Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A couple of Candy Icings

OK; today, kiddies, we'll be making some old-school icings (aka frostings. Don't think I should have to AKA that, but you never know...) from the same recipe book as the Waffles of the Ancients; yes, they're even better than the waffles, in a "This isn't a breakfast food, or even a bread- it's frosting, you idiot. Come on, George. That's like comparing apples and rocket fuel." kind of way.

Two icings today; Marshmallow icing and Fudge icing. Both are incredible.
I last used these together on my birthday cake; Chocolate cake with marshmallow icing as filling/binder between layers, and fudge as the outer icing. Decorated with the marshmallow icing. Oh, man was that good.
Hrm. I guess I'll have to post a cake, next. Maybe an Ice Cream cake. Hmmm... Anyway...

You're probably thinking "Great preamble, but why are you calling them CANDY icings?"

Simple: these both require you know how to make (syrup-based) candy. If you don't have a candy thermometer (or don't know about the various candy stages and how to test for them), do not pass go, do not collect Candy icings. Jump to the notes for some helpful linkage.)
OK; once you A. have a RELIABLE thermometer AND/or B. feel that you can use the water tests to verify candy stages, you can get started:

Marshmallow Icing

Warning: If you aren't comfortable in your kitchen, or more specifically with multitasking with somewhat delicate tasks in your kitchen, this one's not for you. Although I DO still recommend you try. After all, how else will you get used to it, right?

1 1/2 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cup Boiling water
1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1 Egg whites, stiffly beaten
8 Diced (full size) Marshmallows OR 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Marshmallow Cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla flavoring
Pinch of Salt (A few grains, not a big macho pinch)

1. Combine the Sugar, Water, Cream of Tartar, and salt in a saucepan.
2. In what will be the final container, Whip the Egg white until stiff peaks form.
3. Boil syrup to Soft ball stage(236° F.); meanwhile, add marshmallows or marshmallow cream to egg white.
4. SLOWLY add syrup to the egg whites, beating constantly, until all the syrup is in and the icing is thick and creamy. Add the vanilla and have at it.

Fudge Icing
2 Cups Sugar
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Squares (ounces by weight) of Chocolate (See Notes)
2/3 Cup Milk
Pinch of Salt (same as above)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Flavoring

1. Melt the Chocolate (See Notes, as usual)
2. Add the Sugar, Milk, Butter and Salt and mix WELL. This is going to be the LAST time you should stir this for a while.(See the notes about binding the chocolate, because when you go to add the milk, it will act like it's trying to bind up on you for a sec there. But follow the recipe, don't go off on a tangent like I'm prone to do. [As if you couldn't tell, right?])
3. Boil to the Soft Ball stage (236° F.)
4. Cool to slightly warmer than room temperature, do NOT stir this bugger yet. You are essentially making honest-to-goodness fudge here, and the key is to let it cool (in real fudge, to 130° F; with ours, it's to nearly room temerature, simply because it'll be a bit more pliable than real fudge.)
5. Once it has cooled, add the vanilla and beat the hell out of it until it's fluffy.

First thing is first: Candy stages. The best site I found when looking for a way to explain this was at the Accidental Scientist. I mean come on- they even have video. VIDEO!!!!

Man, oh man... the Marshmallow icing recipe reminded me about Divinity, the candy of the Gods. (Yes, I have a thing for over the top names. So sue me. Wait... don't. I don't have any real assets at this point, and although being sued is bad enough, bankruptcy would only make it worse. So yeah, don't sue me.)

Chocolate: Unsweetened, usually. But whatever. Feel free to experiment. Milk chocolate will make a creamier frosting, baking is a more Fudge-ie chocolate, etc.

Melting chocolate- There are various methods for doing this:
1. Traditionalists/purists will use a double boiler rig (don't spend the money on an actual double boiler set- just use a pot and a shallow metal bowl that has a larger diameter than the pot by at least a couple of inches.) to melt the chocolate; boil water in the pot, and place the chocolate in the bowl all alone. Keep stirring the chocolate and watch it melt into this incredible fluid that, well, it just looks damn sexy. I know not why. Quit judging me.
2. Shortcut artists will simply toss the chocolate (chips, or chopped other forms) into a microwave safe bowl and nuke it for as long as it takes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds. you can burn the chocolate EASILY if you aren't careful about the every 30 seconds thing and don't stir really well. That and the chocolate doesn't end up looking so dead sexy. But it works, I guess.
OH- if you accidentally bind some chocolate, yes, it's ruined for this recipe. But DO NOT TOSS IT- it isn't ruined overall. See, just add some more liquid (Not water. I mean, come on. As A.B. would say, if you're going to add something, make sure it brings something to the party.) and watch as, after there's enought blended in there, it loosens up and becomes melted chocolate again. If you use Heavy Cream, it becomes Ganache, which is the basis of a LOT of good stuff. Truffles, for one.
So don't toss your bound up chocolate; just make something tasty out of it. But don't try to use it in this recipe, since you've added liquid that won't play well in our finished product.

Final note: Try not to kill yourselves. These are from an era when people were made of sterner stuff, and didn't shovel entire cakes into their gullet at once. These are STRONG icings.
Especially the fudge. It will tempt you just like the candy: you will want to eat more, but at the same time, you will be secure in the knowledge that if you do so without your very own gallon of milk placed where your glass would normally sit, you will die a very sweet and tasty death.


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