What Food Does Food Babe Wish Existed?

Hint: The Easter Bunny Would Approve This Good Business Idea.

Make this organic candy for Food Babe
The Stuff of Food Babe's Dreams. Vani Hari / Susie Wyshak

Vani Hari, more commonly known as Food Babe, has mobilized millions of people (the "Food Babe Army") to demand Big Food companies reveal their ingredients and sourcing choices with the end goal of creating transparency and eventually positive change.

I recently reached out to hear exactly what healthful snacks she does love in a world fraught with bad food options. Among other highly inventive natural goodies, she's a friend for Golden Berries, a Sour-Patch-Kids-like ground cherry that’s native to South America.

But the big, juicy question came last.

"Is There Any Food You Wish Existed?"

Her answer shows just why we can't quit our favorite comfort food: Good marshmallows. Organic fluffy, good ole’ fashioned marshmallows. Like the kind we loved as kids, only organic.

There must be tons of options out there, I thought. The boy was I wrong. Despite the hundreds of confections entries, we receive every year at the Good Food Awards, nary an organic marshmallow was found.

The Hunt For Organic Marshmallows

Confectioners like Theo in Seattle utilize organic marshmallows in what they call "Big Daddy Marshmallow”. It’s a whopper of a sweet treat: a layer of handmade graham cracker topped with caramel that boasts a big organic marshmallow in the center of the chocolate-covered bar. While no one can deny the lure of the Big Daddy Marshmallow (I’ll take ten, please), I kept searching for that albatross of a naked, organic marshmallow.

In a world where so many parents and eaters are motivated to purchase food and candy with GMO-free, organic ingredients, why has the marshmallow lagged in its organic progress? Like most other "bad foods," it comes down to cost and availability of natural ingredients alternatives. But mostly cost.

Whole Foods and other specialty stores stock plenty of "artisan" or "handcrafted" marshmallows, and some Kosher, but none that combine dreamy with organic.

Some are made entirely with organic ingredients or boast a handful of organic ingredients, but still use conventional gelatins like Knox.

Whimsy & Spice is a long-time Etsy seller and beloved maker of marshmallows. The Brooklyn-based team offers one explanation for their ingredients choices, "The cost certainly is a factor, but [all organic] is also not something that we get many requests for."

Good News for Marshmallow Lovers

Michele's Marshmallows on Etsy is waiting to satisfy the organic marshmallow lover's  craving. Michele makes a variety of organic flavors made with organic and sustainable ingredients in her Texas kitchen.

Here's a DIY organic, non-GMO marshmallow recipe, great for home or candy businesses.

The world needs more organic marshmallows that are delicious and free from artificial flavors, GMO corn syrup, and other bad stuff.

This is my favorite fluffy homemade marshmallow recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine which I've adapted to use GMO-free sugar cane syrup or organic brown rice syrup (which might give the marshmallows a pretty off-white tint).

The marshmallows are like perfect little clouds to drop into cocoa, sandwich in stores, cut out in shapes, roll in toasted coconut or dip in chocolate.

 

Prefer marshmallows without eggs? The chewier marshmallows you buy usually are not made with eggs. While the marshmallow process heats the eggs enough to remove food safety worries, of course, eggless marshmallows are vegan and give you one less thing to worry about.

Here are many more marshmallow recipes and ideas for mixing in other flavors, which don't use eggs. Substitute in cane sugar syrup, or try organic brown rice syrup, for the corn syrup to keep the natural / organic quality.

Ingredients

  • about 1 cup organic confectioners' sugar
  • 3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored grass fed beef gelatin*
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar syrup or organic brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup hot water (about 115°F.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large organic egg whites or egg white powder
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla (like LAFAZA, Nielsen-Massey or Madecasse)

*Available online or at natural food stores. Lots of other fun candy recipes using gelatin, which is Kosher.

Key Equipment

Have a mixer, 2 large bowls and a candy thermometer on hand, which is essential to marshmallow success. See below for additional equipment.

Preparation

Oil the bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners' sugar. If you don't have this sized pan, that's fine as you will be using this to spread the marshmallow. If you're cutting out marshmallow shapes you may wish to use a wider more shallow pan.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl, if you're using a hand mixer, sprinkle gelatin over cold water. Let stand to soften and dissolve.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook your granulated sugar and cane sugar syrup (or brown rice syrup), hot water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved.

Increase heat to medium and boil the mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F., about 12 minutes. It is important to not stir.

Remove pan from heat. Pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin is dissolved.

Beat the Cooked Sugar Mixture

With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using a standing mixer, or about 10 minutes if using a hand-held mixer. At this point, you will have marshmallow fluff. You can stop here if that's all you want!

Want to flavor your marshmallows? Stop in the middle of beating to add a couple drops of peppermint oil, a bit of cocoa powder, ground coffee or whatever flavor inclusion you might dream up.

Beat the Eggs (In a Different Bowl)

In a large bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites, or reconstituted powdered whites, until they  hold stiff peaks. Pour whites and vanilla into sugar mixture and beat until just combined.

Finish Your Marshmallows

Pour mixture into baking pan and sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top.

Chill the marshmallow, uncovered, to firm them, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large, very clean cutting board. Lifting up 1 corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and let drop onto cutting board.

Cutting the marshmallows: With a large knife cut the ragged edges off the marshmallow. Cut marshmallow into 1-inch cubes, or larger. OR use cookie cutters to cut out whatever shapes you like.

See how to coat and store your marshmallows.

If you want plain vanilla marshmallows, sift the remaining confectioners' sugar into a large bowl or the container in which you will store them.

To coat the marshmallows with fine shredded organic coconut or organic cocoa powder: Put whatever you would like to coat the marshmallows in a bowl. Add the marshmallows in small batches and roll them around to coat.

My favorite way to coat marshmallows in chocolate: Use a good couverture chocolate such as from Guittard, Ghirardelli or Callebaut. Trader Joe's Pound Plus bars are great as well. Either mix coconut or other crumble into the chocolate. Or dip the marshmallows then roll them in coconut, chopped nuts, or another coating.

Storage: Marshmallows will keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week. At that point, they may start sort of melting or looking wet. When coated with chocolate they last longer.

See the full organic marshmallows recipe or how Food Babe inspired this recipe.