This is part of the Lord of the Rings Food Theme Party series

Just call me Melkor. This weekend, I spent a day making an army of balrogs. Of course, they are really small so I don’t expect to take over the world any time soon.

Also, they look a little like Barney with a Mary Tyler Moore haircut, but what do you expect from a marshmallow? I would promise pics on my website, as I have with everything else, but I don't know if they will come out. These are so small, and every one is different! Actually, I tried anyway, and the pics make me giggle, so 3 of 'em are up! www.geocities.com/chattering_teeth

This requires half a batch of milk chocolate fudge, 2 batches of marshmallow, and up to 50 graham crackers, separated into 100 squares. There are enough ingredients to make 50, but you may end up with as few as 30 depending on how you cut the fudge and if you mess up, as I did. Of course, you can always re-melt and shape the scraps until you use it all up. I've adjusted the recipes below to reflect the quantities you will need.

A half batch of milk chocolate fudge:
6 ounces by weight of milk chocolate
2 ounces by weight of unsweetened chocolate
7 ounces by weight of sweetened condensed milk
Melt together and stir until smooth. Spread on a foil or waxed paper lined pan into a rectangle approximately 6 x 12 inches and 1/4 of an inch thick. Allow it to set until firm.
A double batch of morgothmallow*:
4 ounces by volumeof water
2 ounces by volume (164 grams) of corn syrup
12 ounces by volume (300 grams)of sugar
4 large egg whites at room temperature
2 tablespoons of gelatin
2 ounces by volume of cold water
½ to 1 teaspoon of vanilla: the recipe calls for the lesser amount. I prefer a stronger flavor.
Place the first quantity of water with the corn syrup and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat and cook until it reaches the soft ball stage, about 240°F on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Put the water and vanilla in a dish and sprinkle the gelatin over them. When the syrup reaches the correct temperature, remove it from the heat and add the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Whip the whites again to make sure they are thoroughly fluffy, then add all the syrup to the whites and immediately start whipping. Continue to whip until the marshmallow is almost room temperature.
Now, drying marshmallow is incredibly sticky. The easiest way to prepare this for piping later is to lightly oil a pan or dish large enough to accommodate all of the fluff. Scrape all the marshmallow into the dish and spread it out a bit. When the marshmallow cools, you can cut it with a knife and heat up small portions as you need them. I’ve burst two pastry bags while trying to pipe too much cooling marshmallow. It is much better to use a smaller portion, about a cup full. The heat from your hands will also help keep it malleable for a reasonable amount of time. When refilling, microwave a small portion for 10 seconds, or until just warm, give it a stir and place in the pastry bag. If the marshmallow is too warm, it will slump when you pipe it, which is not desirable.
Making the s’mores:
Some other stuff you will need: Pastry bag, #7 plain round tip, a small knife. If you choose to do it the way I did, you will also need a heat source to melt the base of the fudge. I used a kitchen torch. I do list a tested alternative, so don’t worry if you haven’t a torch. Optional depending on your choices: a small spatula, a pastry brush, powdered sugar, cocoa.

Make the fudge and let it cool. Cut the cooled fudge into approximately 1.25 x 2 inch rectangles, and then cut those in half into triangles:

  _______________
  |            /|
  |           / |
  |          /  |
  |         /   |
  |        /    |
  |       /     |
  |      /      |
  |     /       |
  |    /        |
  |   /         |
  |  /          |
  | /           |
  |/____________|
Then, trim out another triangle from the edge:
              /|
             / |
            /  |
           }   / 
          /   /
         /   /   
        /   /        
       /   /           
      /   /              
     /   /_               
    /      \ _         
  ^           ^\_          
 /________________\
Please, no phallic jokes. I do the best I can with ASCII.

The short angle on the bottom should be a straight line, not jagged. This is a profile view of your balrog's frame, with it facing right. The longest edge, the hypotenuse of the triangle, is the line of its back. Place a small notch where the } is for the arms. Cut a thin strip from the long edge of the scrap triangle you just removed from the larger triangle. Roll this between your fingers just to soften it a bit. Center it, and press it gently into the notch you made along the balrog’s spine, and curve both ends forward a bit. Set it aside to firm up, and do the next one.

When they are all assembled and firm, attach the fudge to the crackers by heating the base of the frame and then pressing the base firmly onto the center of a graham cracker. Press where I have marked the diagram with ^s, you may need to squish it a bit for it to stick. If you press down holding it higher up, it will warp and won’t stick. Set them aside and let them firm up. Alternately, you could also glue the frames to the crackers with a thin layer of marshmallow. This also works to reattach a frame if the fudge gets knocked off the cracker. Again, you must give them time to dry before you proceed.

Mix up a batch of marshmallow, and work with about a cup full at a time. Use a small knife or a small offset spatula and coat the head area and arms of the frame with a layer of marshmallow. Do all of them before continuing.

Place a cup full of softened marshmallow in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe the marshmallow, approximating the shape of legs, on either side of the frame. Pipe a round blob on top of the frame where the head should be. Pipe a tail down the back of the frame and loop it around. Pipe wings by laying stripes of marshmallow on top of each other. If the marshmallow is firm enough, it will hold its shape and stand out from the body. Pipe horns onto the head. Blob on dabs of marshmallow for eyes, mouth, hands etc if desired.

Note that if you follow my instructions, some of the fudge will still be exposed. This is, of course, how I did it and therefore just a guideline. Experiment with technique. This gets easier as you become familiar with the properties of the marshmallow.

When the frames have all been fleshed out in marshmallow, you can dust them with a coating of powdered sugar and cocoa, 1 teaspoon of cocoa to 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar. This will help prevent them from sticking to everything they touch until they dry. After they are dry to the touch, store wrapped well with foil. Serve within a few days to preserve the texture of the marshmallow.

To serve: You could just give everyone a spare cracker and a match. The fudge does not melt quickly, however. So, if you want a true smooshy s’more experience, microwave the balrog for a few seconds, or place it in the oven to heat up. Then light it. When it is browned enough, smoosh and eat.

These are quite good untoasted as well. Or they can be served pre-toasted for convenience.


* I have extrapolated the marshmallow recipe from foodtv.com where it is part of 60's Indoor S'Mores with Homemade Graham Crackers. It is credited there thusly: Recipe courtesy of Gale Gand's Just A Bite by Gale Gand and Julia Moskin: Clarkson N. Potter Publishers, 2001.

Incidentally, for the graham cracker challenged, the Indoor S'Mores recipe includes a recipe for graham crackers. Also, Carr's brand Home Wheat crackers taste very much like plain graham crackers. They are the wrong shape, oilier, and the texture is more crumbly, but the taste is spot on.

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