Caramel Apple Toffee Marshmallows
Apple Toffee Marshmallow Fluff
(a mistake in the first batch that turned into a great gift idea)
As we head into Fall I always think about the movie Baby Boom with Diane Keaton. I love that movie as it is about a high-powered New York executive who ends up as the guardian of a baby and strives to find the perfect work-life balance. Not finding it in Manhattan, she moves to Vermont and buys a beautiful (albeit run down) old home sitting on acres of land with apple orchards. As the leaves turn color, the apples ripen and she is overrun by her harvest. Not wanting the apples to go to waste, she makes applesauce…tons of it! That sparks an idea and she ends up creating her own very successful baby food company. There are so many reasons why I love a movie like this…it’s funny, uplifting, empowering and the setting in Vermont makes me want to take a deep breath and savor all that is good and beautiful in the world. So, in a round-about way, perhaps you can understand why Fall also makes me think of APPLES.
According to Cooks Wisdom there are over…..wait for it..7,000 VARIETIES OF APPLES….what??? Seriously, I had to do a double take when I read that. I kid you not, use your search engine (notice how I didn’t say Google it, as you may use Bing or one of the other search engines) and type in ‘number of varieties of apples.’ and out pops 7,000. When I think of apples I think of bobbing for apples (now I’m really dating myself). My Mom, who is one of the most amazing individuals in the world, used to throw me incredibly creative and wonderful parties. One of the best was a Halloween party she hosted when I was about nine or ten. There were all sorts of fun games, but one of the most memorable was bobbing for apples. With our hands tied behind our backs with a bandana, my friends and I would dunk our heads into a large wooden vat of water and try desperately to grab an apple with our teeth. Can you imagine how up in arms parents would be about that these days? The germ-fest was unreal! But, you know how kids roll, we could care less if we were sticking our heads in a bowl full of other people’s saliva as long as we got the end prize….a beautiful, perfectly shaped, crisp apple!!
Given my escape down memory lane, and given that my October issue of Bon Appetite also had an article on homemade applesauce, I knew I was on the right track with wanting to try my hand at making some kind of apple marshmallow. At first I thought about apple pie (I make a pumpkin pie marshmallow that sits atop puff pastry), but then it came to me….I know, a caramel apple!
As always, start by spraying a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray and line with a 12×16 inch sheet of parchment that overhangs about 2 inches on each of the long sides of the pan. Then, spray the parchment with cooking spray, too.
I decided to use apple juice concentrate to make sure the apple flavor would come through and not be dominated by the caramel. Sprinkle four packages of plain gelatin over 3/4 C. apple juice concentrate and water (1/2 C. apple juice concentrate combined with 1/4 C. water) in a large mixer to set for several minutes.
Next, in a medium heavy bottomed pot, add 3 C. baking sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 1/4 C. corn syrup and 3/4 C apple juice concentrate (1/2 C. apple juice concentrate combined with 1/4 C. water). Mix everything together well and then place over a medium-high heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side of your pot. Make sure that your thermometer does NOT touch the bottom of the pot. The sugar mixture has to come to a soft ball stage on a candy thermometer (238° to be exact). Be patient as if you take it off the flame too early, your marshmallows won’t set up and if you take it off too late, your marshmallows will be too stiff.
Add the sugar syrup mixture to the gelatin mixture and turn on your mixer. Start on low speed and gradually increase the speed as the mixture becomes more stiff.
Once the mixture is stiff, add 1 C. toffee bits and mix on slow speed until combined. I was going to use cut up caramel, but thought that might over-take the apple flavor.
Spread into prepared pan and wait at least 3 hours or overnight for the marshmallows to set.
ACK – Mistake discovered! The next morning when I went to check on the marshmallows, I noticed that they were waaaay too soft. I could still cut them and roll them in powdered sugar; however, they were so soft they were sticking to everything even after rolling them in the sugar!! MAYDAY, MAYDAY….MARSHMALLOW EMERGENCY!! My youngest son, Dylan, tasted them and said they tasted great and would be AMAZING ON ICE CREAM. Hm….as I drove him to his gig as a soccer referee, I pondered what to do and how much time I had to run to the market to get more supplies to try my hand at another batch. Then it came to me…..PUT IN MASON JARS, WRAP AND GIVE AS ICE CREAM TOPPING GIFTS!!
Here’s what I surmised went wrong. In the first recipe I used 3/4 C. pure apple concentrate for both the gelatin and corn syrup portions of the recipe (I did NOT dilute with water). I think the mixtures had too much sugar and I also think I took the syrup mixture off the heat just a smidgen too early (remember in the Cookies and Cream recipe I warned that if you take the syrup mixture off too early, the marshmallows will be too soft).
So….I started again. This time the marshmallows set up just fine.
While the marshmallows were setting, I made my own caramel (you don’t have to do this…you can always simmer down Kraft caramels with a bit of water, but I’m a caramel snob and have a particularly easy recipe that you can find here).
Get out a large cutting board, a sharp knife, vegetable oil and two rimmed cookie sheets. Pour some of the vegetable oil into a small ramekin or bowl and oil your knife (keep the oil close as you will need to re-oil your knife from time to time to prevent the marshmallows from sticking to the knife). Alternatively, you can lightly spray your knife with cooking spray.
Put about a cup or so of powdered sugar into one of your cookie sheets and spread it around. Also, dust your cutting board with powdered sugar.
Using the parchment paper, gently lift your marshmallows out of the pan and place on the powdered sugar dusted cutting board with the parchment paper on top. Gently remove the parchment paper.
Place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on your other rimmed baking sheet (you will put your cut marshmallows on this pan so you can drizzle the caramel on top). Take your oiled knife and cut your rectangular block of marshmallow into strips. You can cut them to whatever size you’d like. For these I cut the rectangle in half and then each half into four even strips for a total of eight strips. Work with one strip at a time and roll in the powdered sugar.
Cut each strip into about six marshmallows. Remember to re-oil your knife periodically to prevent the marshmallows from sticking to it. Roll each marshmallow in the powdered sugar (powdered sugar prevents the marshmallows from being sticky….similar to the way you use flour when you are kneading dough). Place the marshmallows on the second rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper.
I knew I wanted to add a little crunch on top so I experimented with a couple of different brands of dried apples.
My personal preference turned out to be the Fuji Apple and Cinnamon Freeze Dried Apple Crisps by Abound that I found at Trader Joes.
Drizzle the homemade caramel on top and then crush up some dried cinnamon apples to sprinkle on top.
I also added some toasted almonds to a few….you can drizzle chocolate on top of the caramel and add nuts, coconut or anything you fancy (just like those $10 caramel apples you see in various candy stores).
And there you have it….Caramel Apple Marshmallows!! They count as a fruit, don’t they?
(Click here for full list of ingredients)
See you in the kitchen,
P.S. Here’s a hint to my next trial flavor….’Two great tastes that taste great together…”