Recipes: Marshmallow World Using Chicken Eggs
‘It’s A Marshmallow World In The Winter, When The Snow Comes To Cover The Ground’
Reading Time: 6 minutes
By Janice Cole, Minnesota
I love the first snowfall, especially when it falls near the holidays, covering the bare branches and brown grass. My chickens don’t share my enthusiasm however, as they skid to a stop at their coop door and peer warily out over the white landscape the morning of that first snow. I usually have one adventurous hen that sniffs and nibbles at the snow while the others opt to keep their feet dry by staying on the straw in the covered run. By midwinter, these northern girls will venture out happily onto the snow-lined paths, but for this first snowfall they play it safe.
I love having the excuse of visiting the coop to get out into the snow everyday, but I’m equally happy hibernating in the kitchen baking holiday treats. This year, I’ve been focusing on light and airy treats made from egg whites such as meringues, marshmallows and other low calorie, zero-fat delights. Egg whites and a little sugar will create billowy clouds that resemble snow drifts. Add a little flavoring and I’ve got the basis for a multitude of cold weather treats. I always freeze any extra egg whites throughout the year in resealable plastic bags so I have an abundance of egg whites even if my flock has stopped laying during the short December days.
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Meringues are simplicity at its best: egg white, sugar and maybe a little flavoring whipped until fluffy. That’s it. Eating meringue is a little like eating a snowflake — it melts instantly on your tongue. Making a meringue is a little like magic. When you beat egg whites and sugar together air gets trapped in small bubbles by proteins and water and the mixture expands to eight to 10 times its volume, creating billowy clouds of delicately sweetened air.
Using a small amount of sugar will create a soft meringue-like the type swirled on top of pie, while adding a larger amount of sugar will create the firm meringues needed for cookies, cakes and pie crusts.
Follow these tips when making meringues:
• Always start with very clean bowls and equipment. No grease should linger anywhere or the egg whites will not expand.
• Cream of tartar is an acid that helps to stabilize the egg whites.
• Superfine sugar is helpful when making meringue as it dissolves faster and incorporates into the egg white easier, but it’s not essential.
• Start adding the sugar after the egg whites have reached the soft peak stage.
• Adding the sugar too soon means it takes longer to get a good volume (although adding it early is better than adding it too late).
• Adding the sugar too late will result in flat, dry meringues.
• Make meringues on dry, low humidity days. Humid, damp days may cause damp, weeping meringues as moisture is pulled from the air.
Egg White Tips
Egg whites are simply proteins and water. When fresh, they’re cloudy and viscous, but as they age, they become thinner and slightly clearer. Once heat is applied, the egg white turns solid white. The key to turning egg whites into billowy foams and luscious desserts is to treat them gently and with care.
• When separating eggs, make sure no particle of egg yolk gets into the egg white. Any trace of fat in the yolk will ruin the egg white foam.
• Fresh eggs are easier to separate than older eggs.
• Cold eggs are easier to separate than warm eggs.
• Both fresh and older egg whites will whip into a delicate foam, fresh eggs taking longer to whip but are slightly more stable, while older eggs whip up faster with larger volume but are slightly less stable.
• Frozen and then thawed egg whites whip easily and form great volume.
• Duck eggs: For those of you who have ducks and notice a difference in the beating of duck egg whites as compared to chicken eggs, food scientist Harold McGee explains that duck eggs have very little lysozyme, one of the protein globulins found in chicken eggs, and are therefore less likely to produce as successful an egg white foam as chicken eggs.
Chocolate-Dipped Homemade Marshmallows
If you’ve never tried homemade marshmallows, you’re in for a treat. Unlike the chewy commercial brands filled with stabilizers, these marshmallows are delicate, melt-in-the-mouth tender morsels you won’t be able to resist. Serve them as little one-bite treats on a buffet table, package them and give them as gifts or make upscale s’mores.
1/2 cup water, divided
1 (1/4-oz.) envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 egg whites (1/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Melted chocolate with 1/4 teaspoon coconut oil or canola oil for dipping. Top each piece with crushed peppermint sticks, graham crackers, shredded coconut, chopped toasted nuts, toffee or sprinkles.
1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup of the water in small bowl. Let stand until softened.
2. Combine remaining 1/4 cup water, sugar and corn syrup in small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until temperature reaches 245ºF.
3. Meanwhile, beat egg whites in large bowl until firm peaks form. With mixer running, slowly pour hot sugar syrup into egg whites, avoiding pouring syrup directly on beater. Melt gelatin by putting mixture into saucepan used to make syrup. Stir until melted. Slowly add to egg whites. Beat egg white mixture 5 to 6 minutes or until room temperature. Beat in peppermint extract.
4. Combine cornstarch and powdered sugar. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil; sprinkle bottom with cornstarch mixture to cover. Spread marshmallow mixture in pan. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature 4 hours or overnight.
5. Remove marshmallows from pan; dust top with cornstarch mixture. Cut into squares using pizza cutter; toss in cornstarch mixture shaking off excess in strainer.
6. Dip tops of marshmallows in melted chocolate and sprinkle with toppings. Let stand until set. (Store at room temperature.)
— Makes about 3 dozen
You don’t have to get bundled up and go outside to enjoy these snowballs! With crunchy toasted coconut and chewy delicate centers, these airy meringue cookies are the perfect counterpoint to heavy holiday eating. You definitely won’t mind if one gets tossed your way — they’re guilt-free eating at its best. These are flavored with coconut and vanilla, but feel free to substitute almond, orange or peppermint flavoring to taste.
2 egg whites (1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
1. Heat oven to 250ºF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.
2. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large bowl at medium speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 30 seconds or until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in sugar. Increase speed to high and beat 1 minute or until egg whites are stiff and glossy. At low speed, beat in cornstarch and flour until blended. Beat in coconut and vanilla extracts just until blended.
3. Using an ice cream scoop, drop 1 tablespoon meringue per cookie onto baking sheet. Sprinkle with coconut.
4. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until dry and crisp when gently touched. Turn off oven; let meringues stand in the oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely on wire rack. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Store at room temperature in airtight container.
— Makes 32 cookies
Meringue Pie Crust
To make a meringue pie crust, eliminate the coconut and powdered sugar. Shape the meringue on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet into a 9-inch round, individual rounds, or pile it into a greased 9-inch pie pan. Bake as directed above until dry and crisp.
Cool and fill with seasonal fruit (try cooked cranberries and apples this time of the year) and top with whipped cream mixed with yogurt.
Meringue Cake Rounds
Spread the meringue mixture into two 9-inch rounds onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake until dry and crisp. Layer with your favorite frosting. For a frozen cake, store in the freezer and serve frozen.
Backyard egg whites can be turned into another unexpected pantry staple becoming a great gift idea or fun dessert topping. Serve this with your favorite homemade hot chocolate, over ice cream] for the ultimate do-it-yourself sundae, pipe it onto cupcakes for frosting or use it as in ingredient anytime marshmallow crème or fluff is called for.
3/4 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites (1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine sugar, corn syrup, water and salt in small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until temperature reaches 240ºF.
2. Meanwhile, beat egg white and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, slowly pour hot sugar syrup into egg whites, avoiding beater. Beat 8 to 10 minutes or until room temperature. Beat in vanilla extract. (Store in refrigerator.)
— Makes 2 cups
Janice Cole is a food editor, writer and recipe developer who raises backyard chickens in Minnesota. She is the author of Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes (Chronicle Books; 2011). For more recipes and her blog, go to janicecole.net.