Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Homemade marshmallows: why not?

I haven't done much cooking lately since, as anyone following my Twitter feed knows, I've been dealing with a bit of a mouse problem. It seems to be under control -- no new droppings accumulated while I was gone over Christmas and nothing has RUN OVER MY FOOT WHILE I WAS DOING THE DISHES since I've been back either. (That sucked, although when it happened I made a sound that I don't believe I had ever made previously — kind of an undulating yelp of shock and horror — which was interesting in a gaining-self-knowledge kind of way.)

Which is to say that I haven't had much to blog about for the last few weeks. I'm pretty sure that no one wants to read about me making another almond butter and jam sandwich to bring to work. So, when I was visiting my mom, I figured I'd take advantage of the fact that she has both a stand mixer and a vermin-free kitchen and make some marshmallows.

You start off by soaking gelatin in some cold water.
Then you boil sugar, water and corn syrup.
It needs to be beaten for twelve minutes, during which time it goes from looking like this:
to looking like this:
to looking like this. At this point, you add vanilla. I was tempted to color them pink, but decided not to for no reason that I can remember now, because seriously, how adorable would that have been?
Mom didn't have the called-for 9x9" pan, so I used an 11x17" to no ill effect, though I would have preferred one that didn't have rounded sides, purely for aesthetic reasons, as you'll see in the finished photos. I oiled the plastic wrap that lined the pan.
And then sealed the top with waxed paper. And I am here to tell you that making marshmallows is actually super easy, but for the love of God, make sure you oil both layers. I had thought about it but then was all, why bother? waxed paper doesn't stick to anything. It took me about half an hour to scrape the wax paper off with a knife once the batter(?) had set.
Here I am after I started scraping, demonstrating that I could hold the whole thing up by one corner of the waxed paper. The plastic wrap peeled off with no problem, thanks to the three seconds or so I invested in oiling it.
And here it is post-scraping, with the corner of the scraping knife visible on the right.
This part was pretty fun: using a chef's knife and a mixture of confectioner's sugar and cornstarch, coat all sticky surfaces and cut into pieces. Grapes make a nice snack if you're feeling peckish.
Then pile them up on a plate and force everyone to admire them.
They tasted exactly like marshmallows, I have to say. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did a little. They had a slightly softer texture than their commercial counterparts, but in a really nice way. I gave a bunch to my brother and his wife and left some with my mom and I still have a huge bag full. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with them (truth be told, I'm not all that crazy about marshmallows), but I'm definitely set for hot chocolate for the foreseeable future.

I used this recipe from Slashfood and followed it exactly, except for the oiling the top layer part. I think it could be interesting to experiment with flavors other than vanilla, or maybe also liquids other than water in both the gelatin and the syrup. Some kind of tart juice might be nice. Raspberry marshmallows? Lemon? Or maybe coconut? I wonder what would happen if you used brown sugar instead of white...

Homemade Marshmallows

.75-oz unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes of Knox gelatin)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Line 9 x 9-inch pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil it. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and boil hard for 1 minute.

Pour the boiling syrup into soaked gelatin and turn on the mixer, using the whisk attachment, to high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, add in the vanilla extract beat to incorporate.

Scrape marshmallow into the prepared pan and spread evenly (Lightly greasing your hands and the spatula helps a lot here). Take another piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap and press lightly on top of the marshmallow, creating a seal. Let mixture sit for a few hours, or overnight, until cooled and firmly set.

In a shallow dish, combine equal parts cornstarch and confectioners' sugar. Remove marshmallow from pan and cut into equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef's knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners' sugar mixture.

Store in an airtight container.

[originally posted on my old food blog 12.29.2008]

1 comment:

the lady said...

Lovely! Thank you for the tip on oiling both layers. LOVE your blog.