Friday, December 9, 2005

Artisan Marshmallows: Plush Puffs

Name: Plush Puffs Assortment
Brand: Plush Puffs
Place Purchased:  direct from maker
Price: $5.49 for 4
Size: 4.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Type: Marshmallow

imageYes, artisanal marshmallows. And why not? The stuff we’ve been getting from Kraft are not what marshmallows are capable of. And those things that you find in cereal? Please, let’s not even grace them with the name marshmallow. They’re not even marshy!

I was sent a generous sample pack from Ann of Plush Puffs, which is based here in Los Angeles (Sherman Oaks, to be exact). The weird thing is that until I started Candy Blog, I didn’t really think much of marshmallows. Besides the See’s Scotchmallows, there were very few marshmallow things that I would even try. Peeps were never on the menu, but I have been known to toast marshmallows, if only because they’re the only grillable dessert I know.

Instead of just plain marshmallows, Plush Puffs are flavored with intense combinations of spice, nuts and/or fruit essences:

Caramel Swirl - I think I’d rename this one to “sticky toffee” because it had a nice carmelized sugar note to it and it was sticky. It was very sweet and had a little bit of caramelly fudge topping on it.

Chocolate Chipetta - this is the only one that doesn’t feel “sweet” to me. It’s rich and toasty tasting with a good chocolate hit. One of my top three flavors.

Maple Pecan - holy moly! These were really good. The maple flavor wasn’t artificial or chemically like some candies can be. It was a good sweet woodsy backdrop to the sweet, chewy foam. It had almost a toffee-like flavor and I even had a few pecans in mine.

Peppi-Mint - it’s like a fluffy candy cane! Seriously minty, like someone’s made a foam Altoid or something. The color and texture looks more like a cake than a marshmallow but the intense flavor made me want to eat both but I settled for doing a mash-up with the Chocolate Chipetta which was really good. One of my top three flavors.

Toasted Coconut - this one smelled divine and tasted just a good. I love coconut and I love the nutty smell that reminds me of the beach and all the kids that could tan wearing that coconut oil suntan lotion. One of my top three flavors.

Sydney’s Cinnamon - this was not my favorite, though I had high hopes for it. It’s definitely cinnamonny, but it also has cinnamon oil, which gives it more of a candy hit than a spiciness (like eating a cinnamon hard candy). But where this puff really showed itself was in the toasting. (see below)

Vanilla Bean - I know, vanilla, kind of bland. It wasn’t really bland, a little salty and it just didn’t wow me. I think this would be good with something else, like maybe over pie or toasted or in s’mores.

Sam’s Sour Lemon - these had a gorgeous zesty lemon smell and pretty creamy and vivid yellow swirls in them. Calling them “sour” lemon doesn’t work at all for me (in fact, I would call them “zesty” lemon instead) but the flavor is really nice and mellow. I also didn’t care much for the mix of textures wtih the crunchy lemon sugar but it’s not a dealbreaker or anything.

There’s one more flavor on their list that for some reason I didn’t get in my grab bag, which is the one that sadly interested me most - Orange Honey. The honey flavor is not that noticeable in the other Plush Puffs but is one of the things that I’ve always found so intense about the See’s Scotchmallows. (I guess I’ll have to place an order.)

Per the recommendation of Ann at Plush Puffs, I tried some in my tea and of course toasted some of Sydney’s cinnamon:

imageI brewed a cup of Revolution Lavender Earl Grey tea and and dropped in about a quarter of a puff (I didn’t want to overload). As I took the photos I noticed the marshmallow dissolving into a beautiful aromatic foam. I enjoyed the combination of flavors, the creaminess of the marshmallow, the interaction of the botanicals of bergamot, lemon and lavender was really nice. And of course the sweetness of the puff was a nice change from my usually naked tea. Even after I’d slurped off the foamy dissolved puffiness there was still a nice lingering sweetness and lemony flavor.  Definitely a cool way to decorate an ordinary after-dinner or afternoon tea. I still prefer my naked tea, because that’s just the way I am.

