To all my fellow challenge contestants ... You're Welcome! Why are you thanking me? Because my little experiment was an epic fail, so I just narrowed the field for you. ;)
I have to admit that when my package from Marx Foods arrived with my five random items for the challenge, I was a little disappointed. Mostly because two of the items were chilies, and I had vowed to steer clear of those posts for a while. Then there were the trumpet mushrooms - I don't eat mushrooms, so those are in the pantry patiently awaiting our next Japanese night. They can go in the Miso Soup and I'll just fish them out of mine. Then there was wild rice. Seriously?! What are you guys thinking sending an Armenian wild rice?! Don't you know we live on Pilaf??? What do I know about Wild Rice?? ;)
So let's see ... I had to come up with something using at least 2 of the 5 ingredients, which were:
- Coconut Sap Sugar
- Black Trumpet Mushrooms
- Wild Rice
- Guajillo Chilies
- Granulated Dried Pasilla Chilies
Ruling out the chilies and mushrooms left me with coconut sugar and wild rice. I will admit that I have served wild rice a few times, but it doesn't really count since it was from a box rather than homemade. The only things I've ever seen done with wild rice, other than cooking it like Pilaf, are salads and soups. Someone suggested a rice pudding, but I wanted to do something more outside the box. I realize that Rice Krispie Treats aren't exactly outside the box in terms or originality, but I thought I could score some points with making both the Rice Krispies and the Marshmallow from scratch.
The Rice Krispies themselves are really cool. I was tempted to switch gears and use them in some sort of creepy Halloween treat since it looks kinda like worms or something, but I had already started the marshmallow, so I kept going.
I haven't decided what the problem was, or whether it was a combination of things. For one thing, I knew that I was going to have more marshmallow than was required for the amount of rice I had, so I staged a separate vessel for the extra. Looking at it now, I think I probably drowned the Krispies in too much marshmallow. It ended up making those nice crunchy worms squishy and chewy. The other problem may have been the Karo I used. I thought we had two bottles in the pantry - that's what I get for not checking! What we had was a little regular Karo and a full bottle of Light Karo. The Light Karo says right on the label that you get better results in cereal bars using the regular. I was hoping that since I was using both, it would work out OK. Then there was the fact that I decided to incorporate some of the chilies after all, along with coco, since chilies and chocolate are a great pairing. I looked at one chocolate marshmallow recipe and saw that they mixed the coco into some hot water before incorporating it, rather than just adding the coco powder directly. I did likewise, but with less liquid. Maybe even that much was too much??
Sniffle, sniffle, sob ...
The rice was super easy! The only problem I had was with my strainer. Some of the grains poked through and got stuck, so I had to scrape them off or risk double-dunking and burning them.
Apparently, if you want to try this with white rice, you are supposed to cook the rice the day before, then spread it out on a sheet tray and let it dry out overnight. The wild rice holds more moisture inside of it naturally, so that, along with the high heat from the oil (I used peanut), allows it to pop.
I saw a video online of someone puffing white rice in a wok, but I was afraid of splattering, so I used a small pot, filled with about an inch of oil. Dunk your strainer into it before you heat it to see if it's deep enough. Just like if you were making popcorn on the stove, heat the oil and when it starts to get swirly and you think it's hot enough, drop a grain of rice in to test it. If it doesn't pop right away, fish it out with a spoon and wait another minute or two before trying again. Unlike with popcorn, you can't leave it in. I think the moisture gets sucked out of it or something, because it will just sit there. I figured that out ... eventually ... threw in a "fresh" grain and it popped right away.
Only pop about a tablespoon of rice at a time, then dump it out onto paper towels to soak up the oil.
HOW COOL IS THAT?!
Since the experiment as a whole was such a bust, I won't bother posting the marshmallow recipe. I was so mad when I tried it that I haven't bothered unearthing the pan of just plain marshmallows yet to see if that worked out at least.
I bloomed gelatin in the mixing bowl with some water, separately steeped the chilies and coco in a little hot water, whipped the two together, then streamed in the Karo/coconut sugar mixture like you would for any marshmallow recipe and let it whip for 15". Looked marshmallowy to me.
Here's where it started to go wrong ... added too much to the Krispies.
I don't feel bad about blowing a challenge, but I do feel bad about wasting that beautiful coconut sugar and the rice! When I first got them, I wasn't sure what to make of the coconut sugar (would it smell/taste like coconut?). It actually smelled like brown sugar with a hint of licorice. I have read that coconut sugar, which is extracted from the sap of the coconut palm, can be used completely interchangeably with "regular" cane sugar and has a lower glycemic index, so it's actually better for you. If you plan to look for it, check the labels on palm sugar; coconut sugar would be labeled as such, but since the coconut palm is a palm, some palm sugars are specifically coconut palm but just say palm, so read the fine print. I think that's a record for the use of "palm" in a sentence.
I see a Halloween graveyard cake in my future ... with an open grave and "maggots" surrounding the corpse. Or maybe even some monster pumpkin squares or brownies with maggoty wounds?? We'll see...