What is "From Scratch?"

When it comes to cooking, it's all about creating. Before you can eat, you must compose. As grocers, corporations, celebrities, and Chefs make more and more food "convenient" ultimately, their taking away your ability to trust your own palate and creativity, and replacing those senses with nothing more than assembly line instructions. A package of this, and a bottle of that, isn't what stirs up memories of your grandmother, and doesn't make you beam with pride when you pull your creations from the oven. I prefer to have flour from head to toe, a rigged apartment smoke alarm, and to feel the excitement of knowing that I am self sustainable, creative and spent an afternoon (into the evening) to make something I thought you could only buy.

The purpose of this blog isn't to give recipes that will feed a family of 4, in ten minutes, on a Wednesday. There is plenty of that already. This blog is about reclaiming our heirloom recipes, learning how to avoid the bar code when shopping, and ultimately, it's about cherishing the hours we spend at the stove, not trying to condense them.

By your self, with your friends, your kids and loved ones, I encourage you to take a look at what we can create to nourish, entertain, and gift....From Scratch.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I thought Marshmallows would be the perfect jumping off point for From Scratch. To me, the marshmallow is a memory trigger for childhood summers spent at Girls Camp, eating S'mores. When I see the tiny ones, I always think of making rice krispies with my Mom, and she would let me lick all the melted marshmallow fluff off the spoon. This whimsical puff can build grown up memories too, when made with love and attention,and real ingredients. This once over processed, chemical filled sponge, can become a sweet snack, flavored for any occasion. I went classic, making vanilla scented sweets, but tried a variety of shapes when it came to cutting them. Making these, I felt a major scene of accomplishment when I was snacking on the results.  I realized that even though they were so sugar coated, somehow they still tasted wholesome. I recognized it a candy on my lips, but they had a toothsome quality of real cooked sugar, not the false, slightly fizzy texture of store bought marshmallows.
But I don't want to sugar coat it for you,
So here is your fair warning.....
It was MESSY! Like sticky, gooey, chewed up gum on your sneaker messy. But honestly, nothing some hot soapy water didn't fix. And if you adhere to my strict  "everything lightly oiled" method as described below, your in for some sweet stuff. I encourage all of you to make a batch, get them on skewers and fire up the grill. And yes, Graham cracker recipe, coming soon...
 Marshmallows, From Scratch
2/3 cup water, divided
3 (1/4 oz.) envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup organic corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, for dusting

Our supplies...

Using a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil, grease the insides of an 8x8 baking dish. Coat with powdered sugar, and set aside.
Pour 1/3 cup of the water into the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over the water, and let sit for 10 minutes, until the gelatin has softened and bloomed.
While the gelatin is blooming, use a medium sauce pan to combine sugar, corn syrup, and remaining water. Stir to combine and place over medium heat. Cook with out stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees.

Getting warmer...

Keeping a small pastry brush in a little cup of water nearby will be useful for brushing down the sides of the pot, keeping the crystals on the sides from burning.

Letting the mixer do the work..

 Once your mixture has reached the proper temperature, turn your mixer on low and slowly stream your sugar into the gelatin. Once you have incorporated all the sugar turn the mixer to medium-high and let beat for 8-13 minutes until the mixture is white, fluffy and VERY sticky.

 Now...This is the part where you need to work fast and be prepared with all the tools, or your going to end up like me and look like Stay-puff attacked your kitchen.

Me, mid-mess. Please follow the "everything lightly oiled" rule!
Have a shallow bowl of vegetable oil sitting close by. Anything that is going to touch that mixture (hands, spatula) needs to be lightly dipped in oil first, and this should give you trouble free results.
So, using that lightly oiled spatula, scrape the mixture into the pan, and using those lightly oiled hands, press into a uniform flatness. Set aside, and let set and cool for a half hour or so.

Made it to the pan...Whew!

Generously dust your counter top with powdered sugar, and invert the pan onto your prepared surface. You may have to use a small (oiled!) spatula to help you remove the block from the pan.

Out of the pan, ready to be shaped

Now, using a small sharp knife, cookie cutters, and a ruler, go to town! Make any shape, or size you want.

To make the standard tube shape, cut the marshmallows into 1 inch strips, and roll with your hands before cutting into pieces. The treats will keep, up to a week in a zip top bag with extra powdered sugar tossed in. Enjoy!
All the shapes, including minis!

Just so you know: 
You will have some trim left over, just as you would with sugar cookies. Because this recipe calls for hot liquid sugar and lots of sticky mess, it's best to send the little ones out to play, and have them return to help make rice krispies from these pieces. 

The majority of From Scratch is my original recipes, but when it comes to baking and candy making, I know to leave well enough alone. The quantity's and temperatures in this recipe have been adapted from "Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it" by Karen Solomon.
Made with lots of love


  1. WILL DO! Jess, I love this and love what you're doing with this! You have your number one fan right here!

  2. Jessica, I love this blog and the idea behind it! I'm adding to my google reader and can't wait to see more. Love you!!

  3. Looks so yummy! Thanks for inviting me to read your blog :) Adding it to my list as well.

  4. So happy I found this blog! Who knew you could make all these things from scratch?? And so well written too. Will be looking forward to future posts!!

  5. Melissa and I think that you are made with lots of love! Sigh........