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I’m Mari.
On Marivelous Me! you’ll find recipes, food gifts, food I’ve traveled for and food solutions. Poke around, maybe you’ll find inspiration for something you’re working on. Enjoy! 


Entries in sweets (9)


Chia Seed Pudding

As a kid, there were commercials on TV advertising Chia Pets. “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” I never gave much thought to what was actually growing on those ceramic figurines, they just magically sprouted hair and fur! It wasn’t until a couple years ago when I started hearing about chia seeds and their health benefits that the light bulb went off - Ohhhh! Chia Pets were covered in… chia seeds! Doh! 

Chia seeds are, I will admit, a little weird in texture. Once expanded, they look and feel a bit like tomato seeds but you'll probably never manhandle chia seeds post expansion. They’re a little slimy (like tapioca) and pop-crunch in your mouth. They aren’t quite as firm a pop as poppy seeds but you kinda see where I’m heading, right? I haven't done a really good job at selling chia seeds but you should try them because they’re really good for you (lots of Omega-3), a super easy way of getting some fiber in your diet and are pretty carb friendly. Did that work? 

My friend shared this chia seed pudding recipe with me. Really simple, she said. And oh, yes it is. She eats her coconut milk version without any sweetener but I like it with just a skosh more sweetness. Feel free to doctor it as you like since it’s like eating tapioca pudding - the possibilities are endless!

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Candied Ginger Slices

If I cooked a single cuisine, my spice cabinet and fridge would be pretty easy to navigate. My mom barely breaks out of the Japanese food family so her spices pretty much read soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, shichimi, togarashi, dashinomoto, wasabi powder, sugar, salt and vegetable oil. Me, I dabble in a variety of cuisines so my fridge and cabinets are chockablock with spices and pickled things from all over the world. I’ve got a homemade mole paste from Mexico (one of my former employees had it shipped from her town in Oaxaca - a super score!), preserved lemons and harrisa from Marrakech, Japanese pickled plums, Thai shrimp paste, etc. I literally have an unquenchable thirst when it comes to dried spices and herbs. I joke with Mr. Mari that in my fantasy kitchen, I’d have an entire wall devoted to spices. One of the things I used to buy was candied ginger. You know, one of those McCormick jars with crystallized ginger nuggets. At $9.00 a jar, I decided enough is enough; I could make my own for a fraction of the cost. Now I’m wondering what other spice cabinet goodies I can make. Mr Mari, I need a bigger kitchen...

To make whatever quantity you want is very simple. Just divide the weight of your ginger by 4. This will give you your number for sugar (in cups) and water (in cups). For example, if you have 6 ounces of ginger, you would need 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1-1/2 cups water. Easy peasy, right? You’ll also need a candy thermometer. As an experiment, I draped and folded the sugared pieces over and around chopsticks to make them three-dimensional. Totally unnecessary but I wanted to see if the pieces would dry wavy. Yup. 

6 ounces ginger, rinsed
1-1/2 cups sugar + more for rolling
1-1/2 cups water 

If sugaring, put ½-cup sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

With the back of a paring knife, scrape off all the skin. Rinse the root. Slice the root as thin as possible. Place in a small pot and cover with water by ½-inch. Bring to a boil, cook for ten minutes and remove from heat. Dump out the water, rinse and repeat one more time. Add sugar and measured water back in the same pot. Bring to a low boil. Occasionally wash down the sides of the pot using a pastry brush with cold water.

Cook until the thermometer reads 220 degrees. Remove from heat.

If sugaring, while the syrup is still hot, lift up a few pieces with a fork and drain well, the least amount of syrup is best since you want just a thin layer of sugar to coat each piece. Transfer to your sugar bowl and toss to coat. Shake off any excess and let dry on a piece of waxed paper. Repeat as you wish. Once dry, store the sugared pieces in the sugar you rolled it in at room temperature. They should keep for a few months.

If you’re not sugaring the ginger, leave the syrup and ginger pieces out to cool. Transfer to a container and store in the fridge. It’ll probably keep up to one year. Enjoy!


Mochi, The Medium For Another Wacky Project

My good friend Joy’s birthday was this past weekend and I wanted to make something for her. She’s witnessed and sampled a few of my hairbrained ideas over the years but none were specifically for her. Well, lucky for her she’s just a few miles down the road now and lucky for me, she’s not too hard to gift - especially when it comes to making things that are sweet.

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Candied Kumquat Rosettes

This is the second post in a three part series. To see the first post, click here.

I only needed a couple kumquats for the candied flower project so I had a bunch leftover. Instead of candying just the peel, I decided to candy the entire fruit, turning them into little candied rosettes. Since I was giving these kumquats as a gift, I also needed to figure out a way to package them, a la Mari.

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A Candied Citrus Flower aka A Wacky Project

I admit it; some of my ideas fall on the wacky side. I’ll fixate on a concept, get really really excited about it and make it - jumping in with both feet instead of baby stepping it and doing a trial run. Sometimes I’m super happy and proud of the results. Other times, I’m surprised and a little frustrated that it didn’t work.

