Author Archives: paul

About paul

Hi there, Paul here. Here is my LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulhildebrandt

Marshmallow Wreck-It Ralph

The following is my journey to making a large replica of Wreck It Ralph out of marshmallows.

I started making marshmallows

I started making home made marshmallows about a year and half ago.  It’s fun, easy, and you end up with a unique treat.  If you’ve never had homemade marshmallows, you should.  They are waaaay better than store bought, even if you just make vanilla.    If you are having a hard time picturing them let me help you out.  Here is a picture of a few batches I made.  marshamallowsWhat you are seeing is Almond Roca, Red Hot, Peppermint, and Vanilla flavored marshmallows.  Notice the square cut.  This will be important later.  Vanilla is very easy to make and very tasty.  As you branch out they get harder to make.  Red Hot and Peppermint were also pretty easy.  I just crushed up Red Hots or Candy Canes with a hammer and dumped them into a batch of Vanilla while reducing the amount of Vanilla.   Almond Roca flavored was a little harder.  When I crushed them up and dumped them in, the marshmallows went all gooey, dense, and had no fluff.  I ended up scraping all the chocolate off the toffee part of the Almond Roca.  I crushed up the toffee and mixed it in the early stage.  When I poured the marshmallows into a pan to setup I put the crumbled chocolate on top.  Okay, there you go.  Marshmallow can be fun and made at home.

Wreck It Ralph

I work at Walt Disney Animation Studios and had the privilege of working on Wreck It Ralph.  I will just call it Ralph from now on.  You might think that it was a lot of fun and that Disney is an amazing working environment.  You would be right.  Making movies is a lot of work and Disney knows it.  They help break up the long months with distractions to keep us energized.  Near the end of the production our Entertainment and Events department,  wait, let that sink in.  We have an Entertainment and Events department just to take care of us.  Nice.  Okay, so near the end of production they decided to have a fun event where people would make 8-bit artwork based on Ralph.   The 8-bit aspect of Ralph is a throw back to old video game graphics.  The graphics are blocky and color are drawn from a limited pallet.  This blockness made me think of marshmallows.  I knew then what I had to do.  I only had a couple months so I had to work quickly.

Felix in Marshmallows

I knew I needed to realize a Ralph character in marshmallows.  I think most people were doing Ralph’s face.  I wanted to be different.  I thought about doing Vanellope, Calhon, or Felix.  I searched out 8 bit versions of all the characters.  Joe, from Marketing, was really helpful.  We had already collaborated with Joe on making the Fix It Felix Jr. video game so I knew he had a bunch of artwork around.  He gave me the following 8-bit renders: RALF-Main-8bit I thought about Vanellope, she is adorable.   I wanted this marshmallow creation to taste good as well as look good.  After pondering on it for a bit I ruled out her and Calhoon.   I didn’t think their color pallet mapped well to good tasting flavors.  I next tried Felix.  I couldn’t wait to try blueberry marshmallows.  I got some fresh blueberries from the store and was very excited.  I blended them up and was ready to mix them in a batch of marshmallows when I found out the ugly lie about blueberries.  They are not blue.  They are purple.  Darn.  I though long and hard about other things that were blue that tasted good.  Like… hmm… nothing.    Okay, let me look at Ralph again.    What’s orange or red that tastes good?  Everything.  Okay.  I am going with Ralph.

Ralph in Marshmallows

I wanted to do Ralph but that representation wasn’t my favorite it was too off model.   I went to Joe again and he gave me a bunch of images.  I picked my favorite and it’s pictured to the left.
RalphOriginal  I  really like the iconic face and rich 8 bitness of this image.  My inner engineer would want to bring up that it isn’t technically 8 bit but I wasn’t listening to him.  It’s all about the art at this point and that means I can do anything I want.    Now that I had the image I started to clean it up.  I spent tens of hours removing aliasing, slightly simplifying the color palette and making sure everything fit on the grid I imposed on him.   I had a bunch of clean up to do because I decided that it would be more epic if he was 4 feet tall.  I remapped colors until I had only 13 distinct colors.   These colors I would have to map to flavors.  I wanted them to taste good and be representational of their colors. Here is my initial mapping:

