Ingredients: trying to keep it simple can get complicated February 20 2016

More and more people want to know what they are putting in their bodies, and even more importantly what they are feeding their children. One of the goals while developing Mikey’s Marshmallows recipes was to keep the ingredients list as simple as possible, while maintaining the best flavor and consistency. This translates to not using multi-syllable preservatives and never-seen-in-nature food coloring with numbers attached to them. For most ingredients that is generally easy. But once in a while it can take some research to find the right ingredient to get the job done. 

When asked about the ingredients in Mikey’s one of the questions that often comes up is whether the Marshmallows are Gluten-free (they are) and whether they are Organic (they are not). Occasionally I am asked about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). There are concerns among the public that eating genetically modified food may be harmful. When there is an option, I try to avoid using products that are made from genetically modified crops. Here’s a link to read more about GMOs controversies

After marshmallows are whipped up in a mixer, placed in trays and left to set for several hours they are sliced into cubes. At this point they are still very tacky, so they are dipped into a coating to keep them from sticking to each other, or your fingers. The standard coating is Confectioner’s Sugar. Super fine sugar, which has a multitude of uses in baking and candy making. 

Domino Sugar products that carry the Non-GMO Project seal on the package

Domino's Products which don't contain GMOs, notice that Confectioner's Sugar is not among them. 

Originally I just picked up Domino’s Confectioner’s Sugar, the preferred Marshmallow coating. That is until I started listing ingredients on the Mikey’s Marshmallows labels. That’s when I learned that Corn Starch is always added to Confectioner’s sugar. I am sure you bakers out there know this, but I had never really noticed. The purpose is to keep the very fine sugar from caking up; it is especially necessary in humid environments. Not only is there Corn Starch added, but it is not certified as a Non-GMO product. 

My solution to avoiding the added Corn Starch is to create my own. It adds a step to production, but also means one less item to maintain in inventory. Using a mini-food processor I grind table sugar to a powder-like consistency. I then had to choose a starch to address the issue of caking.  I considered Arrowroot, which is a starch found in the roots of tropical plants but found it to be a bit too bitter. I also considered Tapioca powder, but settled on Potato Starch, which adds little to no flavor.