Being surrounded by fresh citrus, I had this idea of making a candied citrus flower using different sized fruits to create concentric petal rings. Instead of cutting the peel into individual strips, I’d just cut the peel into thin segments, keeping all the strips attached at the base and then shape/dry the candied fruit on inverted bowls. How long could it take? Meh, 3 hours - tops! It didn’t even cross my mind that it wouldn’t work.

By cutting the petals close to the base, the connection was very narrow. I thought this would net a much more realistic flower. What I didn’t realize was the weight of the simple syrup combined with the fragility of that thin connector would be enough to tear a petal off. Once a petal’s missing, the flower looks broken and wrong. To salvage this project that took not three hours but three days, I just tore all the petals off the lemon, orange, grapefruit, and pomelo flowers and tossed them in sugar. The limes and kumquats remained intact enough to make a mini flower (check back for the follow up to this idea).

The wacky project may not have turned out exactly how I intended but all the candied peels were still tasty. AND, not only do I have fresh squeezed juice in the freezer but I have lots of delicious simple syrups at the ready to make a lightly flavored homemade soda, to drizzle over some fruit or add into a cocktail. I’d say this project was a roaring success. 

If you plan on making more than one fruit flavor, cook them separately to keep the flavors clean. The below recipe is for just one fruit but since it takes a bit of effort, I’d make at least 2 grapefruits, 3 oranges or 4 lemons at a time.

Citrus fruit of your choosing
1-cup sugar plus additional for coating
Cold water

Cut the rind into eight segments, from pole to pole. Carefully peel the rind off. Save the fruit for a different use. Cut the peel segments into thinner pieces, each piece being no more than a quarter-inch wide. Put them in a small pot and cover the pieces in cold water by one inch. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for ten minutes. Drain the water and repeat this step two more times. Drain well.

To candy the peel, you’ll need one cup of water per cup of sugar. You’ll want to cover the peel by half an inch so add a cup of cold water at a time until covered. Add the same number of cups of sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil; do not stir but wash down the sides of the pot with a clean brush dipped in water a few times to ensure there are no sugar crystals sticking to the sides. Lower the heat to medium low and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for 8-12 hours or overnight, covered with a cloth. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to medium low and cook for an additional 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a wire rack on the counter with enough waxed paper beneath it to catch any potential drips. Carefully strain a few pieces at a time; place on wire rack, pith side down, keeping them spaced apart. Let dry for 8 hours.

Pour some sugar to a small bowl. Add a few pieces of candied peel at a time to the bowl and toss to coat. Tamp the excess sugar off. Store the candied peel in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Strain the sugar syrup to remove any stray bits of peel. Store in the fridge. It should be used within one month. Enjoy #2!

Gilding the lily: Dip one end of the candied peel in melted dark chocolate and place in fridge for 10-15 minutes to firm up.

Really gilding the lily: Finely chop some pistachio nuts. After dipping the peel in chocolate, dip it in the chopped pistachios. Chill in fridge for 10-15 minutes or for as long as you can wait. 


Valentine's Day Strawberry-Flavored Mallomars

One of the products I thought about making towards the tail end of my business was a s’mores kit. Who doesn’t love reminiscing about huddling around a beach bonfire or a crackling campfire? Young or old, it’s a primal pleasure.

As Valentine’s Day approached, I planned on making s’mores for Mr. Mari but what I was craving was Mallomars: An all-in-one s’more. It’s a no-fuss, no-muss, no need to get out the blowtorch or broil it in a toaster oven marshmallow treat. I think what I love about Mallomars is its layer cake of textures. Your teeth snap through a thin chocolate-y crust, hit a spongy marshmallow filling and end up chomping through a good crunchy cookie base. Plus truth be told, I’d be the one making the s’mores not Mr. Mari. To make it more Valentine-y, I made these with a strawberry-flavored marshmallow filling. They're kinda like chocolate dipped strawberries but in cookie form - and Mr. Mari loves cookies.

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Amy Blogs Chow & Reverse Holiday S'Mores

A couple years ago, I met Amy Cao at Joy and Meg's New York book signing party for Creative, Inc.. I had heard of Amy's Stupidly Simple Snack videos and after chatting for awhile, she asked if she could come over to do one of her videos - with me! (Wow!) Sure, I said! We made reverse s'mores and because it was so super stupidly simple to make, I threw in a bonus item: Holiday Reverse S'Mores. Since it's the holidays, I thought it would be a perfect time to share this Stupidly Simple Snack. Roll the tape!

(Smilebooth images from Joy's Blog, Inc. New York book signing party at West Elm)


Ho Ho Homemade Candy Dots

A couple months ago, I ran across an image in Martha Stewart magazine and pinned it because it was something I KNEW could be modified, a la Mari-style. It's a grid of dots on a piece of paper. Hmmm... Taking cues from carnival letters and LED grid lights, I knew what I wanted to do: Take the plain ol' grid of dots and spell something!

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