Book review: “Marshmallow Madness” by Shauna Sever

You might think you know marshmallows. Those big, puffy white pillows that come in a Jet-Puffed bag or those tiny, crunchy blue stars and red hearts in a box of Lucky Charms. Think again.

Shauna Sever (of the blog Piece of Cake) brings you a myriad of delicious and delightful marshmallow recipes in her new cookbook “Marshmallow Madness”. The recipes range from classic Vanilla Marshmallows to boozy Margarita Marshmallows to fruity Key Lime Pie Marshmallows (rolled in crushed graham cracker crumbs)!

I set out to try one of the recipes and settled on Root Beer Float Marshmallows.

Root Beer Float Marshmallows

These marshmallows are made with actual bottled root beer. Root beer is mixed with the gelatin and it’s also added into the sugar/corn syrup mixture, which gets whipped along with the gelatin to within an inch of its life.

Shauna’s recipes are clear, concise and easy to follow. I was skeptical that the liquidy mess I was pouring into the bowl of my KitchenAid mixer would turn into marshmallow, but sure enough, it tripled in volume and became a gooey, sticky, delicious confection. Wary of getting a spatula coated in marshmallow, I simply coated my hands with cooking spray and scooped the marshmallow goo into a greased 8×8 glass pan by hand.

The hardest part of the whole marshmallow-making procedure is waiting six hours for the marshmallow to cure and set up. But set up it does! These marshmallows aren’t anything like those Jet-Puffed ones; they’re light and airy but with a little bit of jiggle. The people who tasted these marshmallows compared their appearance to tofu or flan, but I think that had more to do with the slightly tan color that came from the root beer.

I only had two issues with my marshmallows. The first was that the root beer flavor was just a little too subtle. Shauna writes that root beer extract is optional if you’re using a high-quality root beer. I went with Virgil’s, which is an amazingly flavorful root beer, but the intensity of the flavor just didn’t carry over. When I make these again (and I will make them again), I will definitely add the root beer extract for the added oomph of flavor.

The second problem was that my marshmallows seemed to absorb the powdered sugar and cornstarch coating that they were dusted with. The coating helps to keep the marshmallows from sticking together, but my coating just got absorbed. I’m not sure if I should have dusted them and then laid them all out single file on a baking sheet instead of throwing the in a Tupperware bowl (which is what I did). I will play around with this coating in my next few marshmallow attempts until I get it right.

Root Beer Float Marshmallows

There are so many wonderful recipes in this book that I can’t wait to try. I’m especially looking at the aforementioned Key Lime Pie marshmallows and the vegan ones for my sister-in-law.

And, just in time for Easter, Shauna has linked a couple of videos on her blog that will teach you how to make your very own Marshmallow Peeps! I’m already committed to bringing an Angel Food Cake to my family’s Easter dinner, but those Peeps were second on my list!

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