imageThe drink marshmallows were invented for, of course, is hot chocolate. I got some amazing Mayan Hot Chocolate mix from Xocoatl from my sister-in-law at Thanksgiving which I made here at the office with some milk in the microwave. In went a half of a Sydney’s Cinnamon. Instead of dissolving in a bubbly foam and spreading across the surface like the lemon one in the tea did, this one hung together really well. But once I tried poking it with a spoon it melted completely. I scooped it up like some sort of dessert soup with some of the hot chocolate and enjoyed that until all I had left was my cocoa broth. The spice of the cinnamon went really well with the Mayan chocolate which already had a hit of spices in it.

image

I kept a few of the Sydney’s Cinnamon aside for toasting. I loaded one up on a carving fork because I know that a single prong really doesn’t do very well with a marshmallow. I put it over the open flame on the gas burner on my stove and it carmelized so beautifully and left the house smelling so good, I think I’ll just start toasting these like incense. Here’s a tip about toasting them. They’re huge. They’re actually too big to toast whole. There’s no way to get a fully molten center (I do not like medium rare toasted marshmallows) with a marshmallow this size. What is so intense about these is that they melt even at moderate heat, which turns them into this molten, intense foamy sauce with a crispy carmelized shell. In the future I think I’ll slice them in half and then have a greater surface area to center ratio.

I’ve been looking for a summer dessert to have after grilling and this just might be the thing. Everyone can choose their own flavor and I think it’d be really cool to make some grown-up s’mores and drinks with them. They don’t quite fit into the “candy” family for me for some reason. They feel more like food, maybe that’s because they’re so satisfying and slightly saltier (more savory) than an ordinary marshmallow.

I should go back and add them to the gift guide, especially since they have baskets where you can choose the selection of flavors. Also, if you’re dubious about them, you can try their “scraps” which are not quite perfect marshmallows. I love factory stores. Overall this is the kind of thing I’d like to offer guests at a party and I can see myself ordering them for a summer grill or maybe part of dessert a holiday cocktail party. I don’t see myself just ordering them to eat, maybe it’s because they feel kind of precious being handmade and all,  I just can bring myself to just wolf them down like so many handfuls of M&Ms or Skittles.

Rating - 8 out of 10

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:31 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyLos AngelesReviewCaramelChocolateCoconutMarshmallowMintsNuts8-TastyUnited States

Comments
  1. All that goodness and it’s still just an 8 out of 10?  Hard words for soft food.

    Comment by Travis Smith on 12/09/05 at 5:25 pm #
  2. I think I may have seen these in a cute little coffee shop the other day. I want to try the Peppi-mint ones!

    Comment by Jodi on 12/11/05 at 9:23 pm #
  3. I really tried to keep an open mind with these artisan marshmallows which look pretty awesome and delicious… but I couldn’t quite think straight after seeing the price of 5.49 for 4 marshmallows!  This one is definitely outta my league but I like how you give equal opportunity attention to dollar store candies as well as the high end ones.

    (*retreats to corner with package of Peeps*)

    Comment by Bryan on 12/13/05 at 1:48 pm #
  4. Hi Cybele,

    What a great article for Plush Puff.  The only problem is is that the marshmallows are not that great, more than $20 a pound and the texture is far from fluffy (more like foam rubber). I usually enjoy your reviews, but on this occassion I need to make a strong objection to anyone purchasing from this company. Please buy from Micheal Rechutti in San Francisco or William Sonoma.
    Looking forward to your next article.

    Your friend,

    Candy Lover

    Comment by candy Lover on 2/26/07 at 12:06 pm #
  5. Cybele's avatar

    Candy Lover - I’ve not tried Rechiutti’s marshmallows yet (can you believe that they were out of them last time I went to the Ferry Building?).

