Baking & cooking with an enthusiastic amateur
My vegetarian girlfriend mentioned to me that the one food she “cheats” with is marshmallows. Instances like this remind me of the challenges that vegetarians and vegans face in a society where animal products are widely accepted for use in nearly every type of food. On the bright side, it seems that nearly every product has a vegan alternative available somewhere, including marshmallows. The question is: How good are they?
The only vegan marshmallows at my local Whole Foods were Dandies. They were in the baking section next to the regular marshmallows, not with the displays of gourmet marshmallows near the bakery section and check-out where I originally looked.
Their packaging is kind of cute and retro-inspired. Inside are a fair number of marshmallows, each about half the size of regular marshmallows, but not quite as small as mini-marshmallows. It was a little frustrating figuring out how to use them for things like s’mores given their size, but on the other hand, it’s very convenient for just eating!
And just eat them we did, at least with the first few specimens! They’re quite tasty, with a good flavor, though the texture isn’t quite the same as their gelatin-containing counterparts. My friends agreed; no one would mistake them for Jet-Puffed, but there’s nothing objectionable or off-putting about them either.
Of course, we couldn’t just eat all of them as is! While I lacked a campfire, experimentation with my blowtorch showed that Dandies do brown on the outside just like regular marshmallows do. Really delicious like this! I can absolutely see making a vegan chocolate cupcake with some marshmallows on top, browned by a cooking torch… Yum…
Finally, we had to “do science” to these. Question: Do vegan marshmallows explode in the microwave? Answer: No, they do not. OK, not a real experiment since we only had one data point, but you can see the results for yourself.
In conclusion, unless you’re vegan, I don’t think these marshmallows are worth it. At over $4 for a package, with nothing special about the taste, I wouldn’t bother as an omnivore. That said, if you’re a vegan or a strict vegetarian who won’t eat gelatin, Dandies will allow you to enjoy s’mores and other marshmallow-containing desserts again, no problem!