spring break special ed. or there really is such thing as too many marshmallows

Spring break means sunshine, beaches, and tropical beverages. Especially after Coldest Winter Ever, trips to warmer climes seem mandatory. But our family had other plans. We would visit my husband’s parents in a small town 200+ miles north of where we live.

While this vacation locale won’t bring us any beach days, it does offer opportunity for rest and relaxation. With grandparents on-site to mind the kids, I can sleep in, work out, and tackle projects that haven’t been moving forward back home. One project in particular–remember Marshmallow Madness?–kept me busy today.

Since that last January marshmallow post, I’ve been drawing up outlines, testing recipes, dreaming up marshmallow flavors and uses (popcorn balls, anyone?), and researching what’s already out there in hopes of advancing my own spin on DIY ‘mallows.

To that end, I bought bottles of sweet red wine and sherry, intending to try these wines in marshmallows. Weeks went by, the bottles collecting dust on the shelf (save the sherry, which I enjoy sipping come evening) and I wondered when my schedule would allow me a few hours in the kitchen to try these new marshmallow flavors.

Knowing I’d have plenty of time at my in-laws, I packed it all up and set out to turn my mother-in-law’s kitchen into a marshmallow test kitchen.

And how. After making three different kinds of marshmallows–sherry, sweet red wine, and root beer–I can say without reservation that there IS such a thing as marshmallow overload. Tasting along the way, many spoonfuls of sugary fluff were consumed. Add to that the many marshmallows “tested” after project completion, and I write this in the throes of a sugar coma. That said, here’s a review.

The sherry and red wine flavors were riffs on Alton Brown’s recipe, subbing alcohol for part of the water (1/2 cup for the sherry and 2/3 cup for the red wine). Red wine won for appearance as it started out deep purple, then faded to light pinkish lavender after whipping. Sherry won flavor, if only because I prefer sherry over red wine.

sherry marshmallows-to-be

sherry marshmallows-to-be

boiling the wine syrup

boiling the wine syrup

whipping the wine fluff

whipping the wine fluff

Wanting to make a ‘mallow for the kids, I turned to Marshmallow Madness (Shauna Sever beat me to this book title!) for its Root Beer Float marshmallow. Sever’s recipes had different proportions of corn syrup, sugar, and liquid compared to other recipes I’ve tried, though she knows what she’s doing as her marshmallows were fluffiest and the “batter” easiest to work with. I’ll be turning to Sever’s book again.

gelatin "blooming" in root beer

gelatin “blooming” in root beer

I wasn’t overly crazy about any of these flavors, though that’s more about my being sick of marshmallows than it is marshmallow quality. My best bet is to step back from marshmallow making, though I’ll need to hit it again soon as I’ve signed on to teach a marshmallow class at a local cooking school. The madness must continue. I’ll also be reporting back here, eventually offering up the root beer float marshmallow recipe as well*. Please stay tuned!

l to r: red wine, sherry, root beer float

l to r: red wine, sherry, root beer float

*Can’t wait for the recipe? Let me know in comments or on deLizious facebook and I’ll send it your way.

suspension of disbelief or making cookies from chickpeas

Last post mentioned that my food science schooling involved lots of science and no cooking. Yet it wasn’t all hard work. Classes like Music 101 and General Theater helped me satisfy department requirements and also gave me insight into subjects completely outside of my major.

It was in the theater class that I learned about “suspension of disbelief.” In a good stage production, the audience suspends disbelief; limitations of live theater don’t prevent folks from believing what they see on stage. And it’s this phrase I thought of when deciding to pursue today’s recipe.

While my jury is still out on the merits of facebook, I’ve come to enjoy posting to my deLizious business page. Family, friends, clients, and even complete strangers have been pestered encouraged to sign on with a Like as well as to help make it more of a community by sharing their own fun food (and drink) finds. It’s gratifying when someone takes me up on this, so I was thrilled when my friend Kristine brought Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites to the deLizious party. This recipe, found all over the internet, promises “NO FLOUR, NO OIL, NO WHITE SUGAR.” And it contains chickpeas.

I shared the post and was surprised to see it prove popular, generating a healthy discussion on whether it might taste good (I had my doubts, having been burned before with those beet brownies) and whether it truly was sugar- and oil-free if it contained chocolate chips.

Noting that Dinner of Herbs had made these same cookies and given them thumbs-up via her facebook page, I decided to go for it. I’d suspend my disbelief that legumes don’t belong in baked goods.

Of course there were changes along the way. It made more sense to use the entire 15-ounce can of chickpeas instead of measuring out the 1 1/4 cups called for. A jar of nutella beckoned from the pantry when I reached for the peanut butter. (And when I emptied it before having the amount needed, cashew butter provided the balance.) Peanut butter chips and chopped chocolate stood in for the chocolate chips, and you know I used more than the 1/2 cup called for. Finally, instead of hauling out my food processor, I put everything in a bowl and whirred it (mostly) smooth with my stick blender.

canned chickpeas etc.

canned chickpeas etc.

And? I’ll agree with D of H and give them that thumbs-up. They’re a bit mealy, though not enough to bother. I can tell they contain chickpeas, but only because I know they’re there. Named well, they taste a lot like raw cookie dough even after baking. But to call them cookies seems a stretch. (That said, for gluten-free, they’re phenomenal.) No one will mistake them for Mrs. Fields‘ latest.

dough balls

dough balls

just baked

just baked

cooling

cooling

Do I not love them because I know what’s in them or are they just not that amazing? Can’t say. They’re tasty enough, but still strike me as a bit odd. Bottom line: I have trouble suspending my disbelief. Chickpeas shine in salads, hummus, pasta dishes, soups. But to puree them into a cookie seems sacrilege and I’m unable to get past that enough to rave about these treats.

If you’re in the mood, I challenge you to make these chickpea cookies and report back. Do you like them or no? How adept are you at suspending your disbelief when it comes to baked goods?

Mickey is back!

Mickey is back!

stack of gooey

stack of gooey

raw cookie dough?

raw cookie dough?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed well and patted dry
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or any combination of nut butters )
1/4 cup agave nectar (original recipe called for honey)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease baking pan or coat with cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine all the ingredients except chocolate chips; blend with immersion blender until smooth. (Or process in food processor.) Add chocolate chips; stir to mix.

Scoop mixture into small mounds on baking pan. Bake 10 minutes or until just set. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 30 dough bites.