  • Skin – Light : Maple Pumpkin
  • Skin – Dark : Chocolate
  • Teeth and Eyes : Vanilla
  • Buckle : Caramel
  • Hair : Pomegranate
  • Nose : Red Hots
  • Pupils & Mouth : Molasses
  • Pants – Dark : Espresso
  • Pants – Light : Milk Chocolate Caramel
  • Pants – Medium : Cherry Dr Pepper
  • Shirt – Light : Orange
  • Shirt – Medium : Pumpkin
  • Shirt – Dark : Dark Chocolate Orange

 

Getting the flavors right

IMG_0293

Iron Marshmallow Chef

 

Before we talk about getting the flavors right we really need to say something about the process of making marshmallows that way I can use shorthand later.   There are several methods but I found a very simple one that works out great.  Vanilla is the first flavor I ever made because it’s simple.  I read lots of recipes online.  Alton Brown’s influenced me the most.  Here is a link to his recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-marshmallows-recipe/index.html

 

I mentally divide making marshmallows into 5 stages:

  1. Prep the gelatin
  2. Firm ball the sugar
  3. Whipping
  4. Setting up
  5. Cutting and Plating

Here is my vanilla recipe and the base of most of my flavors.  I should note that this is a half batch.  I usually make half batches when experimenting or if I just don’t need a full batch of a flavor.

I am about to go though a LOT of recipes.   If you want to fast forward by this section I wouldn’t blame you.   Here is a link to the next section:  Putting Ralph Together

 

Vanilla Marshmallow (Teeth and Eyes)

Simple and good tasting vanilla marshmallows.  Great base for other flavors.  This makes 1/2 batch.
Making time: 30
Cooling Time: 4 Hours
Total time:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water (divided in two)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (240 ml) light (or golden) corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Prep the gelatin
    Pour the gelatin into the mixing bowl.  Gently pour the 1/4 cup of cold water into the bowl.  I stir it gently to make sure all the gelatin is wet.  It needs 3 to 5 mins to set.
  2. Firm ball the sugar
    You may want to read this link: http://www.joyofbaking.com/StagesOfCookedSugar.html It will help you understand what you are doing with the sugar.
    The link talks about rolling it between the thumb and finger.  Don’t do that when it’s hot.  It’s like napalm.  Be VERY CAREFUL with this stage, it’s DANGEROUS.  Got it?
    Mix all ingredients together in a sauce pan.  Slowly bring it to 245 degrees.  You will want a candy thermometer.  It will take a while, that’s okay.  It will be boiling off a lot of the water.  When mixture hits 245 degrees you are ready to pour it into the whipping bowl.
  3. Whipping
    After you pour the sugar mixture on top of the gelatin in the mixing bowl turn on the mixer, slow at first.  You can increase the speed as you go until you are at top speed.  Remember it’s still REALLY hot!  After a while it will get white and fluffy. It may take about 8 minutes.  At that point you can add the vanilla.
    Whip it another couple minutes to make sure the vanilla is mixed in.   You are then ready to pour in the pan you are using for setting up.
  4. Panning for set up
    Spray the setting pan with Pam, including the sides.  Dump the powdered sugar in and move the pan around until coated.  Don’t forget the sides.  Dump out the excess.
    You will need to prep the spatula with some thing non sticking.  I use Pam.   Leave the mixture out to setup for at least 4 hours. I usually leave it overnight.  You will then be ready for cutting.
  5. Cutting and plating
    Prep the cutting surface with powdered sugar.  Don’t be afraid to use too much.  It will stop the marshmallow from sticking to everything.   Pry the edges of the marshmallow loose from the setting pan.  Try to get the bottom of the marshmallow to separate from the pan.  If you keep adding powdered sugar where you remove the marshmallow, it won’t stick again.  Flip the pan over and let the marshmallow come out onto the cutting surface.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the marshmallow into squares.  You may be tempted to just use a knife.  You will be much happier if you use a pizza cutter.  Also, it helps to coat the pizza cutter blade with Pam.  After you get some squares cut make sure and dip all sides of the bite sized marshmallow squares in powdered sugar and put on the serving plate.

We just went though in detail how to make vanilla marshmallows I don’t plan to do that for each flavor.  What follows will mostly be the variations on this recipe. These are not meant to be stand alone recipes as they are using shorthand assuming you’ve already read this one.

