Stowe, Vermont - March 27, 2009
A window into Leigh Williams' workday shows someone who loves her job. She beams, "It's a lot of fun!"
Six years ago, she opened her own candy store, Laughing Moon Chocolates, after learning the ropes from a Massachusetts chocolatier. Williams remembers, "What ended up being the clincher for me is there is nothing else I feel I can do on a day-to-day basis that could bring so much joy to other people."
What brings her joy is trying new recipes. Four months ago she set out to make a better marshmallow. She used to buy marshmallow cream, but figured making her own would fit the Vermont food ethic. Williams chuckles, "It took us some experimenting to make it right."
The ingredients are basic: sugar and corn syrup. The trick is heating it just right, then blending it at a high speed with gelatin to make it spongy. It is smoother, not powdery like mass-manufactured brands can be.
The candy maker explains, "I think it's a traditional Easter treat." In her research, she learned that's because a version of marshmallow used to be made from the roots of a plant that grew in marshes in springtime.
Williams says, "I don't imagine it was much different than our maple syruping tradition, where in the spring, people would make marshmallow."
Williams mixes her vanilla marshmallow with Vermont pear liqueur ganache to fill $3 Easter eggs. To candy connoisseurs, they are a grown-up alternative to those bright marshmallow Peeps. Customer Nick Jacques says, "Those are too sweet for my personal taste. This is very good."
Leigh Williams says her business has not soured in this economy, and she credits that to a focus on fresh, local ingredients. "Really, a commitment to staying small," she explains.
It is a "Made in Vermont" selling point that appeals to Vermonters and tourists alike.
Jack Thurston - WCAX News - Made in Vermont
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