SHF #30, or step 1 in a project i really don't have time for but am going to do anyway

i've made it my mission to provide my fellow photographers in my weekly studio class with a bit of a snack. fine, right? some might even say friendly. and i like to do it, because it gives me an excuse to bake, and plus i end up with no leftovers. it's a win-win-win situation.

except this week, it's more challenging than that. because if i were really being conscientious--that is to say, if i were really being "focused," as my father would tell me--i wouldn't be baking at all, i'd be concentrating on packing for my impending move from our nation's capital to (IMHO) the greatest city on earth, new york. i'd be worrying about getting my boxes and finding all of my kitchen gadgets and emptying out the fridge and packing my clothes and all of those detail things that are really important when you move, like closing your bank account and changing your address and figuring out when to turn off the cable and the electricity.

but no, not me. i'm worried about what to serve my co-workers when they come for dinner on friday and how to use up those extra cashew nuts i found in the pantry and wondering if i can temper ghiradelli chocolate to make cashew bark (no, as it turns out, ghiradelli has too many emulsifiers to temper).

and i'm thinking about what to bring to class on thursday. this week, we're doing tabletop photography, so i want to bring something yummy AND photogenic so that i can work on taking my skills up a few levels and show my creations with a little more pride.

i'd been considering this recipe, from dorie greenspan's paris sweets, for a few weeks. at least, i'd bookmarked it and wondered if i'd ever find an excuse to make it. then, several factors converged and made my attempt inevitable. firstly, SHF 30 was announced as "flower power," which meant that i'd finally have a reason to try baking with some kind of flower water and which, coincidentally, this recipe calls for. secondly, i had a huge bag of potato starch leftover from passover that i don't feel like schlepping between cities. thirdly, i have several random packages of gelatin floating around that i similarly don't care to move. finally, i have this huge bag of frozen strawberries, which i'd purchased with the very healthy intention of making smoothies for breakfast, only to be thwarted by the fact that i can't drink cold things for breakfast when it's still in the 30s or 40s on my walk to work...

and so i present stage one of dorie's french strawberry marshmallow tart, strawberry-orange blossom marshmallows. (soon to be followed by the pie crust, pastry cream and finished product in time for thursday evening's class)

(from dorie greenspan's paris sweets)

Approximately 1 cup (100 grams) potato starch
8 to 10 ripe strawberries (about 3/4 cup; 100 grams), hulled
1 1/4 cups (300 grams) cold water
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Scant 1/4 cup (75 grams) light corn syrup
4 packets powdered gelatin
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon orange-flower water

i. Line a 12 x 17-inch (30 x 42.5-cm) baking sheet that has a 1-inch (2.5-cm) rim with parchment paper and dust the paper heavily with potato starch; keep close at hand.

2. Purée the strawberries in a blender (traditional or hand-held) or food processor. You should have a scant 1/2 cup (100 grams); set this aside.

3. Put 2/3 cup (150 grams) of the water, 21/2 cups (500 grams) of the sugar, and
of the corn syrup into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over medium
heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar dissolves, stop stir-
ring and continue to cook the syrup until it reaches 265°F (130°C) on a candy
thermometer, a process that could take about 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 2/3 cup (150 grams) col:
water and let soften for 5 minutes, then heat for 35 to 45 seconds in a microwav:
oven to liquefy (or do this stovetop); set this aside.

5. Put the egg whites in the clean, dry bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk a:-
tachment and beat on medium-high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks
(Make sure not to overbeat, or the peaks will go dull.)

6. As soon as the sugar syrup has come up to temperature, reduce the mixer spee
to medium and add the syrup, pouring it close to the side of the bowl to avola
the spinning whisk. Using the same technique, add the dissolved gelatin. Beat
for about 3 minutes to fully incorporate the syrup and gelatin.

7. Switch to a large rubber spatula and very gently fold the strawberry purée,
well as the orange-flower water, into the hot batter. Turn the batter out onto the
potato starch-dusted baking sheet and spread it into one of the ends, making
sure it reaches into the corners. Continue spreading the batter, keeping it 1 inch
(2.5 cm) thick: you'll probably have enough batter to make a 12-inch (30-cm)
square. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the marshmal-
low batter and put something against the paper to keep it in place (a couple of
spice jars or custard cups or some dried beans will do the trick). Generously
dust the top of the marshmallow square with potato starch. Allow the marsh-
mallow to cool and set in a cool, dry place, about 3 hours (they can rest
overnight, if that's more convenient for you).

8. When you are ready to serve the marshmallows (or to use them in the tart, in my case), cut the square into lanyards or cubes using a thin-bladed knife or large scissors. In either case, moisten and clean the blade(s) of-
ten. Cut marshmallows should be dusted all over with potato starch and the
excess shaken off.

K E E P IN G Dusted with potato starch, marshmallows will hold up for a week
or more if you pack them in an airtight container and keep them in a cool, dry

a note from puu: i'm honestly not 100% sure that these marshmallows turned out properly. this is the second time i've tried a dorie marshmallow recipe; the first time was a complete disaster. frankly, i've had better luck with lisa yockelson's technique from chocolatechocolate. but i figured that since these are for a tart anyway, not to be eaten plain, then perfection wasn't a prerequisite...


Peabody said...

At least you did it! I like the use of orange blossom...good use of the theme.

Lis said...

Ohhh I can't wait to see this finished tart! I love the idea of the marshmallows being flavored with the orange flower water - yum!


Brilynn said...

Your group must love you! I need to get Paris Sweets.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Dang I'm with Brilynn, I really need Paris Sweets! I love the marshmallow idea! Love to see the photos...

Monisha said...

I'm glad you decided to participate amidst all the craziness of moving. You go girl! The strawberry-orange water marshmallows sound delicious.