All good things are wild and free.
-Henry David Thoreau
I grew up in a small town in a valley between a river and a plateau on the outskirts of the Adirondack park. As a teenager I did my best to rebel against the confines of the village limits. We all know that in retrospect, almost everything seems better, but damn- I swear that it was idyllic- it was the stuff of all the best scenes of all the great coming of age movies combined. Gangs of us on bikes cruising all over town. Hide and seek in cornfields. Rock hopping along the creek with hobo packs propped up on our shoulders filled with the day’s goodies. Sticks and snowball fights and mud and running through all of the neighbour’s yards. There was adventure, and even a dash of danger.
But the summers… the summers in Northern New York were truly magical… and they still are.
My family is lucky enough to have a cabin in the woods not far from town, that sits overlooking a cold, deep, Adirondack pond. It is filled with keepsakes collected through generations. I love camp. Everybody that visits loves it- it is just one of those very special spots. There is the damp, piney smell of the woods; falling asleep to the sounds of bullfrogs and birds and strange insects; the endless bonfires that dance and crackle through the night (and the endless wood collecting missions that go along with it), the river swimming, the slippery feel of the trout as it wriggles in your fingers… and let’s not forget the marshmallows (s’mores!!): the finding of the perfect stick, and the careful attention that one must give to the roasting process (are you a golden brown toaster, or a flame-y singe-r?)
Somewhere between early morning coffee as we watched the fish jumping in the pond and late afternoon champagne with our toes in the grass, we dreamed up a new flavour for this most beloved summertime treat. I had a couple of different versions rolling around in my head, but after the ‘very difficult task’ of multi-day taste testing, there was one that stood out:
oh so marshmallowy
and kind of tasting like a perfect , sunny summer day in the woods.
Behold: the lemon thyme s’more!
1 cup cold water, divided
3 1/4 oz packets of unflavoured gelatin
2 cup sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablesppon vanilla
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2cup confectioners sugar
Line 13 x 9 inch pan with foil and grease with cooking spray
Pour 1/2 cup cold water into bowl of mixer with whisk attachment (you can do this with just a bowl and a hand held mixer, but do be aware that the stiffness of the marshmallow could cause the motor to burn out… I got mine smoking a bit, but it survived!)
Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until the water is absorbed- about 10 minutes.
Combine 2 cups sugar, the corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup cold water in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium hear, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. If the sugar syrup begins to crystalize on the side of the pan take a wet pastry brush and brush it down. Increase the heat, and attach your candy thermometer to the pan. Bring to a boil, then let the mix boil without stirring until the syrup reached 240 degrees.
With the mixer on low, pour the hot syrup mix gently down the side of the bowl and into the gelatin. Gradually increase whisk speed, and beat until mixture is very thick and looking like marshmallow fluff- about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until well incorporated.
Using a spatula, scrape the marshmallow mix into the pan, doing your best to evenly distribute. You can manipulate the mix slightly and smooth the top using a wet offset spatula or knife. Let sit uncovered at room temperature for about 4 hours.
Combine the corn starch and confectioner’s sugar in a bowl and blend. Sift a generous amount of the powder onto your work surface (big enough to encompass your marshmallow rectangle!) and turn the slab out. Remove foil and cut into 1-2 inch squares or other fun shapes (make sure to dust your knife or cookie cutters with the sugar-starch mix). Toss the marshmallows in the sugar-starch mix to coat, dusting off the excess. (At this stage, you might notice an overt cornstarch flavour when you eat the fresh, unroasted marshmallow but it goes away with the toasting, and will fade after a few hours for those of us that insist on sampling before roasting.) If not using immediately, layer between pieces of wax paper and place in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
12 oz fresh raspberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Put all ingredients into a saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium heat until everything is incorporated and sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer until slightly thickened – about 2 minutes. Press sauce through a fine mesh strainer and into a bowl. Let cool until ready to use.
Lemon Thyme Cookie (barely adapted from an old Gourmet recipe)
3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
2 sticks soft butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt and stir in thyme. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and zest until light and fluffy. Add egg, beating until combined, then beat in lemon juice and ginger. Add flour mixture, beating until just combined.
Halve dough and on separate sheets of wax paper form each half into logs that are about 3 inches in diameter and 12 inches long. Use the wax paper as a guide to manipulate the dough into nice, even logs. Put the logs into the freezer, wrapped in the wax paper and foil, for about 20 minutes (or until firm) and for as long as 3 weeks (yay! cookies on demad!) If the logs are frozen, let them sit to almost room temperature for slicing ease. Slice into slightly thicker than 1/4 inch rounds and bake on ungreased cookie sheets in a 350 degree oven until barely golden on the edges. Remove from cookie sheet immediately and let cool on a wire rack.