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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Potato Chips

Why bother indeed.  I was very excited to give homemade potato chips a try.  I sat on my train ride home, dreaming up delicious flavors of potato chips.  Spicy Buffalo and blue cheese.  Parmesan and garlic.  Thai sweet curry.  Alas, this was all not to be.

This is the first challenge of the year that has me a little stumped.  Perhaps it's that I just need a little more time to figure out how to make these bad boys?  Maybe I need to do a bit more research before peeling any more potatoes?  Or maybe, I realized that I prefer cheese puffs to potato chips.  Unless someone out there has a spare cheese puff making machine (as the cheese puffs are puffed with a special vacuum apparatus), I think I'll continue buying my cheese puffs from the store.

I made a batch of oven chips, destined to be Buffalo and blue cheese.  The chips that were too thin, burnt.  The chips that were a little thicker, never crisped up.  I think that I might need to experiment further.  I was so downtrodden by the baked chip fail that I refused to go on and make any attempt at frying some.  It would have been a sad day if I wasn't also preparing these...

Peanut butter and jelly marshmallows!  More candy for candy month!  Opposed to the epic fail of the potato chips, these little fluffy treats were an absolute knockout.  It's so funny too.  The process of making these two-layer marshmallows was not simple.  It required making two separate (and very different) marshmallow batters, cutting, dusting and attempting not to eat them all.  In total it took three hours to get these sweets from sugar to final product.

Not that this should scare you off!  Even if you don't want to make a double-layered marshmallow, each flavor was amazing on its own.  The concord grape layer was sweet and full of flavor (courtesy of the 100% grape concentrate) and they were a ridiculous purple color.  The peanut butter layer tasted just like a fluffernutter sandwich, sans the bread.  Put them together and we have a completely lunch inappropriate PB&J sandwich (although it tastes just like the lunch original).

One Year Ago: Cookie Dough Egg Rolls

PB&J Marshmallows
Adapted from several sources
notably Marshmallow Madness and Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats

This double-decker marshmallow recipe makes a massive amount of sweets.  Here are a few tips that I learned, to be sure you get the most delicious mallows.

1. Use only 100% concord grape juice.  Do not use a grape juice cocktail, you won't get the same pungent flavor.

2. The peanut butter in these marshmallows makes the two layers not stick together very well.  It also makes the mallows suck up the coating that you put on them.  I'd reccommend having these sit around for no longer than a week, they will go bad.

3. Bring these treats to work and feed them to non-Americans.  It's lots of fun.

Concord Grape layer

4 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/2 cup 100% concord grape juice concentrate, thawed, but cold
1/4 cup cold water

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Coat a 9x13-inch with cooking spray and wipe it down with a paper towel.  You just need a thin layer of oil.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl, if you are using a hand mixer), combine gelatin, grape juice concentrate and cold water.  Whisk to combine.

In a 4-quart pot, combine sugar, corn syrup, water and salt.  Stir to wet all of the sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Insert candy thermometer and cook, without stirring, to 250 F.

Remove sugar syrup from the heat.  With your mixer running on medium-low (whisk attachment for stand mixer), gradually stream in the sugar syrup.  Once all of the sugar is added, crank up the speed to high (you might want to put a towel over your stand mixer to avoid any splashing) and whip for 15 minutes.

Pour marshmallow batter into the prepared pan and let it sit for at least an hour before starting the peanut butter layer (I let mine sit overnight).

Peanut butter layer

4 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp creamy peanut butter (cheap stuff, not all-natural)

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if you are using a hand mixer), combine gelatin and water.  Whisk to combine.

In a 4-quart pot, combine sugar, corn syrup, water and kosher salt.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and clip on candy thermometer.  Cook sugar syrup until it reaches 240 F (note the different temperature from the first recipe).  Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.

With the mixer running, gradually stream sugar syrup into the gelatin bloom.  Once all of the sugar syrup is added, turn the mixer up to high.  Whip marshmallow batter for 15 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla in the last few minutes (you don't want to add vanilla to the piping hot sugar syrup)

Place peanut butter in a small bowl and add 1 cup marshmallow batter and gently fold in.  Add peanut butter marshmallow back to the main bowl and mix for 1 minute.  Pour peanut butter marshmallow batter on top of the concord grape marshmallow.  Cover and let sit for at least 4 hours.

Marshmallow coating

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 corn starch

Sift powdered sugar and corn starch together and place in a large bowl.  Remove 9x13 slab of marshmallow from the pan and cut into 1-inch pieces with an oiled chefs knife (or an oiled pizza wheel).  Toss marshmallows in the coating.
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