Friday, February 12, 2010
Pass The Love
When I was a little girl I loved Valentine's Day. In elementary school we were assigned the project of making a valentine holder, either a shoe box with a slot in top, or a large paper pocket. These were decorated with tissue paper, paper doilies, and stickers, transforming them into works of art worthy of a home in the Louvre.
On Valentine's Day we brought our decorated valentine holders to school, along with a stack of valentine's to give. The teachers required that you give one to every student. That way Little Miss Popularity wouldn't receive a truckload and the unfortunate social outcast wouldn't go home with a broken heart and an empty box. This rule was also a way to insure that the boys gave valentines. Left to their own devices, the boys would punch each other on the arm and maybe daringly give a card to their favorite girl with a romantic theme of boogers and spiders.
One of the most popular decorating motifs for the valentine cards was the conversation heart. Those little candy hearts with printed sayings that taste like ant-acids were glued onto the paper doilies (Elmer's glue is edible, right?). I'm sure Mrs. Armstrong stood over little Bobby the night before, forcing him to make the valentine cards, and zero thought went into who got what card. But, oh what speculation there was the next day when a girl got a card with a heart bearing the message "QT PIE" or "MAYBE TONIGHT." "Wow, he must really like me!" her heart fluttered!
This year for Valentine's Day I got an early present from the nice people at POM Wonderful. (Thank you!) They sent me some of their heart-healthy POM Wonderful Pomegranate juice. I know they've spent oodles of money on researching proving the health benefits of their juice, but I just like it because it's delicious. And being sent some gave me an opportunity to play with my food. I've had marshmallows on my mind for a while and the thought of pomegranate marshmallows made me giddy with glee. But then I thought about using them to make rice crispy treats. And then cut them into hearts. And, of course, the idea of giant rice crispy conversation hearts wasn't far behind.
I adjusted the rice crispy treat recipe for the marshmallow recipe, and stirred in the butter and cereal as soon as the marshmallows were done. I'm not sure this is the best way to make them. On reflection, and lots of sampling, my husband and I decided the cereal wasn't as crisp as it should be. Perhaps the drying out period for the marshmallows was important to keep the cereal crisp. Either way, I'll give you the recipe as I made it, then you can decide to go with the traditional method, or the done-in-one way.
Happy Valentine's Day! Oh, and I don't recommend gluing these to anything. Just wrap in plastic wrap and hand them to your friends. And, please, don't leave out the dumpy girl in the corner; she'd be sad.
POMarshmallow Rice Crispy Treats
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup POM Wonderful Pomegranate juice, divided
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
6-1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
10 cups Crispy Rice Cereal
Small amount of buttercream frosting, tinted pink
1- Generously butter a cookie sheet.
2 - Combine the gelatin with 1/2 cup of the POM Wonderful juice in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Allow this to sit and dissolve while you make the syrup.
3- In a small saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup of the POM Wonderful juice. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.
4 - Withe the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.
5- Stir in the melted butter. When it's incorporated, stir in the cereal by hand, using a spatula or wooden spoon. When all of the cereal is coated by the marshmallow, turn the mixture out onto the cookie sheet. Using a buttered spatula or buttered hands, press the mixture down firmly to make an even layer. Let it cool and set for several hours or overnight.
6- Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out the treats, spacing as closely together as possible. Set the hearts aside. Find a willing helper to clean up the leftover bits.
7- Using a pastry bag fitted with a very small tip, pipe the frosting around the hearts and then pipe messages onto the hearts. Allow to dry and then wrap in plastic wrap and put a pretty ribbon around it.