By Jamie Rogers (Please note: This was published under the incorrect author’s name in Chester County Cuisine and Nightlife).
A roaring fire and marshmallows. This combination could mean a perfect summer night with s’mores or a cozy winter night at home with a cup of cocoa. The common denominator is Mark Leone and his Marksmallows.
So, how did this government stiff become the marshmallow man? It all started when Leone’s foodie passions got the best of him last summer
and challenged his creativity.
“I wanted to find an interesting spin on dessert when my wife, Melina, and I hosted a barbecue,” explains Leone. “I thought s’mores would be
good, but store-bought marshmallows wouldn’t cut it.”
Leone pulled a back issue of Gourmet magazine for the recipe, which consisted of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and vanilla extract. The ingredients are blended, whipped and poured into a mold, popped out, then cut into cubes.
And the guests wanted, well, some more. Word spread when friends-of-friends started requesting the spongey treats and his little side project of
Marksmallows took off.
He tapped friends to help develop a logo and his tagline, which says it all: A billowy, pillowy confection. Squared.
Marksmallows and Leone will have you rethinking the marshmallow—light as air, simply sweet and great to eat alone or as a complement to hot
He perfected his recipe out of his Exton home, including a wide variety flavors such as classic vanilla, peppermint, butterscotch, strawberry, banana, coconut, almond, coffee and, his newest flavor in time for the holiday season, pecan pie.
“Coconut,” Leone responds to the most popular flavor. “Everyone loves the coconut. I’ve started toasting the coconut and that adds a real
depth to the marshmallow.”
Last Christmas, the Leone family bestowed to friends gifts of mason jars filled with vanilla and peppermint marshmallows, along with cocoa mix. He suggests that pastel-colored strawberry and banana marshmallows would make great baby shower favors, while a tray filled with the gamut of flavors would make an imaginative dessert for children’s parties.
His 5-year-old son, Matteo, is his sous chef.
“Sometimes I’ll make them as part of a bribe for his eating his brussell sprouts, or as his reward for not terrorizing his
kindergarten classmates,” explains the New Jersey-raised Leone. “Of course, he is the official ‘Whisk Attachment Licker.’”
Like his treats, Leone himself is a sponge as a serial food magazine subscriber, a chef-stalker and an early adopter of the Food Network.
“After a meal at Vetri in Philadelphia, I flagged down the chef/owner Marc Vetri and told him that I wanted to work for him.” Leone goes on
to share that Chef Jeff Michaud, the Executive Chef and part-owner of Osteria in Philadelphia, called him a few weeks later to invite him down. One night a week, for 6 months, Leone apprenticed under Michaud, keeping a journal of the ups and downs of a budding chef in one of the city’s most highly acclaimed restaurants. “It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.”
But, now his focus is on busy holiday season, his newborn son, Mason, and trying to hone a chocolate Marksmallow.
“There is something in the chocolate that affects the marshmallows, but I’m working on it.”
Visit www.marksmallows.com for more information [AU: website says still under production – no additional information offered].
Marksmallows sell for $14.95 for a batch of 50