Sunday, May 19, 2013

Marshmallows for the swap

After making caramels twice in a row, I decided it was time for a change. I hadn't made marshmallows in a while, and there was a jar of gelatin and a gallon of corn syrup in my cupboard, so marshmallows it  is. If you're worried about corn syrup, get a copy of Marshmallows by Eileen Talanian, which starts with a recipe for Marshmallow Syrup. I used the recipe in Joy of Cooking, which calls for corn syrup. I usually avoid products with corn syrup in them, because so much of what we eat, even meat, is reprocessed corn, but lately corn has become so expensive that cattle are being fed chopped up candy, even (gasp!) chocolate instead of corn, so avoiding corn doesn't seem quite so urgent anymore.

Start by lining a 9 x 13 pan with aluminum foil. The easiest way to do this is to form the foil on the upside-down pan. 

Then turn your pan right side up and the foil form slips right in.

Grease the foil. Non-stick spray is the easiest. Then sift a little powdered sugar over the grease and tap to distribute it evenly. Your pan is now prepared.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in your mixer bowl.

Place the mixer bowl over a pot of simmering water and heat until the solution is clear, stirring occasionally to make sure all the gelatin is wet. Dry off the bottom of the bowl, and place it on the mixer. Use the whisk attachment if you have one.

Mix the corn syrup, water sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Mine holds two quarts.

Bring to a boil over low heat.

Raise the heat to high and insert a warmed candy thermometer. I leave mine in the oven while I'm getting to this point. If your oven doesn't have a pilot light, place it in warm water. My pan is too curved to use the clip on the thermometer, so I balance it against a stack of pots.

When your solution reaches firm ball stage, remove the pot from the heat, turn on the mixer and slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin solution, avoiding the whisk. Aim for the side of the bowl--you don't want to get splattered with boiling syrup!

Let the mixer run for 15 minutes. Any longer and your marshmallows will be tough. But any less and they'll be too soft. The mixture turns white very quickly (see video) but it isn't marshmallows yet. The directions for most recipes say "pour" the marshmallows into the prepared pan, but it's really "scrape." With a greased scraper. You might want to spray your hands, too, while you're at it.

Even off  the top with your scraper. An offset spatula would be handy here. but it isn't necessary.

Cover loosely with foil and let your marshmallow set overnight before cutting and rolling in more powdered sugar to keep the pieces from sticking together. I don't have pictures of this step because I was afraid of clogging up my phone with powdered sugar.

This is what the marshmallows look like dipped in chocolate.

To make chocolate marshmallows, I added 1/2 cup of Scharffen Berger unsweetened cocoa powder to the bowl before pouring the syrup, so the hot syrup would cook the cocoa. If you want a sweeter chocolate flavor, try Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate. You can also use other flavoring extracts or your favorite alcoholic beverage instead of the vanilla extract called for in the recipe. Commercial vanilla extract is 35% alcohol (that's 70 proof) so don't be afraid to use whisky or liqueur for flavoring.

I do this for fun, but if you don't have the patience to make your own marshmallows and  just want to eat them, check out Sugar Knife Marshmallows. Jenna is currently doing a Kickstarter campaign. This is your chance to get in on the ground floor.