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Friday, July 31, 2009

one hot, happy, gooey mess

so, i mentioned before that i'd slaved over a new recipe for spinach lasagna the other night for dinner - and then ended up going out for chinese food instead. d-oh!

and then we went to universal studios and had yummy garlic chicken from versailles the next night. so that meant that dinner on wednesday was all assembled and ready to pop into the oven and serve! i guess it all works out in the end, huh?

i've never made this stuff before, and the recipe called for a homemade batch of b├ęchamel sauce. and nope, i sure didn't know what the hell that was either until i made it. such a fancy name for butter, flour, milk, and salt & pepper!

the assembled pan sat in the fridge until i was darn well good and ready to bake it. and when it came out of the oven, it was all bubbly and gooey and delicious.

but i have to say - this dish is SUPER rich. the teen said it was amazing, and the hub devoured his serving but declined a second. "i feel like i need to run ten miles to work that off," he said. the only thing i could say to make him feel better about it was "um, i used fat-free half and half and reduced fat cheeses?" heh.

so about the cookies i made yesterday - OMG. they're so scrumptious. as i mentioned, my buddy ssinca dangled this link in front of me like a carrot for chocolate-marshmallow cookies. much like OG mallomars, they're bites of shortbread cookie topped with homemade vanilla bean marshmallow and dipped in chocolate. drooling yet?

i started with the cookie dough. it was simple enough - flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, eggs, etc. pretty basic. i shaped it into a disc as directed, wrapped it up, and let it chill in the fridge for an hour-ish. i sprinkled some flour onto my countertop and got to work.

now, you guys know that i'm seriously lacking in kitchen equipment these days, with most of it in storage. so when i needed a 1.5" round cookie cutter and my little juice glass wasn't little enough, i got creative.

what IS that, you ask? why, it's a lid for one of the bean's milk containers. yup. resourcefulness at its best!

i cut and rolled, cut and rolled, finally giving up and putting the rest of the dough back in the fridge. while the recipe said it would yield about 2 dozen cookies, i ended up with...sixty.

while they cooled on a rack, i got to work on the marshmallow topping. i mixed up the sugar, corn syrup, and water and set it to boil.

once that was done, i dissolved gelatin in some water, added it in, and then got to work whipping up a couple of egg whites. once they were nice and puffy, i tackled the next step - splitting and seeding a vanilla bean.

i've never worked with a whole vanilla bean before. i also always assumed they were crazy expensive, but once i was suckered into this recipe, i had to buy some. and i was happy to find them at my beloved f'in sleazy for a lot cheaper than i expected - there's 2 beans in that bottle for a whopping $3.99.

i busted out a paring knife to slice it in half lengthwise, and then used the sharp tip to scrape out the goods. kinda looked like dooky until i hit it with my mixer, and then it just looked like a bowl of goopy, melty vanilla bean ice cream.

and here's where i missed a crucial step - i poured the goo into a ziploc bag (since, of course, i didn't have a "real" pastry bag) without whipping it again. i was even thinking, "wow, this marshmallow sure is goopy. how on earth is it going to set properly?" oops. and being a lazy ass, i opened that bag up, stuck the beaters inside, and hit the button.

big mistake.

it was going great - for about 3.75 seconds. and then a corner of the bag got caught in the beaters. plastic soon became twisted all around and between them, and in no time there was a hole somewhere in the bag, spewing liquid marshmallow all over the counter. i freaked out, briefly considered starting over, and then decided that i didn't want to waste that precious vanilla bean.

i yowled for backup, and the teen scurried right over and helped me scoop the spilled 'mallow into a bowl - you know, like i should've done in the first place. it was sticky and gooey everywhere, and i managed to unravel the bag from the beaters and squeeze the stuff into the bowl. i don't even think i lost that much after the fiasco. times like that i wish i had a video camera in the kitchen. i'm willing to bet it would've been high-larious.

i pulled myself together, grabbed the mixer again, and picked up where i'd left off. after a couple of minutes of furious mixing at top speed, it was finally the right consistency and i poured it into a whole new bag.

taking a tip from other bloggers who'd tackled this recipe, i decided to smear some peanut butter and some nutella on a few of the cookies before topping them with the marshmallow.

i cut a hole in the corner of the ziploc and got to work piping the goo onto the cookies. they look nothing like the recipe i was copying, but i didn't care. i'd managed to sample a bit from the beaters, and WOW. homemade marshmallow goo is so, so, so delicious.

the marshmallow required a couple of hours to set up and solidify enough to be dipped into the chocolate, so i placed my little cookie army on the table and headed back to the counter to clean up the residue left behind by the marshmallow/mixer disaster. what a freaking mess.

the chocolate glaze was simple - a bag of semisweet chocolate chips melted in a pyrex bowl over simmering water, with a little vegetable oil mixed in.

drop, flip, shake.

the bean might have stuck her paw into a cookie or two. and then scurried underneath the table to hide. "what chocolate, mom? i don't know what you're talking about."

it was tough, but i managed to twist the teen's arm and get her to test one out, too.

i ended up running out of chocolate (even after dipping into my emergency chocolate chip stash), but it was okay - i still had a shitton of completed cookies. the teen helped me in marking the peanut butter and nutella versions, so that it was easy to tell which was which. sprinkles = nutella. powdered sugar = peanut butter. plain = well, plain.

because it was silly humid outside and we'd opened the windows to give the a/c unit a break, the chocolate just flat-out refused to harden. so before i headed off to bed, i rearranged the contents of my fridge and stuck the racks in there. and the next morning, they were perfect. and ridiculously yummy.

not wanting to gain 130432804382 pounds from 60 delicious cookies just chillin' in the house, i decided to share them with some friends i was meeting for happy hour. i dressed them up in white candy wrappers, placed 3 in white candy boxes, and put them in a cooler bag with an ice pack.

a full post is coming, but suffice it to say that the girls were quite happy with their little sweet surprises. hey, it ain't a party without favors.

the million dollar question: would i make these again?

and the answer: yeah, i would. it was super time-consuming, rather labor-intensive, but the steps were simple and actually rather fun. and the end result is totally worth it. not to mention, homemade marshmallows are no longer a daunting task in my eyes. i'm looking forward to fall/winter - for lots of reasons, but one being that i plan to make just the marshmallows, pour them in a pan, and cut them into squares to put in hot chocolate.

mmmmmm. won't that be divine?


  1. 'Twas like a tiny little Choco Pie. Thank you.

  2. I loved this post! So fun!

    Please let me know when I need to be over for the homemade marshmallows. Kthx! :)

  3. I'd be willing to be that next time you make it these cookies will be far less time consuming and a lot easier. The first time is always the longest and hardest.

  4. you are my hero! those look delicious!!!

  5. I lol when I saw your "cookie cutter." So resourceful, like a mommy McGuyver.

    The cookies were delicious! It was the first time I've had homemade marshmallow, so good. Thanks for sharing. =)

  6. Don't hate me, but I laughed really hard when I read about your ziploc bag fiasco because that's exactly what I would have done. The marshmallow seriously looks so good. I may have to just make the marshmallow part of the recipe :)

  7. Those cookies are so good! I still have 2 in the refrigerator. Since my H turned one down last night, I'm going to carry that refusal over to today and have both as my dessert.

  8. Holy eff! I didn't know that you made the marshmallow topping from scratch... You're my hero! I even manage to save one for Mr. Insom.

  9. I made the spinach lasagna last week (maybe week before?) and it turned out awesome. Thanks again for your help with my b├ęchamel.


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