Periodically, I check in with my calendar and make sure that my schedule reflects my priorities. How am I spending my time? Who am I spending it with? What portion of my day is dedicated to pleasure? Self care? Working toward my goals? Someone once said to me, “how you spend your days is how you live your life”. I really took that to heart, in a profound way.
I live in the urban jungle, but I make it a priority to escape to the woods, the rivers, the beaches, and the mountains as much as possible. Sometimes, its as simple as a dog walk by the bay or a trail run in the woods. As often as possible, I plan camping and backpacking trips where I can sleep under the stars.
Camping is one of my favorite pastimes. Fresh air, simplicity, gorgeous scenery, good friends, sleeping under the stars, waking up with the sun, that first cup of tea… and epic campsite cooking. You didn’t pin me for one of those canned soup kind of campers, did you?
My friends are so trusting and flexible; they always let me plan the meals and seem to enjoy my eagerness about it. This year, for my dear friend Kelly’s birthday trip, we feasted on grain-free biscuits, veggie omelets with curried eggs, garlic and chili crusted pork chops with sweet peppers, farmers market salads with fresh herbs…. and bacon, lots of bacon. And, I decided to veer from my usual birthday caking adventures and make…birthday s’mores.
And these were no ordinary s’mores (of course). Nothing but the absolute best, most delicious, completely over-the-top and unique s’mores would do for Ms. Kelly Lou. The final product: grain and dairy-free bacon almond biscuits with Coracao chocolate chunks, slathered with raspberry jam, topped with melted homemade marshmallows roasted on rosemary skewers over an open fire. Wow.
Here’s how it all began…
I’ve been a bit obsessed with gelatin these days. Its an incredible and health-supportive ingredient that I’ve just recently rekindled a love affair with. A good source of protein and supportive of joint health (amongst other qualities), gelatin from good sources is a real addition to a natural foods pantry. It makes great jam and… marshmallows.
If you’re like me, you haven’t eaten one of those puffy white blobs from the plastic bag at the liquor store in a while. Or maybe you have, but you wished there had been another option. Well I’m here to tell you that there is! You can make your own marshmallows at home, easily, and they taste soooooooo good. You will never go back. Promise.
In preparation for the marshmallows, I lined an 8×8 pan with parchment paper (in both directions, leaving some overlap hanging over the edges to use later as a handle) and greased it with coconut oil. I toasted some shredded coconut on the stovetop and sprinkled it along the bottom of the pan. This step is optional: you can also dust the pan with cocao, chai spices, chopped nuts…anything your heart desires. This will be the topping for your mallows. Alternatively, if you like to keep it plain and simple, you can skip this step. Set the pan aside for later.
Next, I dissolved the gelatin in water in the bowl of my stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer, just dissolve the gelatin in a medium-sized bowl.
Set that aside and add maple syrup, more water, vanilla extract, and sea salt to a saucepan. I used fleur de sel, because I love the flavor. You can use any salt that you like and I encourage you to play around (I bet smoked salt would be incredible).
Bring this mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 220 F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, some meat thermometers measure temperatures that high. When you’ve reached 220F (known as the “soft ball” stage to candy-makers), remove the pan from heat.
Turn your stand mixer on to low speed and gradually add the hot syrup. Then increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks have formed, about 10 minutes. To test if you have achieved stiff peaks, stop the mixer and tilt the whish back. If the marshmallow cream stands up on its own, it is done (its okay if the peaks flop over at the top).
Pour this creamy goodness into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Marshmallows will continue to firm up as they cool. I like to refrigerate mine for at least 30 minutes so they aren’t sticky…. but if you can’t wait and don’t mind a sticky mallow, jump right in!
These marshmallows are great eaten on their own, made into s’mores, chopped up and tossed into a batch of homemade rocky road ice cream, or (my favorite) wrapped in bacon. How will you eat them? Leave a comment and let me know…
At the end of the camping trip, sun-kissed and smiling, I knew that once again I had succeeded in matching my life to my priorities: celebrating my loved ones, feasting, and spending rejuvenating time outdoors.
Enjoy the marshmallows!
1 Tbs coconut oil, for greasing pan
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted (optional)
3 Tbs high-quality beef gelatin
1 cup filtered water, divided
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1. Grease an 8×8 (for thick marshmallows) or larger (for thinner marshmallows) pan with coconut oil and line with parchment paper in both directions, leaving some overhang to use when removing finished marshmallows. Sprinkle the shredded coconut (if using) evenly on the bottom. Set aside.
2. Add the gelatin and 1/2 cup of water to the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to soften.
3. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of water into a saucepan along with the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Using a candy thermometer to check the temperature, boil the mixture until it reaches 240 F, about 7-8 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from heat.
4. With the stand mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot mixture into the bowl, combining it with the softened gelatin. Turn the mixer to high and beat the mixture until it becomes thick and forms peaks, about 10 minutes.
5. Turn off the mixer and transfer the thickened mixture to the prepared pan. If desired, smooth the top with greased hands or parchment paper.
6. For the best texture, chill overnight before cutting. Marshmallows can be served after 30 minutes at room temperature, but they will be stickier.
Yield: 8 x 8 pan
Adapted from a recipe on The Urban Poser blog