Sorry for the radio silence, but I have been out having fun! This weekend I felt like I finally hit my stride again, after a stressed-out month or so. I dyed the pattern warp for Phoenix Rising (currently drying), upgraded the drive system on my chocolate tempering machine, made four batches of marshmallows, tempered the first batch of chocolate in my newly upgraded tempering machine, and dipped ten or fifteen of each type of marshmallow in chocolate to see how they’d come out. I wrote four book blog posts, and ran up to Berkeley to help out a new AVL Workshop Dobby Loom owner with her loom.
All in all, a nice productive (and relaxing!) weekend.
The marshmallows, incidentally, came out wonderful. I made four flavors: cinnamon, orange blossom, raspberry, and rum caramel. Of those, my favorites are the cinnamon and the raspberry – they have powerful, “true” flavors, and because I used a strong, spicy cinnamon (from Penzey’s, of course!) the cinnamon is just to die for. The raspberry is also intensely flavorful. The orange blossom also tastes excellent, but perhaps a trifle too strong, and the rum caramel isn’t strong enough to be identifiable. (Next time I add more caramelized sugar.)
Here are pix of the marshmallows, before and after dipping:
In case you are wondering how to make your own marshmallows, I used this recipe. It basically consists of Italian meringue (beaten egg whites cooked and expanded with a hot sugar syrup) mixed with gelatin and flavorings. You can also do a gelatin-only marshmallow, but I haven’t tried that yet. I added two tablespoons of cinnamon to the cinnamon ones, and 200 grams of raspberry puree in a half-batch for the raspberry ones.
Marshmallows are also quite sticky, as anyone who has made marshmallow taffy can attest. (One makes marshmallow taffy – best done when you are six or seven, but delicious at any age – by pulling a marshmallow apart between the fingers repeatedly, until you’re left with a sticky, scrumptious taffylike candy sticking all over your fingers.) I made the mistake of using parchment paper, expecting it to be nonstick. Alas, the marshmallow stuck, and while I did manage to peel it off the paper eventually, the process was rather traumatic, both to me and the marshmallow. Next time I will follow directions and dust the paper with a mix of cornstarch and powdered sugar first.
Marshmallows are also difficult to cut with a knife, as they are both sproingy and sticky. I finally resorted to cutting the marshmallows with scissors, as the recipe suggested, and dusting the cut marshmallows generously with powdered sugar and cornstarch. I initially found them hard to dip, but tried “bottoming” the marshmallows with a thin layer of chocolate, and found that they still cut easily with scissors, and were much easier to dip.
Needless to say, I wound up with tons of marshmallows, which are going in to work today. They are delicious but are almost pure sugar, and I definitely don’t want to eat all of them! I’m sure my coworkers will be appreciative.
I did not get around to trialing ganache flavors, which doesn’t particularly worry me – I can do those during the week. And I feel like I got plenty done!
One other Major Event happened this weekend – I celebrated my sixth weaving birthday on Saturday! Yep, I’ve now been weaving for six years. Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, I don’t feel that this was as big an event as my previous weaving birthdays – perhaps because I didn’t expand my weaving horizons substantially this year. I did some weaving, and produced a spectacular garment (Autumn Splendor), but most of my study this year was on garment design and construction, not complex weaving techniques. I think that’s OK with me. It indicates that I’ve integrated weaving into my fiber arts practice, so I don’t have to focus as intensely on learning how to weave. Not that I intend to stop weaving! but I feel I have achieved a level of proficiency that enables me to do more or less anything I want, with sufficient sampling and study of course.
Off to write some more book blog posts! I want to get about a month ahead, so I can focus on chocolate through mid-November.