I have a secret little love affair with homemade marshmallows. I blame Caitlin for introducing me to the possibility, Zingerman’s for making them blissfully commercially available, and Claire at xoJane for introducing me to a flavor that I didn’t know if I could live without – Maple Whisky! The extra push that brings the food porn to you here today was the realization that I could LASER ETCH them. It. Is. On.
Here is my kitchen. Cramped, poorly lit and un-picturesque. My career as a food blogger was over before it started. If you want pretty and well-lit cooking shots, check out those for the original recipe at theKitchn, or Claire’s modified recipe at xoJane. I do have one mid cooking photo for you: No one drinks alone, not even my mixer. (Maybe it’s better there are no more photos of that part…hi Mom!)
Notes on Cooking the Marshmallows: This was my first attempt at this confectionery. I actually found cooking making marshmallows quite easy, and not nearly as messy as I expected. Clean up was a breeze if done immediately – the biggest disaster is actually my kitchen after cutting and powdering. Powdered sugar and cornstarch everywhere. One thing I would do differently while cooking, for the laser application: get a proper sifter so the layer of powder keeping the ‘mallows from sticking to the pan was lighter and smoother. Mine turned out a little more clumped than necessary, which contributed to a bit of the “craggy” look of my end product.
edited to add: Caitlin let me know oiling the pan also contributes to the “craggy” effect. Too much oil + too much sugar dusting = sugar clumps.
Making them laser-friendly: To prepare the marshmallow block for the laser, I flipped it over onto a wooden cutting board, separated by parchment paper. I figured the bottom would have a flatter surface than the top, given that it was in a glass pan. The tops were relatively smooth after the set (more so than I expected, given the viscosity of the marshmallows) so I half wish I would have tried etching the top…it would have bypassed the clumpy sugar problem on the bottom.
Things we learned:
– On our 40 watt laser, we used 100% power, 25% speed to etch the raster design. We tried a higher speed at first, thinking we’d keep the laser moving quickly so it wouldn’t over heat one area too fast. This etch proved too light and we had to slow it down.
– Etching sugar is an “on” or “off” kind of deal – half tones did not come out clearly, so we were left with black and white designs.
– For the first batch we did one pass of the design(s), being timid about the flavor and color. The second batch we did two passes, throwing caution to the wind. The dark look was more appealing and made the taste more pronounced.
– The marshmallow took delicate designs surprisingly well, but there still needed to be some weight. One pixel lines did not come through well. Text fared pretty decently. The smallest font size we used was 23 points, and each finished cube was roughly 2 inches.
– A pizza cutter was my cutting tool of choice. Cutting did stretch and sometimes break the etched, caramelized portion, but they popped back into place pretty well.
– The etch wasn’t as sharp looking the next day – it seemed to bleed slightly. Perhaps the moisture caused that? Who knows – I’ve never tried to save a roasted marshmallow more than the time it takes to get in my mouth.
– The taste is awesome. I want to just solid raster etch the whole top, no unlasered space left. It is reminiscent of a roasted marshmallow, but it seemed more like a brûlée topping with its light, hard, crackly crunch. And I highly recommend the maple whisky recipe – it was perfect.
And as promised: Foodie glamor shots!