It's a Marshmallow World for 240Sweet
Unless you were in Troop Beverly Hills, you've probably never roasted marshmallows like these around a campfire.
These are marshmallows that you never knew existed – jumbo, pillowy puffs in flavors like maple bacon toffee and saffron pistachio and pumpkin pie.
There's bananas Foster, chai spice, vanilla bean, caramel chocolate chip and dozens more, made in small batches with regional ingredients and flavored in ways that are sometimes familiar and sometimes fancy – for marshmallows, anyway.
These are the marshmallows made by 240sweet, a Columbus company that sells its treats in Indy and elsewhere, and online. Owners Alexa Lemley, the chef, and Samantha Aulick, the sales manager, are life partners who also run a catering business. Their marshmallows have more culinary flair than most, and are often flavored with real food.
Fall brings seasonal flavors the likes of cranberry with white chocolate and – are you ready for this? – turkey with sage dressing. And, yes, Lemley really cooks turkey and uses the juices to flavor the puffs.
The marshmallows are meant to be dunked in hot chocolate or eaten straight from the bag, particularly the varieties that are capped with ingredients like mini chocolate chips, making them a self-contained dessert like a cupcake.
This is s'mores season – marshmallows' time to shine – and Lemley and Aulick know how to take their puffs to the next level around the campfire, too. Graham crackers from the supermarket and Hershey's chocolate bars are a classic combination, but s'mores done 240sweet style call for French lace cookies, Rice Krispies treats and homemade graham crackers to sandwich the marshmallows.
Like many comfort foods that have been given modern makeovers, 240sweet's fluffy treats can veer toward decadent or grown-up or unusual, but they're still marshmallows, a familiar food memory from childhood.
"I think, for the most part, it's a nostalgia thing," Lemley says of her gourmet puffs' popularity.
Most of the main ingredients are sourced within an eight-hour drive of Columbus. The cornstarch is Terre Haute's Clabber Girl, the corn syrup is from Ohio and the beet sugar comes from southern Michigan. Many flavoring ingredients are local to 240sweet. The lavender in some puffs comes from Lemley's mom's backyard in Columbus.
The idea for gourmet marshmallows came about when Lemley and Aulick were looking for ways to market their catering business – Lemley took the helm at her family's company, Lemley's Catering, when her parents retired. The couple decided to package homemade marshmallows to hand out as freebies to potential clients.
"And then one day, people wanted to buy them," Aulick says. Their marshmallow business took off in 2008.
And the name 240sweet? It refers to the 240° temperature that the marshmallow goo – a mixture of sugar, corn syrup and water – reaches during the cooking process before it is mixed with gelatin to firm up.
Now, 240sweet is an Indiana Artisan, a designation given by the state to Indiana producers, of food, art and more, who excel at their craft.
Lemley jokes that their next step is "world domination through marshmallows." For the short term, that means remodeling their downtown Columbus facility to accommodate tours and add some retail space. They don't plan to open stand-alone stores, but they will expand their product offerings to include baking ingredients like bourbon sugar, vanilla extract and bourbon syrup.
In the meantime, Lemley and Aulick will keep dreaming up new flavors for their puffs.
"What I do is think of a flavor that I like in other foods, and turn it into a marshmallow. I love tom ka gai soup, so I started making Thai chile marshmallows," Lemley says. "We're flavoraholics."
THROW A S'MORES PARTY, 240SWEET STYLE
It's s'mores season – celebrate! We asked 240sweet owners Alexa Lemley and Samantha Aulick to share creative ways to use their marshmallows in s'mores, and the results were decadent, to say the least. Gather with friends around a backyard fire pit, get the flames flickering and toast away to your desired char and melty-ness. Use a two-pronged skewer or double up on sticks – 240sweet marshmallows are bigger than mass-produced puffs, and they need extra support.
Here are 240sweet's s'mores recipes to try:
Frenchie: Nutella puff sandwiched between French lace cookies
Sweet and Salty: Salty caramel puff with a dark chocolate bar, sandwiched between sugar cookies
White Out: Roasted coconut puff with a white chocolate bar, sandwiched between slices of pound cake
Classic S'more: Very vanilla bean puff with Chocolate for the Spirit primal bar, sandwiched between graham crackers
Summer Camp: S'more puff sandwiched between crispy rice treats
Feeling Fall: Pumpkin spice puff sandwiched with a white chocolate bar, sandwiched between oatmeal cookies
Pig Out: Bacon maple toffee puff with a dark chocolate bar, sandwiched between sugar cookies
Note: If a fire pit isn't a possibility, set up a portable gas burner, like a camping stove, and toast around that. Lemley and Aulick actually cater s'mores stations at events this way, browning bitesize marshmallow pieces over a small gas burner, then rolling them in graham cracker crumbs, chocolate bits, coconut flakes and other sweets for bite-size s'mores.