 Maple Pumpkin (Skin – Light)

I first thought for the skin color was maple but it wasn’t orange enough.  I then thought pumpkin.  I also thought rum.  Maple Pumpkin Rum.  Nah, keep it simple, just Maple Pumpkin.  I thought about using maple extract but I really wanted the main flavor to be rich.  I decided to use maple syrup instead of sugar.  It smells wonderful.  I tried zesting a pumpkin but that was a fail.  I ended up folding in Pumpkin filling with pumpkin pie spices.  It took several batches but I am very happy with the flavor and texture.  This makes a full batch.

Ingredients

  • 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups real maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple extract (for more maple kick)
  • 4 drop red food coloring (to get the proper skin tone color)

Instructions

  1. Prep the gelatin : Combine the gelatin with the water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar : Heat maple and salt to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Whipping : Start whipping and slowly increase whipping speed until it’s on it’s top speed.  While that is going put the pumpkin and spices in a separate bowl and mix well.  After the marshmallows have been whipping for 8 minutes or when the sugar mixture turns white fold in the pie mixture.  Also, add the vanilla, maple extract, and food coloring.   Put back in the mixer and continue until it’s thoroughly mixed in.  It should take a couple more minutes on high.
  4. Pan and plate: Same as Vanilla.

Chocolate (Skin – Dark)

Chocolate marshmallows were easy and tasty.  I nailed it the first time.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup Hershey’s syrup
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tbsp chocolate powder
  • 4 tbsp powder sugar

Directions

  1. Prep the gelatin:  Combine the gelatin with the cold water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar:  Mix together the sugar, Hershey’s syrup, corn syrup, and salt.  Heat slowly to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Whipping:  Whip normally.  Mix about 10 minutes or until fluffy
  4. Panning and Setting up:  Mix together chocolate power and powdered sugar evenly.   We need to end up with a sweet chocolate powder.   Coat the pan with Pam and sprinkle on the sugar cocoa mix.  Save some for cutting and plating.
  5. Cutting and Plating:  When plating use some of the chocolate powder you mixed up in the previous step and cover all the sides.

Caramel (Buckle)

Carmel took me 4 batches to get right.  I tried different things including making it with condensed milk.  This one was the best of the 4.  They still are not a fluffy as I would want but they taste yummy.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin

Directions

  1. Prep the gelatin:  Combine the gelatin with the cold water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar:  I use Craft caramel squares and microwave them in a measuring cup,  stirring occasionally until they are all melted. At the same time as you melting the caramel mix together the water, sugar, salt, and slowly heat them.  When the caramel is melted pour it in the already warm sugar mixture stirring it as you do. Heat slowly to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Whipping:  Whip normally.  Mix about 10 minutes or until fluffy
  4. Panning and Setting up:  Prep the pan normally with Pam and powdered sugar.  Then sprinkle about 5 finely crushed Werther’s Original Caramel candies in the pan.   To crush the candy I put them in a thick sandwich bag and banged them with a hammer on the counter.  My boys loved to help doing this part.  Do not go crazy though because you can rip the bag apart.
  5. Cutting and Plating:  Use the other half of the crushed Werther’s in this stage.   When plating you should press the edges of the marshmallow squares in a mixture of powdered sugar and crushed Werther’s candy.

Pomegranate (Hair)

I had a lot of the problems on this one.  One problem was getting enough pomegranate taste.   I wanted it strong but that much juice made them dense.  In the end a 3-1 reduction in the pomegranate juice did the trick.  They are still dense so there is room for improvement.  They are tangy so, caveat emptor.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup reduced pomograte 3-1 reduction
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
  • 10 drops red food coloring (to more closely match Ralphs hair color)
  • 4 tbsp powder sugar

Directions

  1. Prep the gelatin:  Combine the gelatin with the cold water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar:  The pomegranate was the hard part.  Seeded a large pomegranate and put the seeds in a blender.  Strain the result and use that juice for reduction.  Just to be clear that 1/4 cup is AFTER the reduction. Mix together the pomegranate, sugar, salt, and corn syrup.  Heat slowly to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Whipping:  Whip for about 8 minutes then put in the vanilla and food coloring.  Mix a couple minutes more or until fluffy
  4. Pan and plate: Same as Vanilla.

