Cottage season is almost upon us, and I’ve finally had it with my inability to toast marshmallows over the fire anymore 🙁 . When Kevin and I first bought our tiny cabin in the woods in 2011, roasting things over a roaring flame was, to me, by far the best part. So much so that if there was rain in the forecast for the weekend and a fire wasn’t looking likely/possible, we’d alter our plans to go a different weekend instead. Not that there’s not something to be said for cozying up inside next to the woodstove of course – because that definitely has it’s own charm/appeal – but I just know I’d be staring forlornly out the window at a waterlogged firepit and who needs that kind of stress? 😉
At that time too, there was a store that, though not super convenient to my house, was at least in an area to which I occasionally ventured, and sold vegan marshmallows. Although a smidge on the pricier side, they were delicious, and roasted perfectly over the fire. Marshmallows and s’mores, still totally doable and vegan-licious! Huzzah!
Now, fast forward to near the end of summer 2012 when said store closed down and I now had no way to get vegan marshamallows even quasi-easily (unless I was willing to not only pay extra for vegan marshmallows, but also pay crazy – read at least 2x the price of the marshmallows themselves – in shipping fees. Spoiler alert – I was not willing to do this). I didn’t allow this to completely snuff out the flames of my budding fire roasting career however. My backup plan, which ended up being pretty gosh darn delicious in it’s own right, consisted of roasting an apple over the fire (does anyone else remember watching Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon”? ’cause that’s totally what made me think of doing this). You just roast it on a stick (metal roasting stick works better here than a twig just due to the weight of the apple) until the skin starts to blister a bit and fairly easily peels off (takes a while). Then you roll it in a cinnamon sugar mixture. Although this was actually really good (and probably healthier frankly), and I will definitely continue to keep this in my arsenal of fiery desserts 😉 , I was still hankering for at least the option of roasting marshmallows. I have to admit that I’d get a bit jealous watching Kevin merrily roasting marshmallows and sandwiching it’s ooey goodness between 2 Nutella coated graham crackers (the lazy/genius man’s s’more).
Even before the sad, sad day of said vegan marshmallow-supplying store closing, I’d looked into making vegan marshmallows myself, but I always just got lazy and figured, why bother if I can buy them just as easily?
Things finally came to a head for me this year though, and on a whim I started looking at recipes and found this amazing one here. There were some ingredients I didn’t have, but I had alternatives, so I just made alterations where necessary (see my recipe below). I was not overly optimistic though to be honest, and assumed this would result in a huge mess and epic failure. Luckily, only half of that turned out to be true. It was most definitely messy, and that is by far the biggest downside to making these. If I do them again, I think I’ll just make a huge batch so that I don’t have to make them very often and can just always have them on hand (or in hand, proceeded by in mouth (possibly passing over a roaring fire first 😉 )) They tasted to me exactly like the vanilla vegan marshmallows I’d been buying before (the Sweet & Sara brand in case you’re interested. Also, if anyone knows anywhere in the Toronto area where I could still buy these, feel free to enlighten me), except even halving the recipe I ended up with close to 20 marshmallows for way cheaper! Now I count that as a win.
Of course I had to verify that these would toast properly without setting my house on fire, so enter crème brulée torch. I figured this would be easier to toast all around if I put it on a fork. If you decide to do this though, don’t be an idiot like me and use a metal fork and not a plastic fork (torch heat + plastic fork = melted plastic mallows….probably not the flavour combo that you’re going for). It toasted up beautifully though – just check out these crisp and crackly edges…mmmmm:
Now I’m ready to usher in cottage season with a vengeance!
Adapted from open source vegan marshmallows
Yield: 24 Marshmallows (depending on the size you cut them and the pan you use)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon VersaWhip
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons agar powder
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup agave
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Candy thermometer
Note: The original recipe calls for using a stand mixer, which would probably make your life a bit easier since you have to beat things for long periods of time. I didn’t have one though and I found that my electric hand mixer on high speed seemed to work just fine.
1. Mix cornstartch and icing sugar together. Spray a small pan (because I halved the original recipe, I used a bread loaf pan for this – you could always double it and put it in an 8×8 pan instead) with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornstarch+icing sugar mixture making sure to coat the pan fully (shake it around a bit), including up the sides of the pan.
2. Combine the VersaWhip and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium-large bowl (it might seem like you don’t need such a large bowl, but trust me, you’ll be happy you used a bigger bowl later since the end result get fairly fluffy). With an electric mixer on the highest speed, beat for 10 minutes (and yes, beat for the full ten minutes). The mixture should increase in volume a fair bit and start to form stiff peaks. Set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan on the stove on medium-high heat, mix the agar with the sugar. Add the 1/4 cup of water and whisk quickly. Once it’s fully mixed and has started to thicken ever so slightly, add in the agave. Stir to mix in. Using your candy thermometer, heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 230 degrees. It should have thickened up quite a bit at this point. The mixture will begin to gel as one large mass and you will be able to catch sight of the bottom of your pan as you stir.
4. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the vanilla.
5. Quickly add the mixture all in one go to your VersaWhip+water fluff mixture. Beat on high speed of an electric mixer for 10 minutes. This starts to get really thick and gel-like. Be careful not to let your beaters stay at the bottom of the bowl for too long or the mix starts to climb above the top of the beaters.
6. FYI – This mixture will be extremely sticky. Using a spatula (possibly coated with more cooking spray and icing sugar/cornstarch), put marshmallow mix into your prepared pan. Sprinkle more cornstarch+icing sugar over the top (or heavily coat your hands or a piece of wax paper) and spread out the mixture as best you can so it’s fairly flat. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
7. Upend pan on a cutting board and cut marshmallows to desired size. Coat exposed edges with more icing sugar/cornstarch.
8. Store in the refrigerator.