When we first meet the eponymous heroine of one of television’s recent cult classics, she’s on a late-night stakeout, gathering evidence of a cheating husband at a seedy motel instead of finishing her homework like a good high school kid should. Our girl Ronnie is tart and a little gritty, not afraid of going toe to toe with members of a biker gang, tracking down the identity of her alleged rapist, or singlehandedly hunting down the real murderer of her best friend (and her ex-boyfriend’s sister), Lilly Kane.
Yeah, it’s pretty dark stuff for a supposedly teenage-oriented show, a juicily complex web of stories that pulls you in past the initial “teen girl detective” tagline that led so many potential viewers to dismiss it out of hand. (Yes, just like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Don’t get me started on how this is the reason why we have five different versions of NCISCSI or whatever crime serials are all over network TV.)
Suffice to say that the girl’s been through a lot already. In the past year, her best friend got fatally beaned in the head, her dad lost his job as county sheriff for condemning the investigation, her alcoholic mom abandoned the family. But before people started getting killed, Veronica and Lilly were cheerleaders, the popular kids. If she’d gone to Neptune High instead of Sunnydale, Cordelia Chase would’ve likely sat at their lunch table.
And though every former friend she ever had turned against her after Lilly’s murder (not that she needed them anyway; rich kids can be such bitches), Veronica still has a good heart. By the end of the pilot episode, Veronica—who spends most of her time cracking cases with her private investigator dad—has reluctantly allowed herself to do a good deed for the new kid in town, giving herself an ally and a friend, and leading to the marshmallow quote that inspired this recipe.
In honor of our tough-but-tender teen detective (someone whose gumption Harriet the Spy would no doubt admire), have a plate of Veronica Marshmallows ready at your next viewing party for the late series. A few notes on the recipe:
You’ll need citric acid for the full sweet-and-sour effect of the Sour Patch Kids-esque outer coating. Also known as “sour salt” in some circles, it sounds harsh to the uninitiated, but is nothing more than a natural alpha hydroxy acid that’s found in citrus fruit. Get it at any store that also sells canning or wine- and beer-making supplies, some specialty grocery stores, Williams-Sonoma, or (as always) Amazon.
Because of the sticky factor and the extra layer of sugar, don’t make these marshmallows on wet and humid days. They’ll never retain their nice crunchy sugar coating as long as you need them to—unless you’re in the business of eating 10 dozen marshmallows in one fell swoop. Trust me, all you’ll end up with is a slimy ball of marshmallows that adheres to itself with velcro-like tenacity.
And credit where credit’s due: tip of the hat to DIY genius and fellow TV lover Autumn Makes and Does for the idea of dissolving gelatin in fruit juice, rather than water, for more intense and authentic flavor.
Total time: 2 hours plus overnight setting and hardening time
Makes 128 1-inch marshmallows
- 1/2 cup fresh or (thawed) frozen sour cherries
- 1/4 cup passionfruit juice
- 3 envelopes powdered gelatin
- 1 cup light corn syrup or Lyle’s golden syrup
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
- powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon citric acid
Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with shortening and coat lightly with cornstarch, tapping out the excess.
Have a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at the ready, with the bowl separated from the base.
Puree the cherries in a food processor or blender, then strain to extract 1/4 cup cherry juice.
Pour the cherry juice and passionfruit juice into a wide, shallow bowl, pie plate, or baking dish. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over its surface to dissolve the granules. Don’t bother to stir it in; the gelatin will absorb the liquid on its own.
Stir the corn syrup, granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup water together in a high-sided saucepan. Clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
When the sugar syrup reaches 235˚ (soft-ball stage) on the candy thermometer, remove it from the heat. Whisk the dissolved gelatin into the syrup and pour into the bowl of the stand mixer. Attach the bowl to the base and start whisking at low speed for 30 seconds.
Incrementally increase the stand mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 5-6 minutes, watching the marshmallow goo turn from syrupy to light, fluffy, and shiny pink. Add the citric acid for the last minute of mixing.
Spread the marshmallow goo into the prepared baking pan with the help of a spatula. Using a small mesh strainer, dust the top of the marshmallow lightly with powdered sugar. Let sit undisturbed on an overnight stakeout on your counter so the marshmallow can set.
The next day, whisk the granulated sugar and citric acid together in a small bowl to make the sour sugar coating.
Turn the marshmallow out onto a large cutting board and cut into four strips each 2 inches wide. I use my longest slicing knife for this; it gets way more use cutting up sweets than it does slicing roasts in my kitchen. Cut each of these strips into four 2-inch cubes.
Cut each cube into four smaller pieces, then bisect each of those pieces so you end up with 1-inch cubes. Yes, it’s a little tedious, but don’t you want your marshmallows to be cubes and not oblong-ish rectangles? Both your knife and your fingers will get sticky quickly; rinse frequently to keep ‘em clean, and use cornstarch sparingly on your cutting board. I say “sparingly” because you want to keep the marshmallows somewhat tacky or else the sour sugar won’t adhere.
Dredge each 1-inch cube lightly in the sugar, then place on a cooling rack to “cure” and harden the sugar. When the marshmallows feel like Peeps, bag and store for up to 3 days.