Pflugerville residents looking for a marshmallow fix can now rest assured — Murphy’s Mellows has you covered.
The self-proclaimed “cottage business” started by Pflugerville resident Hallie Rock has been churning out tasty creations at farmers markets around the Austin area for the better part of a year now. Rock’s unique twist on an old favorite — with flavors such as ever-popular key lime, mint chip, vanilla latte and countless others — has struck a chord with local sweet-toothers.
The business, which is run out of Rock’s home in Pflugerville — for now, at least — produces seasonal favorites like caramel apple for the winter and fall, as well as tried-and-true staples like vanilla, lemon and chocolate swirl. Murphy’s Mellows also specializes in S’mores in a Jar, which according to the Murphy’s Mellows website (murphysmellows.com) features a “graham cracker base, a chocolate ganache, then a layer of gourmet vanilla marshmallow with a sprinkling of graham cracker on top.”
Murphy‘s Mellows appeared in its first farmers’ market September last year. It was a learning experience, to say the least.
“We hadn’t figured out how to set up the tent beforehand,” Rock said. “So we had to have other people help us get the thing put up. Once we got it set out, it was in the middle of bright sunlight. The first person to try a sample opened it up and it ripped. We learned that we can’t put our goodies right in the sun.”
Much of the Murphy’s Mellows journey has been a learning experience. Several years ago, while living in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and working full-time, Rock’s kidneys failed. That came as a shock, considering she had “always been a healthy person,” as she put it. Her stroke of misfortune left her unable to work, which led to a lot of downtime spent idling around the house.
“I’m not good with not working,” she said. “I get bored easily.”
So when her mother asked what she wanted for Christmas, Rock mentioned a food mixer on a whim. Once she got it, though, she was unsure of exactly what to do with it. So she started researching online and stumbled across Alton Brown’s recipe for vanilla marshmallows and decided to give it a try.
“I thought it would be fun,” she said. “I could give them out to friends for Christmas. So I made my first batch and it turned out well. For a while I was just doing it for fun, and giving them away as gifts.”
While experimenting with marshmallow-making, Rock was placed on the transplant list. She and her husband, Owen, bounced around the idea of starting a marshmallow business, but Rock was “very sick and didn’t have the energy to do it.”
Around that same time, Rock’s son, Dylan, was given an opportunity to play baseball in Europe. Rock told him that if he raised half the money, she and her husband would put up the other half. Her son ended up raising $1,000 by selling Rock’s marshmallows at school.
“At least we knew we had a market with the kids,” Rock said.
Rock and her family then moved to Houston, where she received her much-awaited transplant. Not long after that, Owen lost his job. Like Rock, he didn’t like sitting around with nothing to do.
So she put him to work.
“He’d be like ‘Well, I’ve sent off these resumes. What should I do now?’” said Rock. “So I told him to start calling farmers’ markets to get information about selling marshmallows.”
It worked. In September 2015, Murphy’s Mellows partook in its first farmers market. It’s been an upward trajectory since. Starting this Labor Day, Murphy’s Mellows will be featured in seven area farmers markets, as well as two stores: ATX Jerky in Elgin and Revival Market in Bee Cave.
With autumn fast approaching, and then winter, Rock is looking to kick out a few seasonal flavors, including apple cinnamon — an old staple — as well as a new Bailey’s Irish Coffee recipe that still needs a bit of tweaking before being offered to the public.
While her customers enjoy the finished product, Rock gets to enjoy a different side of pillowy bliss.
“I like them right out of the mixer, when they’re still thick and creamy and little liquidy,” she said. “It’s like soft-serve marshmallow.”
For Rock, the journey from marshmallow-making novice to professional has been more than she could have expected. The most rewarding part of the journey, she said, has been the familial element.
“It’s a family business through and through,” she said. “My son works the markets. His girlfriend helps with social media and special labeling. It’s a team effort.”
Article by Mike Schoeffel – Austin Statesman