Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sea of Marshmallows

Once you get to know me in person it becomes pretty clear that I have a major sweet tooth. I always have.
I blame my parents for it! When I was in elementary school, if I came home with a 100% on any tests they would give me a dollar to got to the candy store with. Okay, that doesn't seem like a lot in 2014, but in 1992, holy-moly I could make out like a bandit with a filled bag of confectionery crack! (And yes, I mean Smarties and Pixi Stix) 
But on occasions I would pass my normal addictions and go straight for the marshmallows! Now, the shop by us didn't make their own marshmallows, or if they did I don't remember it, but they always had chocolate dipped marshmallows or those freaking awesome marshmallow twist lollipops! YUMMY!
I think my love of everything sweet is why I chose to specialize in Baking and Pastry Arts in school. Great fun food, bright colors, and SO MUCH of pastry is art. And I am all about the artistic---"Jack of many arts" as I call myself.
With that said, as I was working my way up the chain of command, in the many kitchens and companies I worked for, I was exposed to a LOT of cool recipes, ideas, ways of thinking and just flat out cool things. Also, many of the places I lived had local shops that made their own taffy, pralines, chocolate, bon bon's and so on. It wasn't until about 5 years ago that I got the chance to really dive into my creativeness, since I was a newly promoted Pastry Chef! Yes, they actually trusted me with my own little pastry area and a team! Many what a blast! I had so many different things I wanted to do, but two of the highest priorities on my list was to make the perfect marshmallows and macarons. (And yes I want that spell macaron
with only 1 o because I am referring to the Parisian pillows of fluffiness! Look to your right!)
So, with those goals in mind I had my course. Imagine my surprise when I didn't get it perfect with the first recipe I used....... o_0  YEAH.....I ended up with a very loose blob of stickiness all over my marble table. My Exec Chef was trying not to laugh too loudly. Thanks for the support Levi! ;P But I didn't give up and I tried many different recipes and ended up creating my own from the mix--And I've been told repeatedly from guests that my marshmallows were the best they've had! Not to brag or anything (darn right I'll toot my own horn, I worked HARD to get this $h!T just right.) I'll spare you all the technical details, but I ended up breaking up 5 recipes into percentages of each ingredient and put together MY recipe, which I happily share with you.
Marshmallows by LH
20 sheets gelatin or 1 oz gelatin powder
Bloom in VERY cold water (add a little ice if using sheets) --If using sheets of gelatin, you don't need to measure your water amount, just have enough to cover the gelatin. If you are using the powder gelatin follow the bloom  instructions on the package
20 ½ ounces sugar
8 ½ ounces water
7 ¾ ounces honey
12 ¾ ounces glucose--or switch out for corn syrup
Place all ingredients in pot and cook to 248 degrees
Pull off the stove let cool to 215 degrees in your small mixing bowl
flavoring--you can use ALMOST any kind of flavoring or jam or even purred fruit as flavorings. I recommend using candy flavorings, which you can buy at any Michael's stores or cake&candy store or Sur La Table. They come in many different flavors and a little goes a long way!
Food color--powder colors give you strong pigments, but gel colors work best, and you can find liquid colors in the grocery store. Again, a little goes a long way
Mix gelatin into hot sugar mix until all dissolved
Put on the mixer and let whip till stiff-ish peaks form. (you can add in your coloring at this point)
Once done spread into a pan lined all the way up the edges with wax paper or plastic wrap dusted with marshmallow snow (50/50 mix of powder sugar and corn starch)
Level out (use pan spray on your spatula to keep the mix from sticking because it is one clingy-gooie mess of yumminess!) then sprinkle heavily with marshmallow snow
Now your creation is made, but don't get too excited. You need to let this now powdery concoction set and firm up, otherwise you'll never get it out of the plastic wrap.
In my shop we do this in two different ways. 1-we put the mix on a silpat lightly sprayed with pan spray and covered with M.snow and then put a rectangle or circular frame, also sprayed and dusted, before spreading out the hot mix. 2- we pipe it into flexi molds- molds made of food grade silicon- sprayed and dusted, and then let it set for a few hours and flip them out.

