I ended up visiting two distilleries, two breweries, and a cocktail bar this weekend and I should be posting about those. But since apparently the first few snow flakes fell today, I’m postponing the epic weekend post for the perfect winter booze project – marshmallow vodka, two ways.
These days it seems like you can buy every flavor under the sun in vodka form. Sriracha, bacon, whipped cream, cake, etc etc etc. Someone is taking this idea to the bank, literally. You can get a decently clean vodka for under $10 and infuse it at home with a little bit of research, or you can buy a bottle of vodka and flavoring. Sure, the bottle says “Natural Flavors” on it, but that doesn’t mean it bears any resemblance to the source of the flavor. Wouldn’t you rather get flavors from your kitchen than a laboratory?
Now that I’ve made it sound like I hate chemistry, let me just point out that I actually really like flavored vodkas. When I first discovered the marshmallow and whipped cream vodkas, I owned them both. The marshmallow vodka went in most of my hot chocolates and the whipped cream went with orange soda for a creamsicle concoction. And they were delicious! (And I was in my late 20s/early 30s at this point.)
That said, if I can make something at home and control the process, I’m going to give it a try. With winter lurking just behind the corner, it was time to try my hand at homemade marshmallow vodka. I’m by no means the first to give this a shot, I found several versions online (mixthatdrink.com, Craig’s Concoctions, Rosalilium). The process couldn’t be simpler – cut marshmallows to expose as much of the gooey center as possible*, fill jar with marshmallows, top off with vodka, wait. The hardest part was getting the marshmallows to stay in the jar when adding the vodka – they are buoyant little buggers.
I wanted to try something just a little different, so I did one plain jar and one jar with toasted marshmallows. I don’t have a fire pit and I didn’t want to toast them one by one over my gas burner, so I borrowed a trick from my childhood and used the toaster oven. (I also used “Stackers” flat marshmallows, this was unintentional. I just wasn’t paying enough attention at the store.) The toasted marshmallows tore apart quite a bit, which ended up being a good thing as they dissolved much better. The outer layer of the raw mallows got goopy but never disappeared. Other sites range from a 24 hour to two week infusion time – I sampled a few times and finally strained them after a week. I used half-pint jars for this as it was just to test the concept. I’d go bigger for a full batch.
So tonight, after the first few flakes decide to fall, I strained my vodkas and whipped up some homemade hot chocolate (loosely based on the Hershey powder recipe). The raw marshmallow jar yielded far less vodka because it was harder to fill and some strained out in a thick and unappetizing goo. The resulting vodka is milky white and sweet, but with a definite taste of raw marshmallow. The toasted marshmallow jar yielded almost twice as much vodka because I was better able to fill it, the stickiness kept things from floating. What was in there dissolved far better and ended up as an almost clear brown. The toasted flavor is pronounced without edging to just burnt sugar – there’s still a distinctly marshmallow flavor.
I tried each one in hot chocolate with one tablespoon of the vodka. The plain vodka got lost in the richness of the chocolate but the toasted one added a nice nuttiness and depth of flavor. I’ve never really been one to eat raw marshmallows (unless they are homemade) but I *love* a toasted marshmallow (s’more optional) so I guess it’s no surprise that toasted won this battle. Toasted marshmallow vodka has earned a spot on my winter bar!
*I am going to try one more test batch of raw marshmallow, using either larger mallows that I can cut apart more, or using marshmallow fluff because that’s ALL gooey center!