@JenniferReese Making at home vs. store bought: Fudge, Mock Apple Pie, Marshmallows

December 17, 2011

Listening to Jennifer Reese being interviewed on NPR recently inspired me to share some of my own beloved and unique family recipes. Reese is the author of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, “a chronicle of [her] trial-and-error odyssey to figure out which foods are worth the effort of making yourself, and which foods you should just buy right off the grocery shelf.” There is a link to the interview, and a copy of her “surprisingly simple make-your-own-marshmallow process” at the bottom of this post.

For my recipes, if you have never tried Faux Apple Pie or Velveeta Fudge, you are in for a treat! My grandparents have generously offered to share these Evans’ signature recipes with Three Point Spark readers. They are delicious and fun to surprise guests with – “you made this from what?!” Enjoy!



from the kitchen/culinary laboratory of CC & TCF Evans, 2011


Unbaked pie shells for a double-crust pie

2-1/2 cups white sugar

3-12 cups water

5 teaspoons cream of tartar

50 Ritz Crackers

2 tablespoons brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter

Boil the white sugar, water and cream of tartar for 8 minutes without stirring.

Drop in whole Ritz Crackers (one for each state of the Union).

Continue boiling for 2 minutes without stirring.

Remove from stove and allow to cool while making the pie crust.

Gently spoon cracker mixture into unbaked pie shell, being careful that   some of the crackers should hold their shape.

Mix brown sugar and spices and sprinkle over cracker mixture.

Dot with butter.  Add top crust and vent (slash or prick) and bake for 20 minutes in preheated 450 degree oven.



from the kitchen/culinary laboratory of CC & TCF Evans, 2011

To a 3-quart microwave-safe mixing bowl, add ¾ lbs. cubed Velveeta Cheese plus 2 sticks Parkay Margarine plus 6 squares Bakers Unsweetened Chocolate plus 2 Tablespoons corn syrup.

Heat in microwave on defrost setting for 10 minutes, stirring intermittently to melt the chocolate and blend all ingredients, and returning to the microwave as necessary.  Remove blended ingredients from microwave.

Add gradually with stirring, 2 pounds Powdered Sugar; then 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Grease a 7 x 10 inch pan and line with waxed paper.  Pour mixture into pan and smooth surface with a spatula.

Refrigerate 2 hours, cut into squares.  Candy may be kept at room temperature.

NPR interview with author/food explorer Jennifer Reese:


Marshmallows (a la Jenner Reese)

Like most Americans, I grew up thinking a marshmallow was a stiff, eraser-like confection, nominally edible, used in school construction projects involving toothpicks or dropped in hot chocolate. Neither candy nor cookie, a marshmallow was a gummy droid, entirely artificial and not all that enticing. My kids used to eat them only when there was nothing sweet left in the cupboard except raisins. To concoct a marshmallow at home seemed impossible. And to concoct at home a marshmallow that resembles a Kraft Jet-Puffed may be impossible.

After you have tasted a sugar-white homemade marshmallow you will not care. Homemade marshmallows are fairy food, pillowy, quivering and soft.

Make it or buy it? Make it.

Hassle: Negligible, provided you have a mixer (a hand-held mixer is fine if you’re strong and patient) and a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, buy one. Cheap and useful.

Cost comparison: The most basic homemade marshmallow costs 10 cents. Kraft Jet- Puffed marshmallows: 4 cents apiece. On the other hand, high-end marshmallows like the Whole Foods brand: 50 cents.

Makes 36 marshmallows

Three 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a tiny saucepan, over low heat, dissolve the gelatin in 7 tablespoons of water. It will be pale beige and viscous. Turn off the heat.

In a larger saucepan, heat the granulated sugar and corn syrup with 1/2 cup water.

Bring to a boil, stirring until dissolved. Let it boil until it registers 265 F on a candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a mixer, begin whisking the egg whites. Beat until firm and glossy. As soon as the sugar syrup registers 265 F, begin pouring it in a slow steady stream into the egg whites, beating constantly. Add the gelatin and continue beating. When you start, the hot liquid will slosh around the bowl and you will think it is hopeless; by the time you are done, the mixture will have swollen into a luxuriant white cloud. Whisk until the bowl is cool to the touch.

Whisk in the vanilla.

Lightly grease a rimmed cookie sheet. Mix together the cornstarch and confectioner’s sugar and sift half onto the cookie sheet. You want a really generous bed of powder. On top of this, spread the marshmallow and smooth the top. Let sit overnight.

In the morning, cut the marshmallows into 36 pieces with a sharp knife. If they stick, dip the knife in water. (Damp scissors can also help with the job.) Toss the marshmallows in the leftover powder; you want all the exposed sides of the marshmallows to be lightly coated in powder, which will keep them from sticking to each other.

Store in a cookie tin or resealable plastic bag. They keep indefinitely, though they become crustier and less appealing after a week or so.

Excerpted from Make The Bread, Buy The Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch — 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods by Jennifer Reese. Copyright 2011 by Jennifer Reese. Published by Free Press.


Make the Bread, Buy the Butter



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