Fruity lambic beer marshmallows are sweet but not one-dimensional; the beer imparts a slight sourness, and a bit of a blush that can be emphasized with a few drops of food coloring. Dipped in a rich imperial stout chocolate fondue, they’re a pleasantly boozy twist on a classic pairing, and perfect for Valentine’s Day (or any special occasion). And yes, you should totally try the marshmallows in s’mores too.
As always when cooking or baking with beer, choose a bottle you’d enjoy drinking on its own; Lindeman’s lambics are easy to find but sweeter than is normal for the traditionally funky style. Go with whatever you prefer—that goes for brand as well as type of fruit, though cherry (kriek) and raspberry (framboise) both pair particularly well with chocolate; check out Beer Advocate’s top-rated lambics if you need more guidance. To intensify the 70% dark chocolate in the sauce, choose a stout with a pronounced chocolate flavor, like Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis or Alesmith Speedway Stout.
- — A digital kitchen scale that switches between grams, pounds, and ounces, as well as fluid ounces and milliliters
- — A candy thermometer
- — A stand mixer with a whisk attachment
- — A fondue pot for serving (optional, but obviously romantic!)
- — Golden syrup (but light corn syrup will also work)
- — Golden caster sugar (regular granulated sugar will be fine here, but read more about the difference between the two)
- Fit the balloon whisk to a stand mixer.
- 2 Weigh 4 ounces (120 grams) of the beer and pour into the stand mixer’s bowl. Sprinkle with the gelatin and agar agar, then lock the bowl safely to the mixer. Let the gelatin and agar agar dissolve while you complete the next steps.
- 3 Put the sugar and golden syrup in a large, deep saucepan (this will bubble up aggressively, so make sure the pan is large enough) and top up with the rest of the fruit lambic—this should cover the mixture once stirred, but top up with a little water if required.
- 4 Heat your temperature probe or sugar thermometer in the pan and bring to a boil. Do not walk away; this needs watching like a hawk or it will boil over.
- 5 Once the temperature hits 275ºF (135ºC), set the mixer on the lowest speed and start feeding the hot sugar mix into the bowl.
- 6 Add food coloring, if using, and, slowly and carefully, turn the speed up on the mixer until it’s about two-thirds to maximum and leave to mix for 5–8 minutes.
- 7 Meanwhile, line a container that’s roughly 4 1/2 × 3 1/4 inches with a piece of plastic wrap about as long as your arm. (It needs to be bigger than your container, so don’t worry about it over hanging.) Lightly oil the cling film.
- 8 Check on your marshmallow mixture. After 5–8 minutes you’ll get a kind of shiny, stretched bubble gum effect on the surface. Pour the mixture into the container and fold the overhanging cling film over the top. Pop the marshmallow mixture somewhere cool and leave to set for a couple of hours.
- 9 Put the cornstarch, powdered sugar, and sherbet, if using, in a large bowl and mix.
- 10 When the marshmallow is fully set, gently peel the cling film away and, with an oiled knife, cut bite-size pieces and pop them in the large bowl, tossing them in the cornstarch-sugar mix as you go so they don’t stick together.
- 11 These will keep in a sealed container for about a week.
To make the imperial stout chocolate fondue:
- 1 Put the imperial stout and sugar in a saucepan and gently heat for 5–8 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved and it becomes a light syrup. Do not allow to boil.
- 2 Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan of water. Alternatively, heat in the microwave, in short sharp bursts, stirring and repeating, until melted.
- 3 Stir the maple syrup into the melted chocolate, then stirring firmly but not too briskly, slowly add the beer syrup until you have the desired consistency for dipping. (The mixture should ribbon back into the pot when lifted with a spoon).
- 4 Put in a heated bowl or fondue pot in the middle of the table with long skewers for the marshmallows and get dunking!