With Passover just two weeks away my Seder planning is in full swing. Besides all of the food planning and shopping one of the major things I think about in planning the seders is how to keep the participants engaged. Especially when they belong to the five and under crowd. According to the Gemara one of the major purposes of the seder is to get children to ask questions. One of the suggestions in the Gemara is to serve the children nuts and parched corn throughout the seder to keep them engaged and asking questions. I like the idea of giving the children a special snack at a strange time in the meal in order to get them to ask questions, but instead of nuts and parched corn I serve marshmallow frogs. For the past few years I have been placing one large marshmallow frog on each child’s plate right after the first cup of wine. (I use this mold) The question “why do we get candy before dinner” is enough to get the ball rolling on why the night is different and of course eating the candy keeps them busy, at least for a little while. The first year I made these I only made enough for my son (he was the only child old enough to eat marshmallows that year). It turned out that many of the adults were disappointed that they did not get marshmallow frogs as well. So the next year I made them for the adults as well as part of the dessert platters I put out after the meal. They were a such a big hit they have become an perennial part of our pesach tradition. (Although this year my son asked me if I could make lice marshmallows as well. Any ideas on how to do that would be greatly appreciated).
For the dessert marshmallows I use a small frog cookie cutter to cut out the marshmallows. I use green granulated sugar to coat them so they have a bit of a crunchy exterior with a soft marshmallow interior, similar to peeps. During a season when Easter peeps fill the shelves I think it is fun to make my own Kosher Passover frog peeps. Any flavor of marshmallow that is basically white in color will work for these. Vanilla is always a good bet for kids, but I really love this honey version. Even better, since the recipe uses honey rather than corn syrup there is no need to make Passover marshmallow syrup, which speeds up the process. I will be making them again for the seder this year for sure.
3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin*
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 oz) cold water
3/4 cup (6 oz) water
1 1/4 cups (15 oz) honey
1 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) granulated sugar
additional granulated sugar for coating
green food coloring
*(it is important to use real gelatin such as kolatin, fish gelatin will work as well, but vegetable based gel desserts will not)
**recipe adapted from Eileen Talanian Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats
Lightly spray an 11 x 15 jelly roll pan with non-stick cooking spray, then rub gently with a paper towel to distribute the spray and leave just the merest sheen of oil on the sheet. Similarly, lightly spray a large offset spatula and set beside the prepared tray.
Combine the gelatin and the first quantity of water in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended and smooth. Set aside.
Combine second quantity of water, honey, salt and sugar in a 6-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. When mixture boils, brush down the sides of the pan above the upper surface of the syrup with a clean, moistened pastry brush, or cover the pot with a lid for two minutes to allow the condensation to dissolve any lingering crystals. (It is very important to use a large pot for this. The honey makes the mixture boil up very high and it will overflow a smaller pot making a huge mess on the stove. Trust me, you do not want this to happen!)
Place a candy or instant read thermometer into the syrup and continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup reaches 250F. Do not stir the mixture once you remove the lid. Remove pan from heat and carefully stir in gelatin mixture.
Pour mixture into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Quickly cover bowl with loosely draped plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel in order to avoid splatters, and gradually increase the mixer speed to “high”. Whip mixture for 10-12 minutes.
Scrape mixture into the prepared pan and spread out smooth with oiled offset spatula. Set marshmallow aside, uncovered, at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight before cutting.
Place a cup or two of granulated sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Add a few drops of food coloring and seal the bag well. Knead the bag until the color is evenly distributed. Spread the colored sugar out in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and let it dry overnight while the marshmallows are curing.
Place the colored sugar in a medium bowl. Lightly spray the cookie cutter with cooking spray. Cut the marshmallows out as close together as possible. Re-oil the cutter as necessary. If it gets too sticky to make clean cuts run the cutter under hot water to remove the buildup. Dry the cutter and re-oil before continuing. Toss the cutout marshmallows in the sugar to completely coat. Transfer them to a strainer and shake off the excess sugar. Store in an airtight container with the lid slightly ajar for up to two weeks (but they are best the first week).