Monday, December 7, 2009

Butter and Bacon Make Everything Better

As promised, I have been diligently working on my homemade holiday gifts this weekend and I wanted to share a few of them. My friend Athena came up for a little R&R and went to work making homemade marshmallows, bacon ice cream and bath scrub (I know, not edible, but I thought I'd share anyway).

I dipped these marshmallows in melted chocolate, topped them with a
salted pecan and sprinkled sea salt over them - to die for.

The marshmallows were so easy that I'm pretty sure I'll never buy the store-bought kind again. They were also way tastier and you can do all sorts of fun things with them (including adding liquor - you won't find those at your typical grocery store...). The only thing with them was that they needed two ingredients that I don't normally stock - gelatin and corn syrup (I really try and stay away from the stuff!) so that did require a special trip to the store. However, with a stand mixer, they take no time at all, albeit are a bit messy.

Whipping the mallow... and the finished much better than store-bought

Now the bacon ice cream was pretty much amazing, though very subtle in the bacon department. It could definitely have handled a bit more bacon. The base flavor is brown sugar and you mix in caramalized pieces of bacon. Yum! I think that if you made little ice cream balls with this, poked a popsicle stick in them and dipped them in chocolate and refroze you would have yourself a real dinner party winner.

Bacon caramelizing...                          The finished (awesome) product!

Lastly, the bath scrub - SO EASY and this stuff costs so dang much when you buy it! All it is is a mix of sugar, sea salt, epsom salt, a little essential oil and some carrier oil - olive, sunflower, almond and walnut all work well. you mix it together and plop it in some glass jars and you have yourself a beautiful holiday gift.

 Rose and ylang ylang body scrub - 
I'm never buying this in a store again, too easy to make!

Next week I'm hoping to have time to make some chocolate bark and some other goodies - until then - happy eating!


Homemade Marshmallows

nonstick cooking spray

1 cup cold water divided in two halves
3 x 1/4oz packets of gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
optional: substitute 3-5 Tbsp kahlua, almond, lemon or other flavoring for some of the water*
Athena with mallow hands...scary   

-Line a 13x9x2 in pan with wax paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray
- pour 1/2 cup of water into the bowl of a stand mixer, add the gelatin and let sit for 15 minutes (until all of the gelatin is           
absorbed). (*this is where you would substitute your flavoring) 
-Combine 2 cups of sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining 1/2 cup of water into a heavy saucepan. Stir at med-low heat until the sugar is dissolved brushing the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water.
- Bring to a boil without stirring for 8 minutes.
- With the mixer running at low speed, pour in the hot sugar mix into the gelatine, in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Gradually increase the speed and whip at high for 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to incorporate (30 sec.)
- Scrape mix into the prepared pan, making sure the wet your spatula (and hands!) with cold water to keep it from sticking and know that you wont get everything out of the bowl because a layer will stick there.
- leave out, uncovered for at least 4 hours (it's ok to leave it out over night).
- Cover your work surface with powdered sugar and turn the marshmallow out onto it. Remove the waxed paper and sift more powdered sugar onto that side. Cover a knife with cooking spray and cut mallow into 1 inch x 1 inch squares (or any shape you desire). Toss in powdered sugar to coat and shake off excess.
- They will keep in an air tight container separated by parchment paper for up to two weeks.

*** a great party trick to do with these is dip them in melted chocolate and roll them in graham cracker crumbs with a toothpick for a stem. You've got a little bite of s'more right there.

Brown Sugar Bacon Ice Cream

7 Strips of good quality bacon (think cut = yum)
3 Tbsp brown sugar

For custard:

5 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp salted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 cups half and half, divided
2 tsp whiskey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

The ice cream maker - making magic        
- Set oven to 400 degrees
- place the bacon on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the two tbsp of brown sugar between the 7 pieces.
- place them in the oven for 12-15 minutes,   
flipping the bacon mid way through. They should be a deep brown when they're ready.
- transfer to a cooling rack until crispy and candied. Cut into small strips or pieces.

for the custard:
- melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add the brown sugar and half of the half and half. Once fully dissolved take off the heat and let cool slightly.
- Pour the remaining half and half into a bowl sitting in an ice bath.
- In another bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Add a small amount of the warm brown sugar mix to it and stir well. Add a little bit more and then add all of the brown sugar mix - you do this so as not to cook the egg yolk.
- Pour it all back into the sauce pan. Stir over moderate heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Then, using a fine-mesh strainer, pour into the chilled half and half. Add liquor and vanilla and stir until cool.
- place the mixture in the fridge until thoroughly chilled.
- Pour into your ice cream maker and follow manufacterer's directions, add the bacon bits five minutes before chilling cycle is finished. Place in freezer until firm.
- Serve by itself or with a warm chocolate sauce!!!