Red Hots (Nose)

I’ve done these before and they are always a big win.   The sweet and hot are a pleaser.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed red hots
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp of coarsely crushed red hots added during mix .  Not finely crushed, just pull these off the top of pile of finely crushed one.
  • 2 tsp of finely crushed red hots.
  • 4 tbsp powder sugar

Directions

  1. Prep the gelatin:  Combine the gelatin with the cold water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar:   I crushed the red hots by putting them in a sandwich bag and beating them with a hammer.  It’s hard to melt the red hots so the more you crush them the better.  Mix together the water, sugar, salt, corn syrup, and finely crushed red hots.  Heat slowly to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Whipping:  Whip for about 8 minutes then put in the vanilla and crushed red hots.  Mix a couple minutes more or until fluffy
  4. Panning and Setting up:  Prep the pan normally with Pam and powdered sugar.
  5. Cutting and Plating:  When plating you should press the edges of the marshmallow squares in a mixture of powdered sugar and sprinkle on the finely crushed red hots on top.

Black Licorice – changed from Molasses (Pupils & Mouth)

I tried to use Molasses.  I bought Blackstrap Molasses and tasted it.  I didn’t like it at all.  I decided to switch to black licorice.  There can be medical problems if you consume lots of black licorice.  I used anise to be safe.  The only weird thing about this batch is the amount of black cake dye I had to use to make a black marshmallow.  White marshmallows that taste like black licorice are weird.  Grey marshmallows just look yucky.   I used a ton of black licorice frosting dye and it came out right.  It will stain your mouth black though.   These have a strong taste.  I actually doubled the amount of anise I used with the final batch.  I figure people that don’t like black licorice will not like these anyway and the people that like it, want a stronger flavor.  I was right.  People are still asking me to make batches for them.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tsp anise extract
  • Black icing dye
  • 4 tbsp powder sugar

Directions

  1. Prep the gelatin:  Combine the gelatin with the cold water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar:   Mix together the water, sugar, salt, corn syrup, milk, and anise.  Heat slowly to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Whipping:  Whip for about 8 minutes then put some black icing dye.  You will need a lot of black icing dye.  Keep putting it in until you think it’s dark enough.  I use icing dye instead of food coloring because it’s more potent.  You get more color and less liquid with the icing dye.  The liquid in the food coloring makes the marshmallow denser and we don’t want that.  Mix a couple minutes more or until fluffy.
  4. Pan and plate: Same as Vanilla.

 

Nutella – changed from Espresso (Pants – Dark)

I thought I was so smart and trendy to make espresso marshmallows.  It was a huge mistake.  I tried several batches and learned some lessons.  First off, I hate coffee so I could even taste them to see if the taste was right.  I had my wife taste them.  She said they were okay.  But the hard part is everyone likes their coffee differently.  The means if I make it good for her it might not be good for the next person.  Plus, I hate coffee so I couldn’t work by taste.   I bailed on espresso.  I picked something else dark brown, Nutella.  This was a big win.  It only took me a couple batches to get them right.  While I do use actual Nutella in them I need a stronger flavor so I mixed in hazelnut and cocoa.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1.5 tsp hazelnut extract
  • 4 tbsp Ghirardelli cocoa powder
  • 1/8 cup Nutella
  • ton of brown icing dye
  • 4 tbsp powder sugar
  • 4 tbsp Ghirardelli cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Prep the gelatin:  Combine the gelatin with the cold water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar:    Mix together the water, sugar, corn syrup, hazelnut extract, and cocoa powder.  Heat slowly to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Whipping:  Whip for about 8 minutes then fold in the Nutella and add the brown icing dye.  You will need a lot of brown icing dye.  Keep putting it in until you think it’s dark enough.  I use icing dye instead of food coloring because it’s more potent.  You get more color and less liquid with the icing dye.  The liquid in the food coloring makes the marshmallow denser and we don’t want that.  Mix a couple minutes more or until fluffy.
  4. Panning and Setting up:  Mix together chocolate power and powdered sugar evenly.   We need to end up with a sweet chocolate powder.   Coat the pan with Pam and sprinkle on the sugar cocoa mix.  Save some for cutting and plating.
  5. Cutting and Plating:  When plating use some of the chocolate powder you mixed up in the previous step and cover all the sides.

