Marshmallows are usually thought of as light, puffy lumps of vanilla flavored sugar that are used to make ’smores, top off a cup of hot chocolate, or dress up sweet potatoes. If that’s your perception, then you had better get ready to meet the new generation of marshmallows that are finding their way onto the menus at fine dining restaurants around the country. There are also artisanal marshmallows being offered to the public with a wide array of flavors and uses. Take a look at some of the most interesting marshmallow mash-ups.
Longman and Eagle in Chicago takes the classic combination of beef and horseradish and switches it up by serving a beef tongue with a horseradish marshmallow. Chef Jared Wentworth tells Time Out Chicago that he prepares the marshmallow with sugar instead of glucose syrup to make the end product less saccharine, and that the savory marshmallow “Might sound kind of ridiculous … [but] it eats really well.”
Saxon and Parole, a new addition to the haute farm-to-table scene in New York, features a savory chili marshmallow in its Southeast Asian-inspired carrot and cardamom soup. The aromatic soup, made with spicy ginger and creamy coconut milk as well as fragrant cardamom, gets a kick of both heat and sweet as the marshmallow melts into it. Complex and unexpected, it is a marshmallow experience unlike any you have ever had.
Chicago’s Graham Elliot, a restaurant long known for its quirky and whimsical cooking style, was perhaps the pioneer of the savory marshmallow movement. The restaurant, named for its chef, has featured several variations of flavored marshmallows on its menu, including a savory mint marshmallow in a pea-and-pink peppercorn bisque. The latest offering is a spicy cinnamon marshmallow in a savory pumpkin bisque.
Artisanal marshmallows aren’t anything new, but how about marshmallows you can custom-order in flavors like prickly pear, star anise or white wine? Baltimore-based company Blasted Marshmallows offers a variety of savory marshmallows by special order, including Red Stripe beer, Thai chili, and garlic. Imagine a steaming bowl of bison chili served with a beer marshmallow topper, or a bowl of Vietnamese pho topped with a pungent garlic marshmallow. The only limitations are your imagination and appetite.
Montclair, N.J., restaurant, Adara, focuses on molecular gastronomy and unique ways to use flavors, including putting an avocado marshmallow in a salad with nasturtium (a type of watercress) and hearts of palm. Marshmallows in a salad – finally, a candy that can be considered health food.
The Girl and the Goat, the critically acclaimed restaurant run by “Top Chef” alum and winner Stephanie Izard, features perhaps the most audacious savory marshmallow – a foie gras marshmallow served with a dense chocolate bouchon as a dessert. Pastry chef Amanda Rafalski says that “mixing foie with the marshmallow was ‘a leap of faith.” The foie is said to add a richness to the marshmallow that works with the equally rich chocolate bouchon it tops.
All in all, there is a lot food experimentation going on in some of the top culinary spots around the country, and some of them are trying to bring the lowly marshmallow into a new century and please the palates of diners along the way.