Saturday, March 13, 2010

When Life Hands You Potato Starch...

A few months ago, I wrote about a new website called Eat Your Books. It's a cool idea: you create a virtual bookshelf of all the cookbooks you own, and since Eat Your Books has indexed the recipes in those books, you can search for all kinds of things. Say you're wondering which of your cookbooks have recipes for cassoulet. Or you want to make a summery seafood appetizer but don't know which book to look in. Or there's a bag of potato starch in your fridge that you don't know what to do with.

Oh, did I say potato starch? Yeah. Close readers may recall I bought it (along with a bunch of other unusual ingredients) to make some recipes out of the BabyCakes NYC cookbook awhile back. Haven't used it since. So I searched "potato starch" in my cookbooks on Eat Your Books, and what do you know? Along with a bunch of vegan recipes from BabyCakes, there were recipes for cakes from BakeWise and Joy of Cooking, as well as a recipe for marshmallows from Baking by Dorie Greenspan. Sold!

You start by getting sugar and light corn syrup to a "soft ball" stage (that's 265 degrees F) on the stove. While that's going, you sprinkle unflavored gelatin onto cold water, let it get spongy, and then liquefy it in the microwave. Whip up some egg whites, add the syrup, then the gelatin, along with some vanilla, and you've got a very pretty meringue.

Here's where the potato starch comes in. It's like a powdery buffer that keeps the marshmallows from sticking to everything. You sprinkle it over a parchment paper-covered baking sheet, pour in the marshmallow mixture, and then top it off with more potato starch. Three hours later, you cut up the marshmallows and toss them in more of the stuff, which is similar in consistency to cornstarch or powdered sugar.

I probably should've made the marshmallows a bit thicker, but I'm still satisfied with them. They're light and springy, and don't taste at all like the plastic-y ones that come out of a bag from the supermarket. Oh, and in case you were wondering? Nothing like potatoes, either!--S

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