 

Milk Chocolate Caramel (Pants – Light)

This one was pretty simple.  I just combined the milk chocolate and caramel recipes.   The recipie I guessed at for the batch I made was good. I kept that one.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup melted carmel squares
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Mix powdered sugar and cocoa evenly
  • 5 Worthers crushed to dust

Directions

  1. Prep the gelatin:  Combine the gelatin with the cold water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar:  I use Craft caramel squares and microwave them in a measuring cup,  stirring occasionally until they are all melted. At the same time as you melting the caramel mix together the water, sugar, salt, corn syrup, cocoa powder, and slowly heat them.  When the caramel is melted pour it in the already warm sugar mixture stirring it as you do. Heat slowly to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Whipping:  Whip normally.  Mix about 10 minutes or until fluffy
  4. Panning and Plating:  Mix equal part powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Combine the mixture with 5 finely crushed Worther’s Original Caramel candies.  The pan and plate normally using this mixture instead of powdered sugar.

Cherry Dr Pepper (Pants – Medium)

I think these were the most interesting flavor, covers the most area, and without a doubt the hardest to get right.  I thought it was going to be a slam dunk but it took me over 8 batches to get it right.  There were even a couple bottles of Cherry Dr Pepper Dessert Topper that I tried to bring to the hard crack stage of sugar so I could use it like hard candy.  That failed completely.  Don’t do that.  Below is what worked the best.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 2 forks of copper icing color
  • 1 fork of black icing color

Directions

  1. Prep the gelatin:  Combine the gelatin with the cold water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar:  Mix together the water, sugar, salt, corn syrup, Cherry Dr Pepper Dessert Topper, crushed cherry lifesaver, and Dr Pepper Oil.  Heat slowly to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.  Lifesavers don’t melt well so make sure and give it a good crushing.
  3. Whipping:  Normally whipping but just before finish add some color.  Most recipes say to use a toothpick to add it but that was too small of a measurement.  Used a salad fork for dipping in the icing color.
  4. Pan and plate: Same as Vanilla.

Orange Cream – changed from Orange (Shirt – Light)

I was going to do plain orange marshmallow but the more I thought of it orange cream seemed like a better taste.  Plus my sister-in-law, Venus, loves 50-50 bars so I figure I would try this out.   I am glad I did.  I think my biggest lesson in this one was to not be too zealous in zesting the orange.  If you get any of the white (pith) of the orange it’s very bitter.  When zesting take your time and you will end up with a sweeter marshmallow.  This is based on a recipe I found on the Food Network web site.  This is a half batch.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp zested orange in (1 orange)
  • 4 drops red food coloring
  • 4 drops yellow food coloring
  • 1 tbsp zested orange mixed with powdered sugar (1 orange)

Directions

  1. Prep the gelatin:  Combine the gelatin with the cold water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar:  Mix together the water, milk, and sugar.  Heat slowly to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Whipping:  Whip for about 8 minutes then mix in he vanilla, 1 tbsp zested orange and food coloring.   Mix a couple minutes more or until fluffy.
  4. Panning and Plating:  Normal panning and plating except instead of powdered sugar you use a mixture of powdered and the zested orange.

Pumpkin Pie – changed from Pumpkin (Shirt – Medium)

I tried to do pumpkin flavor by zesting a pumpkin.  I though it was original but now I know why others haven’t done it.  I change from Pumpkin to Pumpkin Pie based on a recipe I found on the Taste and Tell blog.  This is probably my favorite of all I made.  It tastes just like a pumpkin pie but lighter.  Yum.  This is a half batch.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope and 1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/3 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 drop red food coloring
  • 2 drop yellow food coloring
  • 4 Graham Crackers (finely crushed)

Directions

  1. Prep the gelatin:  Combine the gelatin with the cold water in mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Firm ball the sugar:  Mix together the water, corn syrup, sugar and salt.  Heat slowly to 245 then carefully pour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Whipping:  In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Mix well.   When whipping is almost done fold in the pumpkin pie mix.  At the same time you can add the food coloring.
  4. Panning and Setting up:  Normal panning and plating except instead of powered sugar use the crumbs of two graham crackers.   I find it’s much easier to get the graham crackers into small crumbs using a food processor/blender
  5. Cutting and PlatingLay a piece of waxed paper on the counter and spread out about half of the crumbs. Turn the marshmallow pan over onto the crumbs this will get them nicely embed into the top.  You can then cut normally.  Remember to dip each side in the graham crackers crumbs

Dark Chocolate Orange (Shirt – Dark)

Looks like I lost this recipe   :-(    I thought I had it but it was just a duplicate of the Orange Cream one.  I probably made a cut a paste error when I was recording my work.  I am pretty sure I added some Ghirardelli cocoa powder to the firm ball stage.  I probably equally mixed powdered sugar with Ghirardelli cocoa powder for panning and plating them.