    I did just pick up in the Williams Sonoma marshmallows a couple of weeks ago and started in on them this weekend. Talk about dense marshamallows! They were thick and latexy and had no foamy bounce to them whatsoever. And they didn’t roast up very well at all.

    While I agree that Plush Puffs are not ultra-light, they did toast really well and I liked the flavors. To each his own ... I’m glad you’re able to offer another firsthand opinion.

    Comment by Cybele on 2/26/07 at 12:20 pm #
  6. I bought plush puffs expecting a delicious treat. They were almost inedible. Five of us tasted them. The vanilla smelled like the cardboard of a cereal box and tasted worse. The caramel tasted like artificial rum extract.  The chocolate were bland, but 2 of my family members were abled to eat them anyway. The other flavors we threw out. Also the texture was unpleasant on all of them, very dense and ruberry. I would never recommend this product.

    Comment by Victoria on 12/11/07 at 1:24 pm #
  7. I recently had a deck party - to celebrate the construction of our new deck, and as you can imagine it was really cold (being January) so we had some heater’s out for everyone. The highlight of the night had to be when we got out the skewers for s’mores - we used Plush Puffs, little Ghiradelli squares and graham crackers - it made the perfect s’more and the flavors were super delicious. Highly recommended!

    Comment by Stacey on 1/18/08 at 10:30 am #
  8. Hi again Cybele.
    Ohgee, such confusion. Everyone has different opinions. Okay. Guess Plush-Puffs is out of the picture. Almost put an order in awhile ago. The thing is, for 3 days, I’ve been searching the internet looking and trying to find toasted coconut marshmallos. Hopefully, a good quality product. No luck. For sure, I thought you could direct me in finding something credible and delicious Cybele. Since years have gone by, any new suggestions to offer? Can anyone further comment re Micheal Rechutti in San Francisco? Thanks.

    Comment by Marcee ..... on 1/19/11 at 11:47 am #
  9. Cybele's avatar

    Marcee -

    I haven’t tried the Recchiuti lately (they’re very expensive). I did try Williams-Sonoma and found them very firm and though nicely flavored and not too sweet, a bit dense for me.

    Trader Joe’s had some interesting ones, but I found them too wet inside, not meringue-like enough for me. Pete’s Gourmet has good prices and charming presentation.

    I don’t think that finding a consensus of opinions is necessarily the way to go, but to find something where the description fits your preferences.

    I have bought Plush Puffs since this review and enjoyed them quite a bit. But I’ve discovered that I’m probably not the best high-end marshmallow authority.

    Comment by Cybele on 1/19/11 at 12:26 pm #
  10. Thanks Cybele!
    Oh ... I am delighted to read your reply ... really! Yesterday (today too ... duh) I tried WS. They have nothing to offer. Maybe for Easter. Also tried SEE’S & FM candies. Other sources also. No luck. This has been a real project!! Michael & Jacky Recchiuti do offer real vanilla (plain) marshmallows. They do contain gelatin. Okay w/me though. The mallows look good in the photo. Would be great to have a taste/sample of a Plush-Puffs just in coconut. I would certainly purchase if they tasted good & fresh. The thing is, I need 6-8 packages, for all of us gals when we get together. Not sure how big each one is, or how many mallows per package. Overall, a candy-investment ~ LOL!! Okay, I’ll check out Pete’s Gourmet. We do shop Trader Joe’s. I have never seen the TCM though. Funny, but, earlier today, I opened a bag of TJ’s Salt Water Taffy. Oh. Verrry sweet. For only $1.59, no complaints. Hopefully, TJ’s toasted coconut marshmallows will be in stock. Cybele, I so appreciate your feedback. Many (most always!) times the opinions you give I do use for a guide. Your comments/suggestions AND sensibility have always been completely helpful. You are a candy genius!!!!

    Comment by Marcee ..... on 1/19/11 at 1:08 pm #

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