Tuesday 30 October 2012

Snouts - Homemade Bacon Marshmallows Dipped in Milk Chocolate

Dear readers,

I'm not a huge marshmallow fan. When I was a child I used to toast marshmallows on the fire in the living room. My favourite marshmallows were those covered in granulated sugar because, when they were toasted, the sugar melted into a crispy shell which encased the soft molten marshmallow - they had such a wonderful light crunch with a gooey centre, unlike those covered in corn flour which just burned on the outside! I find most commercial marshmallows generally quite chewy and unpleasant. I heard, however, that homemade marshmallows are quite different from the commercial ones. Also, I thought that it would be fun to make marshmallows at home!

When I was in Year 7 (at school), many years ago, we had a media project where we had to design a product and create some adverts for it. I made some "scent bags" with a couple of my friends (I was very 'attached' to the sewing machine at that age) and some of my friends in my class made a food product - snouts! As far as I can remember, these snouts were coated in chocolate and had a pair of nostrils to represent a pig snout. I decided to use that memory of my friend's snouts to influence my homemade marshmallows to surprise him.

Bacon seems to be in everything in America. Burgers, pancakes, chocolate, brownies, cookies, lollipops... and even marshmallows! I always like to make things interesting and I thought that bacon marshmallows would be very apt for making snouts! Most of the people with whom I discussed my idea of bacon marshmallows were a little horrified. This didn't put me off of making them (they already exist anyway!) but it did scare me off of putting too much bacon in them. This resulted in a final product with only a few tiny pieces of bacon in each snout, which meant that most people wouldn't even know that the bacon was there, unless I told them. So I am a little disappointed with the outcome in that respect. Next time I will definitely use more bacon, and try not to be afraid of adding too much!

Homemade marshmallows really are very different from the commercial ones - they are so light and airy, like little clouds (the Spanish actually call marshmallows "nubes", which literally means 'clouds') that go "poof!" in your mouth and disappear before your second chew! They are also very easy to make (unlike macarons!). I can't wait to try out a different flavour soon!

This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz.
9g powdered gelatine (1 sachet)
60ml + 40ml water
100g sugar (caster or granulated)
50g liquid glucose
2 large egg whites at room temperature
A pinch of salt
A few drops of red food colouring
2 rashers of crispy bacon, finely chopped
100g milk chocolate
Marshmallow mix (70g icing sugar mixed with 70g corn flour, sieved)

This recipe makes ~24 snouts.
Put the gelatine and 60ml cold water in a small bowl to soften.

In a small saucepan with a sugar thermometer add the 40ml cold water, the sugar and liquid glucose and place over a medium heat.

In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they are soft and fluffy. Add the pinch of salt.

Once the sugar mix reaches a temperature of 220
°F, beat the eggs until they become stiff. When the sugar mix reaches 245°F, slowly pour it over the whipped egg whites and continue whisking.

Put the gelatine and water mix into the saucepan and allow it to melt with the remaining heat from the sugar mix. Whilst whipping, pour the liquefied gelatine into the egg whites and sugar. Add the food colouring and continue whisking until the mixture and the bowl has completely cooled. Gently fold in the crispy bacon pieces.

Generously dust a round cake tin with the marshmallow mix and lightly grease the edges of the tin with vegetable oil.

Spoon the cooled marshmallow into the cake tin and allow to set uncovered for a minimum of 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

Once the marshmallow has set, use a 1 inch diameter cookie cutter to cut out individual marshmallows. Roll in the marshmallow mix and dust away any excess.

Slowly melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water on a low heat. Dip the bottom of the marshmallows in the melted chocolate and place on greaseproof paper. Use the end of a fork to dot on the two nostrils of the snout on the top of the marshmallow. Allow the chocolate to cool and serve!

The complete cooling of the marshmallow during the final whip is crucial - if the marshmallow hasn't fully cooled before placing into the mould, it will weep after it has set.

Unfortunately, I was afraid of adding too much bacon in these marshmallows which, as I mentioned above, has resulted in a marshmallow with too little bacon flavour and texture.

My friend, for whom I made these marshmallows, was overjoyed with my re-creation of the snouts. He agreed that the marshmallows were very light and fluffy. He enjoyed the bacon but also agreed that the bacon flavour could be made stronger.