Season’s Greetings Mk II

January 2nd, 2008  |  Published in etc  |  1 Comment

If we know you and you live in Portland, you probably got a jar of homemade marshmallows.

I started with a recipe from Readymade, but after the first batch didn’t strike me so much, I started looking around for variations. I also added food coloring to the peppermint and pumpkin spice ones so people could tell them apart.

As it turns out, the biggest variable I could spot was how long the proto-marshmallic substance was whipped. Readymade said five minutes, others said eight and yet another said fifteen. A batch of chocolate ones whipped for eight minutes were pretty satisfactory.

A batch of peppermint ones whipped for ten minutes were o.k. but suffered from mistakenly listening to someone who argued for pushing the mixture closer to hardball temperatures before whipping. The mixture took on a mind of its own and there was some panic as I got some stuck to a spatula, then to a knife I tried to scrape the spatula with, then to me as I tried to scrape off the knife. Then a tendril of the stuff stretched over to the counter where I took the bowl when I panicked, and the red food coloring tipped over. I eventually got marshmallow on Ben and the shower curtains.

The neat thing about anything that’s 90% sugar is that no matter how much it seems to have hardened into Adhesive X, a few minutes in warm water sends it packing for the Willamette.


The best batch was the last, whipped for 15 minutes. I don’t know if it really came out that much more pillowy after being allowed to set, but it was definitely easier to handle.

Making the marshmallows was pretty simple in the end. From prep to pouring the mixture in a pan to set overnight, I could do a batch in 20 minutes or so.

The peppermint ones go great in hot chocolate. The chocolate ones are wonderful on their own, and the pumpkin spice ones are maybe a bit too much, but not bad in moderation. And I think they’d be good in hot chocolate, too.

The one problem with marshmallows overall is that some people are simply not Marshmallow People, which to my mind is sort of like being a methane breather, but I’m married to someone who can’t abide coconut, even if it means getting to the marshmallow/cakey/filling goodness of a Hostess Snoball, so I can live with that. I suspect that if we do this again, I’ll make something to offer as an alternative, just in case.


Each jar of marshmallows also got a label and a bow. “A Soviet Poster a Day” supplied me with a source image. The lantern-jawed youth in the back was initially kept but scaled down a little for use as Ben, but I ended up cloning the dad, scaling him down and using much less of the underlying poster to make Ben. Kind of a pity, because I liked the strapping son’s “forward to the future!” gesture, but it worked for me to turn the image into some sort of “Olan Mills on the Volga” family shot, too.


  1. k. says:

    February 8th, 2008 at 8:12 am (#)

    I’m a big fan of multimedia productions, particularly when the media forms include canning jars, sugar, home print jobs, and engrossing short stories. Your post doesn’t do justice to the total media environment you produced over the holidays. Fabricated corporations with back stories, and meta back stories and real products. I imagine someone will soon inquire into Finch’s ghost writer. Indeed, the moment is now! Any other tales in the works?


    a fan

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