If you've never been to San Francisco on July 4th, let me break it down for you: It's freaking depressing. Cold, windy, and so foggy that we've never even bothered to go see fireworks in the 4 1/2 years we've lived here. But from the warm cocoon of our living room, they sound awfully festive! At any rate, the wintry conditions don't hold me back from making treats suitable for the holiday, adding the perfect note to an afternoon spent grilling in an overcoat.
At first glance, these Kool-Aid Marshmallows might seem too bizarre to be a real thing. Believe me, I get it. And I wrote the recipe. But really, what we're doing here is adding flavor to the mallows with the powdered drink mix, rather then just throwing in an extract or candy oil in the final steps of whipping. And the color is provided in powder, too, so no extra food coloring is needed to achieve a perfect candylike hue--hooray!.
While you can use any flavor of unsweetened Kool-Aid mix for these, the specimens you see in the photo above were made with Tropical Punch mix, which is one of my very favorite flavors for Kool-Aid Marshmallows. (Can you believe that I've experimented with this enough to have a favorite flavor This is my life, friends.) With all of their awesome fruit punchy-ness, they're everything a marshmallow should be--fluffy, fun, full of Candy Land-esque novelty flavor. And as long as I'm on my way to Crazytown by flavoring a marshmallow with Kool-Aid, I tend to just go for it, take the scenic route, and roll the edges in Pop Rocks, which crackle delightfully upon serving. It's all so hysterically whimisical, it almost makes you forget that you're spending July 4th in long johns.
I'm going to give you the recipe for these gems below, but I also thought I'd give you a few more ideas for goodies for the 4th, suitable for summer get-togethers and picnics of all sorts. Enjoy!
Eton Mess, American-Style. My pick for my last dessert on Earth. Not to be morbid, but I mean, it's really that spectacular.
Blueberry Cobbler with Gingered Biscuits. All-American, with a fancy-schmancy gourmet twist.
(Gluten-Free!) Rocky Road Rice Krispie Treats. The perfect chocolaty treat, without all the melting and what and not.
Blizzard Bars. The colors alone will evoke lots of oohs and ahhs. And who could argue with cramming, like, 20 candy bars into an 8x8-inch square pan?
Triple Berry Danish Cheesecake. One of my favorite dishes of all time. It's a cloudlike take on cheesecake, packed with lots of summer berries. Drool.
Cherry Shortbread Cake Squares. A recipe from my childhood, and the perfect picnic dessert. Love.
Chocolate Chip Marble Bundt Cake. Stupid delicious. Nothing more to say.
Blonde Rocky Road. Prepare to get love letters after you serve these.
Monster Cookies. A great make-ahead cookie. The dough needs a good rest in the fridge for optimal texture, and ooh-whee, is it ever worth it.
Next-Level Chocolate Chip Cookies. Chocolate chip cookies, with a little extra (totally legal!) something. The classic, made super special. Because this is America.
Kool-Aid Marshmallows From Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes Makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch square mallows
Just about any flavor of unsweetened Kool-Aid drink mix works here, so let your imagination run wild (my favorites are Tropical Punch or Blue Raspberry). I love adding an extra bit of kid-like crazy by sprinkling the edges with Pop Rocks. Prepare to have your tongue turn into a rainbow with these.
To make my Classic Coating, just whisk together 1 1/2 parts confectioners' sugar with 1 part cornstarch. Make extra, because you can use it with any flavor of marshmallow, and it keeps forever in an airtight container. The Bloom: 1 (.16-ounce) packet unsweetened Kool-Aid drink mix, any flavor 1/2 cup cold water 5 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
The Syrup: 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1/4 cup water 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
The Mallowing: 1/2 cup Classic Coating (see headnote), plus more for dusting Pop Rocks, for sprinkling
Lightly spray an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and use a paper towel to wipe away any excess.
The Bloom: Whisk together the Kool-Aid mix, cold water and gelatin in a small bowl and let the gelatin soften for at least 5 minutes.
The Syrup: Stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1/4 cup water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil over high heat and clip a candy thermometer onto the pan. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave the gelatin on high until it is completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour it into the corn syrup. Set the mixer to low, and keep the mixer running while you check the sugar syrup.
The Mallowing: Once the syrup reaches 240°F, remove it from the heat. Keeping the mixer on low, slowly pour the syrup into the gelatin mixture in a steady stream, aiming for the space between the beater and the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more. The finished marshmallow will be roughly tripled in volume. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to nudge it into the corners and smooth the top. Sift coating evenly and generously over the top. Let set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.
When the marshmallow has set, use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the marshmallow slab onto a coating-dusted work surface, dust it with more coating, and cut into desired shapes. Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in Pop Rocks or more coating, patting off the excess.