Halifax is quickly becoming a berth for a growing microbrewery scene and we see nothing wrong with that! In addition to our two biggest macrobreweries, Alexander Keith's and Oland Brewery, Garrison Brewing Co and Propeller Brewery have been making a name for themselves in and outside of Halifax, NS. Famous for their giant Growlers, they both make it easy to pick up a large jug of beer that's refillable. We can't talk about local microbreweries without mentioning Granite Brewery, famous for English style real ales like their "Best Bitter Special," The Rogues Roost, who makes a pretty mean IPA, or The Rockbottom Brewpub, where you can enjoy anything from a Russian Imperial Stout to a mild American-style ale - and if that's not your thing, the Hart & Thistle Gastropub & Brewery may be a better bet! Of course, we can't leave out newcomers, Bridge Brewing Company, who sold their first batch of beer in late January 2013 and have made their home in the North End on Agricola Street!
Talking about all this greatness is making us thirsty…but if simply drinking down all this amazing local stout doesn't satisfy, Chef Brad has another suggestion for you. Try one of his favorite sweet treat recipes - something that you can really have fun with while you indulge in your brew:
makes 18 marshmallows, depending on how you cut them!
For the Bloom:
1 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup flat dark beer (We like using the Propeller London-Style Porter)
For the Sugar Syrup:
1/4 cup flat dark beer
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons corn syrup
3/4 cup granulated sugar
For Coating and Topping:
10-12 ounces milk chocolate
2-3 teaspoons canola oil (for thinning the melted chocolate)
1/2 cup stick pretzels
To flatten the beer, open the bottle and let it sit overnight. If you're in a rush, pour it into a bowl and stir the beer with a whisk to release as much of the carbon dioxide as possible.
Spray one standard bread loaf pan (8.5" x 4.5" or close) with nonstick spray or line it with parchment paper and then spray with nonstick coating. If using parchment, tape the flaps to the outside of the pan so the paper stays in place when you spoon in the marshmallow.
For the bloom, sprinkle the gelatin in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the vanilla and flattened beer, and pour this over the gelatin. Whisk until no lumps remain. Set the bowl back into your mixer and fit the mixer with a whisk attachment.
For the sugar syrup, combine the flattened beer, corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a 4-quart saucepan or larger. Clip a candy thermometer to the side. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the sugar mixture to a boil. As the syrup heats, it will foam up to nearly fill the pan. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil over. When the mixture is between 225° and 230°, let it bubble for another 5 minutes and then remove it from heat. (Ideally, the syrup should reach 240° - 250°. If your syrup starts to edge up toward 250°, take the pan off the heat and proceed with the next step.)
With the mixer on low speed, carefully pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin bloom. Turn the mixer to high once all the syrup has been added and let it whip for 8-10 minutes, until it looks like glossy meringue and is very thick. Pour the marshmallow into the loaf pan and let it cure, uncovered, for 10-12 hours or overnight.
When the marshmallows are cured, rub the top with a little powdered sugar and turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board. Rub the top with more powdered sugar. Cut into 18 squares of equal size.
Melt the chocolate either over a double-boiler or in 30-second bursts on HIGH in the microwave, stirring between each burst until the chocolate is melted. If the chocolate seems too thick, whisk in the canola oil one teaspoon at a time until the chocolate is thin enough to coat.
Coat each marshmallow entirely and set them on a piece of wax paper to dry. We use a dinner fork or chop sticks to help turn the marshmallows in the chocolate and slide them onto the wax paper. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the tops of the marshmallows with crushed pretzels. The chocolate might have difficulty setting up if the weather is very humid; try putting the marshmallows in the fridge to help things along.