Back to your mix though. Once firm to the touch--like store bought marshmallows--flip the mix out onto a dusted cutting board and peel away plastic wrap or wax paper. It will be slightly sticky, and you might see little dots of the pan spray, that's okay. Next, take a big, clean pair of scissors and cut the mass into what ever size or shapes you want. You can also use a knife, but scissors are quicker for me. Or you could use cookie cutters!
 And there you have it! Don't get discouraged if it's not exact the first time, trust me, it takes practice. But man what fun -and sugar high- you'll have along the way. If you're feeling fancy you can cover your marshmallows with many different things: chocolate, sprinkles, colored sugar crystals, chocolate shavings, your options are only limited to what you can come up with. The marshmallows on your right have orange sugar (they are peach flavored) and the green (Key lime) have the corner dipped in chocolate than covered with chopped pieces of nuts. Literally, you can do hundreds of different things with these.

And now I'm done with this crazy long post, so if you have issues or questions contact me through this site, or leave me a comment! I'm happy to chat with anyone!
<3 always LH

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Where has 2014 gone?

Oh me, oh my lovelies! Where has 2014 gone? How is it July already?
This Friday is July 4th, and in addition to it this day being the birthday of my country the United States of America USA! USA! USA! it also marks the one year anniversary of my first publishing offer! I remember it so clearly, I was at a stop light in DuPont Circle, doing a bad thing of checking email while at a traffic light.....sorry....when I saw the email subject line.
I automatically pulled over, thank god for all the taxi parking areas in DC--wow never thought I'd say that one!--and I opened the email, expecting another rejection.
Hot damn was I ever wrong! Dr. Harper, owner of Omnific Publishing, had emailed me and offered me a contract for all 4 books of my Legendary series! OMG!!!!! I don't really remember much after that except calling my Momma and freaking my sh!t out. Then the celebratory dinner with three of my Lady Knights a few days later. Margaritas and Mexican food abound!
Since then..........WOW. Total whirl wind journey. Recap of this one year:
  1. I have had my debut novel published-->LEGENDARY.
  2. I've turned in book 2 of the series--> CLAIMING EXCALIBUR
  3. Am currently writing book 3 of the series like a mad woman
  4. Had my first ever book signing, at the RT convention 2014 no less 

  5. Started another YA project based on the Orion mythology--with a yummy dose of the Borgia family! (no this is not a historical!)
  6. I have made some amazing new friends: authors, bloggers, beta readers and fans! And of course my fantastical publicist Jenn--girl I love you <3
  7. I am currently in editing process of CLAIMING EXCALIBUR--Bev you are the best editor EVER!!
  8. I've cannon balled right into the deep end of social media and blogging. I even took on the daunting A to Z challenge and lived!
  9. AND I've even gotten to stretch my wings with my photography and graphic skills!
Now don't get me wrong, this hasn't been all rainbows and Disney sing alongs--although I have some amazing, life long friends who I KNOW would join my in less than a heart beat! But the fact is there has been so much more good, in my writing world, baking world, and my personal life that, upon reflection, makes the few annoyances and bumps feel like nothing!
In the spirit of continuing my amazing literary journey I have started two new social media projects:
  1. My ATO- Author Takeover-Every Tuesday a fellow YA/NA/MG authors is going to take over my author website and tell us all about their books and themselves. Several will have giveaways, some will have special extras and Easter egg content and ALL will feature great books of all different genre's and sub genre's. Today--July 1, 2014-- is week 2 and is showing off one of my critique partners: Brenda Hiatt
  2. This blog is going to see a bit of a makeover and will feature more posts about my world outside of writing. Don't get me wrong, there will still be plenty of book and King Arthur fun, but I'm also going to start sharing things from my other life as a Pastry Chef. Benefit of running one of the largest hotel bakeshops in DC is I get A LOT of time to play and experiment. 
Really what could be better? So keep on rolling 2014, keep on rolling! I will be forever grateful and eager to see what challenges and fun you bring next!
AND LETS GO USA!!!! I believe that we can win! I BELIEVE that we can win! I BELIEVE THAT WE CAN WIN!
But win or lose- the US men's soccer team should be damn proud of all that they have accomplished and shown the world! And yes, my eye makeup is Red, White, Blue and all kinds of spangly! Glad I have an Exec Chef who lets me get away with it :)
Later lovelies!
<3 always LH