That’s it
That’s all the recipes.  If you think that was a lot to scroll past I assure you it was a lot to do.    It was months worth of work getting the flavors right.  Much sugar was consumed and a diet postponed.  In the end I had the recipes I needed.

 

Putting Ralph Together

Now all that’s left is just making the marshmallows, plating them, and taking the finished art to work.  I got the printout from Tom at work and pinned it to a half size storyboard.  Because I didn’t want the marshmallow to stick to the paper I covered it with wax paper.  Picture below.

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I wanted to make sure I made enough of each batch so I counted all the squares (pixels).   Here is the worksheet I used:

Squares Half Batches Location Flavor Recipe Done
90 1 Shirt, Dark Dark Chocolate Orange Yes Yes
168 2 Shirt, Medium Pumpkin Yes Yes
76 1 Shirt, Light Orange Yes Yes
576 4 Pants, Medium Cherry Dr Pepper Yes Yes
94 1 Pants, Light Milk Choc Carmel Yes Yes
22 1 Pants, Dark Nutella Yes Yes
8 1 Pupils & Mouth Black Licorice Yes Yes
6 1 Nose Red Hots Yes Yes
88 1 Hair Pomegranate Yes Yes
18 1 Buckle Caramel Yes Yes
25 1 Teeth & Eyes Vanilla Yes Yes
686 5 Skin, Light Maple Pumpkin Yes Yes
156 2 Skin, Dark Chocolate Yes Yes

I used this to make sure I had all my flavors and to figure out how may of each I needed.   It also let me track if I had the recipe nailed down and if I already made them.

I have a problem now.  I know how long it takes to make marshmallows.  I also know that they are just not as tasty if they are old.  You really have a two day window for optimum taste.  Hmm…. that is a lot of marshamallow to make in two days, cut, and assemble in the shape of Ralph.  I needed help.  (not mental help… but maybe)    What I needed was a sous-chef.  Someone that loves to bake, willing and able to work long hours, deal with me, and is really cute.  The ablity to work long hours ruled out my wife.  She has those pesky kids that make demands.  They want to eat and such.  It never ends.  There was really only one logical choice for this position.  My niece Deona.  I would have to free her from college and he could be tricky.  I sweet talked he with “Ya, wanna take a couple days off classes and make marshmallows with me?”  She said “Okay.”  I love her.  Below is an action shot of her cutting up some maple pumpkin marshmallows.  It was a couple of grueling 16 hour days making marshmallows.

IMG_2160    711638_2891337739969_516270494_n

As you can see powder sugar ends up everywhere.  I concentrated on making them while she worked on cutting and assembling Ralph. You will notice that there are a lot of bent up aluminum pans.  That was another problem I encountered.  I didn’t have enough baking pans.  Luckly the alumninum pans are cheap at the market.  It also allowed me to bend them smaller than 8×8.  The pan for a full batch is 9×13 and a half batch is 8×8.  Wait… what!?  That’s insanity.  9×13=117sq inches whereas 8×8=64sq inches.  This would mean that my half batch marshmallows would be a little shorter as it would have to cover more surface area.  Inconceiveable.  I used half batch pans but bent them to be 8x7ish so it would be a better half batch.

While assembling them I noticed that the colors were all dulled because of the powdered sugar on top of them.  Unacceptable.  I know that water dissolves sugar so I tried lightly brushing on water with a paint brush to dissolve the top coat of sugar.  It worked great.  My lovely wife pitched in and painted all the placed squares with water to clarify the color.

861571_2891337699968_943016212_n  862120_2891337619966_981671015_n   

Okay, fast forward many hours and it’s done!   All I have to do it put it in the back of the van and take it to work. Um… exactly how do I get it thought the door?  I need to tilt it sideways without dumping it on the floor.  I decided to pulled wax paper tight over it and used staples to hold down the paper.  It made me think of Han Solo in carbonite.

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After a tense moment when I turned it sideways to take it though the door all was well.  I put it in the back of the van and took it to work.

 

Ralph and Rich

Here is the final product at work.

IMG_2213

It was displayed in the Caffeine Patch, the place where we get our coffee.  The name is a nod to Meet the Robinsons.   It was on display all day and people came by and tasted.  I had lots of spare marshmallows and let people eat those before we dove into the main picture.  I sat up there for a few hours and explained the flavors to people.  There were many picture taken for Facebook uploads.  It was very satisfying.

