Friday, January 9, 2015

Toasted Marshmallow Iced Coffee

Coffee has always played a special role in my life. Its scent is associated with childhood visits from family and friends coming over for dinner. When I went to college, I studied at a coffee shop for hours slowly slipping my non-fat iced latte. During a double shift at the restaurant, friends would drop off a Thai Iced Coffee to rocket me through. After college, I worked as a barista at Starbucks for a year. Now, amazingly enough, it is a weekend ritual and sweet retreat with my husband.

When I first met Mike, he was not a coffee or espresso drinker. For any other person, this would have been a deal breaker. They would have asked me out - I inevitably would ask, "hey want to get coffee?" and their "no" would have turned my agreement into, "Ohhh... THIS Saturday night? I have to wash my hair that night and walk the cat."

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating... maybe...  

Regardless, I'm not exactly sure what happened in the progression of our relationship that converted Mike to a coffee/espresso drinker. He would join me at cafes to listen to music and draw while I read a book or studied for an exam. There were a few sparkling lemonades and hot cocoas. Then he ventured into big game: espresso. His first affair was with the Turtle Mocha at Caribou, then a romp with Nutella iced-lattes, and has currently settled into a very light Mocha.

Real love is learning how someone like's their coffee. For example, my mother and (rest in peace) grandfather both like it super sugary and with tons of cream. I found that the hubby has a similar palette but doesn't like artificial flavors, heavy syrups, and overly-bitter notes. That's how I knew that this coffee was a must-try in our household!

This recipe calls for iced coffee, simple syrup (pictured on the right), a touch of cream, and marshmallow creme (pictured on the left). Making the iced coffee and simple syrup is extremely easy. 

The marshmallow creme, however, does take a degree of determination. The boiled sugar becomes precarious to handle and hardens quickly on anything it touches. Be sure to read the directions before jumping into it and you'll be fine. Also, you will need a candy thermometer. My mixing bowl took a beating with solidified threads of caramel but an overnight soak in the sink fixed it right up!

The good news is it's well worth the effort and makes the store-bought stuff look like a joke. I could see this being used as a topping on a myriad of other tasty treats, from raw strawberries to cupcake frosting.

The final special requirement of this recipe is the cooking torch. Miracously, I actually have one of these thanks to my brother! The year that I baked the Brûléed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving stood out like a sore thumb in his mind because I didn't have the proper equipment. I insisted that I didn't need a torch because I had no intent on making a brulee in the near future. A few weeks later for the holidays, he knew exactly what he wanted to give me. Thanks, Joey!

Who would have thought that I'd use it to toast marshmallows indoors? 

If you don't have a wicked little kitchen flambe torch device - no worries. You can either make the marshmallow creme and toast it with the oven broiler - or - you can use regular marshmallows and toast them in the oven (instructions below). It's not quite the same because they're not as gooey and soft as the creme but they can do the trick in a pinch.

To assemble, mix iced coffee with a healthy bit of ice. Add as much simple syrup as you want to your coffee (I like 1-2 tablespoons) and stir. Top with a splash of cream (or whatever you prefer) and healthy dollop of the marshmallow creme. Flambe the creme and bask in the glory of your Toasted Marshmallow coffee!

Toasted Marshmallow Iced Coffee
slightly modified from Confectionalism

Iced Coffee (makes 2-4 cups)
2/3 cups coffee beans
3 cups cold water

Coarsely grind the beans in a food processor; let soak in the water overnight.  Strain the beans with a fine mesh sieve or a cheese cloth. Set aside. 

Simple Syrup
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water

Mix the sugars with water in a small pot until it reaches a boil. Let it simmer for 3-5 minutes; stir occasionally. When it cools, it will have a syrup-like consistency.  Store in the fridge or at room temperature.

Marshmallow Creme (option 1)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/6 cups water
pinch of salt
1 large egg white, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium, heavy bottomed, saucepan over high heat.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy/fat thermometer. Read next step to prepare meringue while you wait.

While the sugar is boiling: Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin whipping the egg whites to soft peaks on medium speed. (you want the egg whites whipped and ready, so when the sugar syrup comes to 250 degrees F you can immediately drizzle it in. If they’re whipping up faster than your syrup is coming to temperature, just stop the mixer at soft peaks until the syrup is to temp.)

When the syrup reaches 240°F, reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly pour about 3 tablespoons of syrup into the egg whites to warm them Slowly pour in the rest of the syrup, between the bowl and the whip. Increase the speed to medium high and whip until the marshmallow crème is stiff and glossy, about 6 minutes.

Add in the vanilla and whip 1 minute more.

Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Marshmallow Creme (option 2)
6 marshmallows per cup
Take 6 marshmallows and nestle them inside a cupcake tin. Using a cooking torch or oven broiler (careful now!), toast the top and edges until they lightly melt and bond together. Allow it to cool and place on top of combined iced coffee as a finishing touch.