Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday July 28, 2012
Earlier in the year I attended the Indiana Artisan marketplace in Indianapolis. While we were strolling through the isles of goodies, pottery, woodwork and the like, I struck up a conversation with Samantha Aulick, one of the women behind 240Sweet Artisan Marshmallows. She noticed that I had my boys in tow and suggested that I bring them down when we got out of school for a marshmallow making class. My kids’ ears perked up and when we got home I caught my youngest on their website browsing through their lengthy list of puffed confections.
|Photos courtesy of Angela Jackson Photography|
My interest was piqued. I had consumed many of their sweet treats in the years since they started selling them online and at local markets. What was once just a catering company has now exploded into a full on retail establishment that offers classes and demonstrations on how to make your own puffs at home.
Chef Alexa is the mastermind behind the many flavors and options, which include tame choices like Hoosier Strawberry, Roasted Coconut, Salted Carmel, Chocolate Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Chip Coconut. There are also some unique flavors that they offer like Draft Beer, Chicken, Mojito, Champagne, Bacon Chocolate Chip, Carrot and Gingersnaps, Vanilla Lavender and one of her favorites, the Thai Chili. Each month the Chef adds a few seasonal options, including Turkey and Sage Dressing in November an Super Crunch in February
These fluffy square pillows can be incorporated into recipes for the home cook as well. We like ours lightly toasted or better yet floating atop of a mug of steaming hot drinking chocolate, which they make and sell here as well
“It’s $6.00 for three marshmallows. But it’s $6.00 for local food. It’s $6.00 for a fair wage. It’s $6.00 in the community. We use all made in America packaging, it’s $6.00 for that. Those things do cost more, but you get what you pay for.” says Samantha Aulick.
They craft their treats in small batches with local, all natural and organic ingredients. First, they look for local foods to flavor the marshmallows. If they can’t find items locally, then they make sure to use organic. Their gourmet puffs do not use any preservatives, stabilizers, artificial colors or flavors. 240Sweet treats include Michigan beet sugar, Ohio glucose and Indiana corn starch. They even use organic Tahitian beans to make their own vanilla extract.
Just like that Chef Alexa made a tray that just needed to set, be cut and wrapped. Once that was done we gathered in the store to learn how to cut our own vanilla flavored marshmallows using cookie cutters. We learned that you must dust the freshly cut puffs in a powder to prevent them from sticking. My kids were easily able to do this themselves. They made their names and funny shapes. After that they packaged them up for the drive home complete with a signature purple ribbon and label.
We had a great time that day and my kids loved making something that they could eat, take home or give away. This experience was one that they will remember and also one that I think is important when fostering idea that kids can be helpful in the kitchen. This was no ordinary cooking class. Marshmallow love has burst onto the food scene like cake balls and cupcakes. Cornering the market with good reason, Chef Alexa and her partner Samantha have many years of success ahead of them. They are catching the eye of food television outlets and food writers alike and changing minds along with it, one square puff at a time.
At a recent demonstration, Chef Alexa wowed the crowd with her Maple, Bacon & Toffee popcorn balls. You can use any flavor for this fun recipe. The fun part of making them is using your favorite puffs. You can also roll balls in mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, coconut or anything that strikes your fancy. They like smaller popcorn balls that can be enjoyed in a couple of bites. This recipe makes about sixteen balls.
Thank you to Angela Jackson Photography of Columbus, Indiana for the excellent shots!!
Coat bottom of 4 quart or larger saucepan with vegetable oil. Heat over high heat until hot. Add popcorn. Keep in constant moving until all popcorn is popped. Remove from heat.
In medium saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Add marshmallows. Stir constantly until melted. Remove from heat.
Immediately add popcorn and mix well with wooden spoon. Quickly put on food-safe gloves and coat them with softened butter. Shape popcorn mix into palm-sized balls and sprinkle with sea salt. Place individual balls on waxed paper until cooled.
For storage or gifting, wrap in clear plastic wrap and tie with ribbon.