Rich Moore, the director of Wreck It Ralph and a really fun guy, came by for a bite.

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Rich made Wreck it Ralph a very fun movie to make and see.  Thanks Rich!

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Thanks so much for coming with me on this journey.

The Energy Detective : Unbox and Install

After reading about The Energy Detective (TED) on the green tips page at work I decided to research it further.

The device gives you real time feed back on energy consumption.  With this information it helps you manage your energy consumption.  My energy bill can get pretty high, it was $400 last summer, so I decided I needed to do something.  The device was $140 off their web site.  I ordered it and here is what I got:


TED Unboxed

* The internal unit
* The external transmitter
* The inductive couplers (clamp looking things)
* Instruction book
* Other stuff I don’t care about

I read though the booklet before the install.  I didn’t think I needed an electrician to do the install and I didn’t want to spend the money.   It actually wasn’t that bad.  I shut off my external circuit breaker and took the cover off.


TED External Install Full 

I didn’t have room to hook up the couplers after the meter so I hooked them up before.  I may get grief about this from Edison, we will see.   I then hooked the neutral up to the grounding bar.  The hot end I put with another wire on a breaker.  A better picture of the breaker hookup is here:


TED External Install CB Hookup

After I turned the power on the LED on the transmitter started flashing.  I noted the transmitters house code and went inside.   I then plugged in the unit set the house code and it’s working fine.


TED Internal Install

I am consuming .38KW right now.  I need to do more setup and talk about my observations using it but that’s another blog post.

Look in the sky!

I was in Florida for the Agile Development Practices Conference.  The conference was good and I learn a lot about Agile development.  The last day of the conference there was a shuttle launch.  Several of us, (Mickey, Dimitri, and Vidus) took the hour drive there.  Mickey had friends, Mart and Linda,  in the area.  We met them at a park on the water and watched the launch.

Shuttle Launch

The launch was fun but the 4 hour drive back to the hotel was a killer.

Wireless Digital Photo Frame

I just purchased the Samsung SPF-83V 8-Inch Wireless Digital Photo Frame for my parents.
picture frame
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000YA1Z14
Pros:

  • Samsung makes a good looking LCD. The 800×600 looks good on an 8inch LCD.
  • Auto on/off times
  • The time is auto set off the internet.
  • Has a bunch of features like sound which I don’t care about now but might later.
  • It works great and my parents love it.
  • No monthly fee for service.
  • Worked easily with a WAP protected router.

Cons:

  • A motion sensor of some type would be nice.
  • The frame border is a little glossy for my taste.
  • The right/left navigation buttons are backwards but they are only used in setup.
  • Don’t expect your parents to be able to set it up. It wasn’t intuitive and I actually know computers.
  • I wouldn’t be offended if it were less expensive.

I decided to go with a third party RSS feed provider, Frame Channel (http://www.framechannel.com/),
Frame Channel
They specialize in providing feeds to internet picture frames.
Pros:

  • Easy to work with web interface
  • Auto resizes picture you upload
  • Has a email address attached to the account so you can send email with a picture attached and it will show it.
  • The email have to come from approve sources. (I was worried about porn spam, that would have been awkward.)
  • The have lots of channels like weather, sports, bible quotes, trivial and so on.

Cons:

  • Their channels have a small ad strip on them. It’s not hideous but well close. I only left the weather and bible quotes on for my parents because they like those the most.

They’ve only had it one week but they are VERY happy with it. We were out on the lake on their boat and I snapped a shot of my boys with the iphone and mailed it to the picture frames address. When we got back to their house an hour later we saw the picture on the frame. It actually look pretty good for a camera phone photo.

New BOLT Trailer is out with full chase scene

bolt pixWe all worked very hard on BOLT and are VERY proud of it.  You should really check out the new BOLT trailers on Apple.  If you have the bandwidth check out the 1080p HD version of the chase trailer.  BOLT will be released in the new Disney 3D and is worth seeing at the theater.  Don’t think of the old red/blue glasses 3D.  This uses the dark lens circular polarization glasses.  It looks very good, you gotta see it.

