Amiright? That mess is not a marshmallow. Nor does it taste like a marshmallow. It could not pass as marshmallow fluff. It is not a member of the marshmallow family.
It was, however, supposed to be a marshmallow. My first two batches were so amazingly successful I got all cocky and thought I was ready to wing it. I was wrong.
I was using my copy of Marshmallow Madness. It has only one vegan marshmallow recipe, which is pretty much the same as the open source vegan marshmallow recipe. I figured once I mastered the basic recipe, I could veganize some of the others.
The first recipe I tried after the basic one was Sea Salt Caramel Swirl Marshmallows. This calls for making up a batch of plain marshmallows, then swirling caramel through the fluff before spreading it in the pan. I am currently addicted to caramel and really wanted to try this recipe, but I was a little worried about that swirling part . . . vegan marshmallow fluff is not easy to work with.
Wrestling the finished fluff out of the mixing bowl and into the pan in the first place is like trying to give a cat a bath. It doesn’t want to go, and it fights back. It’s impossibly sticky in the bowl, and by the time you get it in the general vicinity of the pan it has already started to set. You dump it in and try to push it out to the edges of the pan, but it shrinks back in horror. If it could claw its way back up your hand it would.
The recipe says add some fluff to the caramel, mix it well, put it back in with the rest of the fluff and, “using a large spatula and a figure-eight motion, fold and swirl the two together.” I got a couple of swirls in before the motion was arrested by the firmness of the nascent marshmallows. As I feared.
When I cut the marshmallows, some had caramel in them and some did not. The ones that did get a hit of the caramel? Indescribably delicious! You’d have to try them to believe it. The rest were nothing to be ashamed of, but I really wanted the caramel flavor throughout. This was where I got my first bright idea: Add the caramel with the syrup! Caramelize all the marshmallows!
My second bright idea: Why not substitute brown sugar for the granulated sugar in the syrup? And while I’m at it, why not use brown rice syrup and a little golden syrup instead of the corn syrup? Altogether, this should result in a somewhat caramelly flavor.
However. For reasons that surpasseth my understanding, it resulted in the aforementioned mess. It never set up, and it even had clumps of Genutine (vegan gelatin) suspended in it. Disgusting and inedible. Why? I don’t know. I actually have no idea. I am humbled.
Oh, and the first bright idea? Tried again, keeping everything the same as the original recipe except for mixing the caramel in with the syrup just before adding it to the fluff. Problem: The vegan recipe requires “quickly” scraping the syrup into the fluff while the mixer is running. If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, you know how hard it is to add anything to the bowl while the mixer is running.
The “syrup,” once cooked, resembles a hot pan of mucus more than any syrup you’ve ever known. In this case the mucus – er, syrup – hit the whisk and immediately climbed straight up, embedding itself across and within the whisk and choking the top with a rope of hardened syrup. I stopped the mixer and tried to peel it off and put it back in with the fluff, knowing it was futile.
If I hadn’t been up to my elbows in doomed fluff after pointlessly trying to pick out all the hardened bits, and splattered from head to toe with other bits that came flying out of the mixer, I would have snapped some pics of the whole ridiculous mess. Instead, I just have this one:
It doesn’t look too bad here, but keep in mind the remnants are cemented in place. Fortunately, hot water and a bit of elbow grease finally got it all off.
So will I keep trying to make this work? Of course I will! Do I have a great many other things I should be doing instead? Of course I do! Has that ever matter before? Nope, and it won’t matter now! I will be back with the story of my success. Soon.