Tuesday, August 13, 2013

S'mores! But even MORE than just s'mores...

Several weeks ago, after we'd brewed the beer, we were left with a giant mush pot of barley and assorted grains.

We do not like to waste food items around here. James mentioned that he and his brother had tried to make an oatmeal-type breakfast out of it before, and that it tasted really bad. I decided to dry it out first and see what might happen.

It spent about a day in a 170-degree oven and the dried stuff actually tasted not bad at all. It was mildly sweet and very crunchy because the barley still has some hulls.

I decided to make two things: 1) granola bars (that turned out to be a disaster because of user error, but would have been lovely had I followed the recipe here correctly.) 2) and barley "flour."

At first, I wasn't certain what to do with the barley, but after a couple of days, it hit me: homemade s'mores. But instead of graham flour, I'd use this. I couldn't do it immediately, because to attempt such a thing when Daphne was gone seemed very wrong.

Thankfully (on many levels), she came back last week, and once we got through the bottling drama of the weekend, yesterday seemed like a great day to attempt this project!

First, I used Alton Brown's graham cracker recipe, but really only as a guide. For instance: I didn't use graham flour, I used milled brewer's barley et al.; I don't have a food scale (anymore: battery acid got one of the nodes), so I measured in cups and teaspoons and eyeballs; I was concerned that I didn't have enough brown sugar, so I supplemented with dark chocolate chunks. All of this makes sense, right? My point is: "If it feels right, do it" is horrible life advice, and it's an often disastrous cooking tip, but in this case... it happened to turn out okay. Try it sometime.

Dry stuff before processing.

Dry stuff after processing.

After adding butter.

After buttermilk, molasses, and vanilla. Look at those beautiful chunks!
At this point, the dough had to be refrigerated for at least half an hour, so Daphne and I went to work on the marshmallows. Yes, that's right. We made those, too. Yes, I know that you can buy them at Wal-Mart. But I can guarantee they're not this tasty, or this much fun. It's science!

Hey, guess what? We also use Alton Brown's marshmallow recipe. I've never had it fail on me!

Three packets of gelatin dissolved in a bit of water.

Boil the sugar slurry until it hits 240 degrees.

Meanwhile, Daphne prepares a sprayed pan with an equal mixture of corn starch and powdered sugar.
Once the syrup hits 240, it's time to add it to the gelatin. Slowly.

Verrrrry slowly.
 Next, you whip the mixture for a very. long. time. 12-15 minutes, as a matter of fact.

It's already gaining volume!

Still growing!
 Toward the end, your mixer will be whining in protest. That's how you know it's done!

It's tempting just to eat it now.
Finally, you pour the mixture into a prepared pan and then cover it with the same sugar/cornstarch mixture and let it sit overnight to dry.

Then, of course, there is this.
 After the ceremonial licking of the bowl, we moved back to the process of cracker-making.
Put the dough between two sheets of parchment.

Roll it out and put it on a cooking sheet.
You need to cut the crackers before they bake. Also, fork holes allow the steam to escape without causing the crackers to rise.

The finished product, darker and more textured than Alton's, but looking just as charmingly rustic.
This afternoon, D and I cut the marshmallows. We knew that we wanted to use them mostly for s'mores, so we cut them pretty big. I don't know whether you looked at the instructions for making mini marshmallows, but that whole deal with piping sounds very labor-intensive. (If that made you laugh, then you can just go read another blog.)
The dried slab.
After cutting, you coat the marshmallows in the sugar/cornstarch mixture to keep them from sticking to each other. Like this:

Okay, okay, okay... Here's the SERIOUS FOOD PORN!

After dinner, we made s'mores. We just toasted them, open-faced, in the toaster oven, then opened OUR faces and shoved them in! SO delicious. Worth every minute that went into making them! (Plus, it was just fun.)

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