Pythoscope

I had an idea a while ago about a program to automatically create unit tests for Python code.  I talked it over with Titus Brown from the SoCal Python Interest Group and we both agreed it was a good idea.  We also both agreed it would be a lot of work and neither of us had the time.  I got the idea of getting of asking Disney to hire and intern to take a crack at it.  We looked for a while and then Titus posted the opening on the Testing in Python mailing list.  Michal Kwaitkowski responded with interest.   Getting him here from Poland was a bit of a hassle but well worth it.  The first week he was here we got http://pythoscope.org up and running.

Here is the logo we had a Disney artist draw for it.

It’s of Michal using pythoscope on a legacy python.  :)

Last week we hit a milestone.   We released 0.3 that includes dynamic as well as static analysis of the code before creating unit tests.  Michal presented pythoscope to the SoCal Python Interest Group that I hosted at Disney.  To thank him Disney provided a cake with the pythoscope logo for dessert.

Paul and Michal with Cake

Bubbles and Smoke

I love bubbles. Last Fathers Day they got me a Chauvet B-550 Bubble King. It was our 4th bubble machine. We tried the cheaper plastic ones but they kept breaking and didn’t put out very many bubbles. We are still experimenting with different bubble solutions but whatever we try this machine puts out a ton of bubbles.So after playing with it for a while I had an idea. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could make bubbles with smoke in them? I asked at work if anyone had a smoke machine I could borrow and sure enough Bruce had one in his office. First thing I gathered all the materials.

Here are my partners in crime.Our first test we tried to make smoke in bubbles with Dry Ice. It didn’t turn out very good. The smoke from Dry Ice dissipated too quickly. It was then we thought of trying the smoke machine. After I borrowed the smoke machine from Bruce I tried it out in my house. Sure enough my smoke detector works. No more testing inside. Hence you see our outdoor setup.I started testing by making sure the Bubble King would work with the new cheap bubble solution I am trying.It works but the bubbles are a little smaller than the last solution I tried. The video is of the smoke machine blowing into the bubble machine to make smoke bubbles.

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Later I tried to make large bubble with small bubbles inside them. Here is a picture of that.I then went on to try to feed the smoke though the bubble machine and make a large smoke bubble with bubbles inside of it.The large smoke bubbles are cool because when they pop you are left in a large cloud of smoke. As show by Jordan from next door. The smoke is vanilla scented so it’s not a bad thing to be in a cloud of it.I need to clean up how I am doing video links on the blog but all in all I am happy with the bubble experiment.

Stan Lee gives us a talk

Stan Lee came to Disney and gave a lunch time lecture. He is amazing. He’s 85 now and starting a new company, POW entertainment. POW Logo He talked about his starting in the business. He said that he almost felt bad after he was in if for a while. There were all these people that live around him that did real things such as plumbers and doctors and all he did was make comic books. It then hit him that people spend a large portion of their money on entertainment. It must be important to them. He WAS doing something that was important to people. I found this inspiring especially working in the entertainment industry.

This picture is him sitting at the signing table after his talk.
Stan Lee Image

He has an amazing amount of energy and makes fun of how popular he has become. He thought all the movies that people are making about the character he created are great. Basically a bunch of talented people make cool movies and he get credit and gets a cameo in the movie. He said it’s a lot of fun to go on set and be treated like a star.

Siggraph 2007

Siggraph 2007

I took the day off Tuesday and drove down to San Diego to see the exhibits at Siggraph 2007. It wasn’t as big as it has been in the past but still a decent size. The Disney Animation booth DAS Booth was very well done with a few demo stations out front so the people staffing the booth could show off the art and technology of Meet the Robinsons. They also had a small 3D theater in the booth to show off the nice job the MTR team did on the 3D look.

Laika had a nice booth there and I talked with them for a while. Coraline project looks good. I talked to Michael Kuehn and he said the studio just bought 30 aches to build on. We talked for while and he is really loving Portland. His house has a river on one side and a vineyard on the other. He said the quality of life was though the roof.

I also went though the Emerging Technologies area. The two high points for me were seeing the a water fountain that you could play like a piano. Water Piano The neat thing is that it’s actually in production and they are selling it to water parks. The company is Funtain. Sure I want one for my backyard but they are not cheap. The guys said about the cost of a nice piano.

The other thing of note was the OLPC or I guess it’s called the XO now. OLPCVery little computer. I did stress little? Check out my hand next to the keyboard. hand next to OLPCI know it’s for kids but I thought that i might be able to use it too. The keys were soo close together it was very hard to type. Still though if they made it available I would buy one from my son.