until stiff and well combined.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth with greased spatula.
- Spray the top with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and pat to smooth the top.
- Let sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours to firm up. It is best if left overnight.
- For the dredging mixture: In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar and the cornstarch. Set aside.
- To cut: unmold and remove plastic wrap.
- Spray a pair of kitchen scissors with cooking spray and snip the marshmallow sheet into strips, then into squares. I like them best in 1 inch cubes but the size is completely up to you.
- As you cut, drop the squares into the dredging mixture. Toss thoroughly to coat.
- Pick up 3-4 at a time and vigorously rub them between your hands to dust off any extra coating sugar and place in a bowl or ziploc bag for longer storage.
- Keep the marshmallows tightly covered. Will keep 5 days tightly wrapped.