Alexa Lemley and Samantha Aulick took roasting marshmallows further with their Indiana-based delicacy business, 240Sweet, specializing in priceless marshmallow flavors. With flavors like Champagne, Turtle, Key Lime, Peppermint Lemonade Twist and the culture-mixing Bourbon Sugar Churro with Cajeta, these puffs put the Super Wal-mart marshmallow aisle to shame.
When you were a kid, did you love marshmallows or did this come later in life?
Alexa: I have always loved marshmallows. My sister and I have long considered stale Peep beaks a delicacy.
Sam: Who doesn’t love marshmallows? When I was growing up, we always had Peeps in our Easter Baskets. Alexa would like for me to note that we still always have Peeps in our Easter baskets–even though we make gourmet puffs.
The media and women aloud in conversation…and just about most people…do not bring them up. We use the phrase “chocolate craving.” As a big marshmallow fanatic when I let my health kick slip, I am so happy to see your company exists. What did you do in the beginning? How did you know there was a market for specialty marshmallows?
Sam: We had no idea there was really a market when we started making them. We just liked them and thought others might, too. One day, while Alexa and I were packing up marshmallows to take hair salons attached to our winter holiday menus, I started to tell her about a dream I had the night before. In my dream, people were giving us bags of money in exchange for bags of candy. Then, it clicked! That afternoon, someone called our office to try and order marshmallows. We took it as a sign and started selling them the next day.
Alexa: I didn’t know there was a market. I was looking for something that Sam could offer at the local farmers’ market to promote our catering business. I came across Martha Stewart’s recipe and went from there. When we took them to the market for our one appearance of the year, we sold out. Then, Sam came up with the idea giving out marshmallows with menus at hair salons and such. We didn’t start really “selling” them for a couple of years.
I’m a bit confused about how bacon can work into a sweet flavor. And obviously, people love it or you wouldn’t continue selling it. What does this taste like?
Alexa: Sweet and salty deliciousness.
Pineapple is among my favorite flavors of all time, be it juice, a healthy fresh fruit snack or pie. What ideas do you have if I wanted to make a Hawaiian or Asian themed dessert?
Alexa: I just made Ambrosia puffs with coconut and almond. They would be great with heavy whipping cream and roasted pineapple. I would mix it all together and serve it in a glass dish with an orchid garnish.
What about my other favorite style of food, Irish? What flavors might work with Emerald Isle desserts and possibly something containing a bit o’ alcohol?
Alexa: I make an Irish Whiskey puff that serves well as a shot glass for Baileys. You just hollow out the puff to pour in the shot. Who needs more dessert than that?
Do you have plans for special diet needs, like low sugar, dairy-free, kosher approved, etc.? Is there a semi-healthy way to make your marshmallows fun?
Sam: While we have expiremented with both low sugar and vegetarian marshmallows. So far, we haven’t been satisfied with either of those. As we only use real foods in making the marshmallows (for example, Hoosier Strawberry is made with organic strawberries inside and out), they aren’t the worst indulgence. They are free of high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, stabilizers, artificial colors, and all that yucky stuff.
What is your big marshmallow making process?
Alexa: I combine corn syrup, water, and beet sugar in a pot and boil the mixture to 240 degrees. Then, I pour it over gelatin and whip it. While it is whipping, I dance around the kitchen and add things like strawberry puree. Then, I pour the goo into a pan to cure. We cut all puffs by hand and dust them with powdered sugar and corn starch.
What is exciting to you about the world of sweets?
Alexa: All of the possibilities and endless ways to delight and surprise others.
Which is your favorite flavor and why? How do you eat it?
Sam: My favorite flavor is Lemoande. It is one of the first ones that Alexa created–and still one of the best. To make it, she adds the juice and zest of organic lemons to the goo. I love it toasted. It tastes like lemon chiffon pie.
Alexa: My favorite flavor is Bourbon Sugar Churro with Cajeta. I love the crunch of the Demerara sugar, the bourbon taste, and the funky goodness of cajeta. I also use Saigon cinnamon to make it extra delicious.