October 23, 2010

Lavender-Vanilla Marshmallows, Cardamom-Lavender Ganache and Hot Chocolate

I love lavender, the scent and color but I have to admit I have had no experience cooking with lavender. So when I found out lavender is October's theme of International Incident Party I was stumped. When I asked my husband for ideas, he jokingly told me to make soap so needless to say I am on my own here.
Last minute inspiration came from my pantry, a jar of vanilla sugar staring right at me. You see, every time I use vanilla, I save the vanilla pods and put it in a jar filled with sugar. So I took some of the vanilla sugar and added some lavender buds in there. I let it "marinate" a few days but I'm sure my lavender-vanilla sugar is not enough for this party. So just made simple marshmallows with them.

Lavender-Vanilla Sugar

2 cups sugar
1 pod vanilla
1 tsp. lavender buds

Place sugar in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Split vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a paring knife. Add the vanilla "caviar" and lavender to the sugar and stir to combine. Place the vanilla pod in as well. Let the sugar steep for several days before using. The longer it "marinates", the more scent is absorbed by the sugar. (Alternatively, add sugar, vanilla and lavender in a food proccessor and pulse until incorporated. Transfer into a glass jar. Add the vanilla pod, close jar and let it steep at least several days before using.)

Lavender-Vanilla Marshmallows

3 TBSP unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes of Knox brand)
3/4 cup water, divided
2 cups lavender-vanilla sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Grease a 9- X 13-inch glass pan and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, pour 1/2 cup water and sprinkle gelatin. Let gelatin bloom, at least 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup water, sugar, salt and corn syrup and bring to a boil in high heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.

Once boiling, lower heat and put in a candy thermometer. Let sugar syrup boil until it reaches 250 degrees F, this will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Turn your mixer on low and drizzle in the sugar syrup. Turn up the speed a little at a time, being careful not to splatter the hot syrup. Once syrup begins to foam and/or turn white, you may turn to highest speed. Let it whip about 8 to 10 minutes, or until you notice volume stopped increasing.

Add vanilla and stir it in for a minute. Pour out into the prepared pan. Flatten with an oiled spatula or hand (be careful, it will still be quite hot). Let it set at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Sift more confectioners' sugar and turn it out into a cutting board and cut into desired shapes.

It's been raining for a couple of weeks and that means hot chocolate in our house. And of course, my boys would always ask for marshmallows when hot chocolate is involved. The added lavender to our usual vanilla marshmallows gave them a woodsy scent, almost like rosemary. The heat from the hot chocolate accented this scent further. But I should say that lavender was missed on my boys, even my husband. They were just happy to be sipping hot chocolate with cute marshmallows to keep them warm. :)
I thought I was finished with this lavender project until I saw the beautiful picture of Lavender-Honey-Cardamom-Lemon-Dark Chocolate Tart by Desserts for Breakfast this week. Then I read more about the combination of lavender with cardamom in Meeta's Flan at What's for Lunch, Honey? which was intriguing so decided to whip up some Cardamom-Lavender Ganache to go with the Marshmallows. Cardamom and lavender were not ones I would thought of combining, but they go so well together.  I made marshmallow buttons and filled the cut-out centers with the ganache.

Cardamom-Lavender Ganache

8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. lavender buds
2 pods cardamom

Place chocolate in a medium, heat-proof bowl. Set aside.

In a small pot, heat cream, lavender and cardamom over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove pot from heat immediately. Strain cream through a strainer, pouring over the chocolate. Tap bowl slightly on counter so cream settles all the way to bottom of bowl. Let it sit for a minute undisturbed.

Using a rubber spatula, incorporate the cream into the chocolate until it is completely dissolved. It will thicken as it cool. Pour into the marshmallow cut-outs or as desired.

Cardamom-Lavender Hot Chocolate

4 cups whole milk
4 TBSP finely chopped semisweet chocolate
2 TBSP cocoa powder
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp. lavender buds (optional)
1 pod, cardamom, slightly crushed (optional)

In a medium pan, bring all into a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently to melt the chocolate. Do NOT let it boil. Pour into mugs (strain if using lavender and cardamom) and top with marshmallows.
Please head on over and click below to see what the others have created with lavender.


Mardi Michels said...

Oh I *love* your idea and those homemade marshmallows look amazing.... yum!

A cupcake or two said...

Gorgeous marshmallows Caroline. I love the shapes. This would be a hit with the little ones.

penny aka jeroxie said...

I did not think of lavender and cardamon as a combo as well? Interesting. And I just love those cut outs! Stunning.

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

I would like to try one of those soft and lavendery marshmallows... :D

Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz said...

That is so creative, practical and adorable. Great job!

The Food Librarian said...

These are sooo beautiful! I just made a lavender bundt! Lavender is so pretty and lovely. - mary

Unknown said...

I love love the thought of putting lavender in the sugar. The marshmellows are adorable.

Duffy said...

These look so pretty! I love chocolate and I love chocolate with anything in it (cinnamon, spice, hazelnut, chilli) so I'm sure the addition of lavender would be lovely as well! Great dish!

Anonymous said...

Wow, homemade lavender-vanilla marshmallows. You put me to shame for taking the easy route! Well done, Carol! A hit with the little and big kids for sure!

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Oh!! Absolutely loving the lavender marshmallows! They look so pretty.

msihua said...

It looks so pretty! I like the marshmallow idea! Brilliant!

Unknown said...

I've always wanted to make my own marshmallows, and now you've gone ahead and shown us how to make these superb lavender-flavored ones!

Judy @ Foodie Dreams said...

I love the cute shapes of your marshmallow buttons! I'll have to try cardamom & lavender next time...

Jun Belen said...

Today is definitely a hot chocolate kind of day and your lavender marshmallows are absolutely perfect! Like you, I've never cooked and baked with lavender before. I think I may just have to try. Thanks for the inspiration, Carol!

Anonymous said...

Marshmallows with the heart shaped hollow to house the ganache. What beautiful treats!

skip to malou said...

HI Carol,
I HEART this post so much... it's full of love, and so Carol-usque. Thanks for being there for me... It's been awhile, and Im trying to get into the "blog" mode all over again. See you soon!

Anonymous said...

The little shapes are so cute! After making some marshmallows myself a few years ago, I have some serious respect for your ability to cut the sticky goo into flowers.
I also read those two posts about lavender and cardamom with dark chocolate... it sounds great, especially in marshmallow buttons.

Anonymous said...

I made marshmallows over the summer. I never thought to infuse them. There are a must do for me!

Cherrie Pie said...

I love all of it! .., the marshmallow, the ganache and hot chocoalte. wished I lived close by so I can just pop by and have your delicious goodies

marla@familyfreshcooking.com said...

Such a pretty post. Bet these lavender infused marshmallows are a true treat. Great idea to fill with with ganache!


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