Monday, February 15, 2010

I Heart Marshmallows

I love to make marshmallows a few times a year. Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter seem to be marshmallow making holidays. Last week I made them for those I love and those the ones I love, love. (i.e.-girlfriends *sigh*)

I consulted David Lebovitz to figure out how to make use of the boxes and boxes of sheet gelatin I had bought at such a great price. The thing is, 4 packages of Knox is way easier but a deal's not a deal if you don't use it. Math is not my forte and it took forever for me to figure out how to substitute sheets for packages. After much calculation, I figured it out and then promptly threw the notes away before I could share them. The marshmallows turned out beautifully so my math must have been good.

So often, when I give marshmallows, recipients are surprised that you can make them yourself. That always strikes me as funny since most anything edible you can buy, you can always make better yourself. The surprise always makes the gift more fun to give.

Really it's a simple project of easy steps, make a sugar syrup, slowly add to the softened gelatin, add vanilla and spread in a pan. After adding the sugar syrup, the mixture begins to grow and turn a luxurious, glossy white. Kids love to watch this transformation. If hot sugar scares you, trust me, try this once and you'll be hooked. Be like Julia, don't be afraid!

I have the "marshmallow pan", an odd 11x17 pan that Martha's recipe suggests. Really you could use any size pan, keeping in mind the volume. Smaller pans yield thicker marshmallows. Good for eating but not so good for a cup of cocoa, in my opinion.

For Christmas I just cube them for cocoa. Valentine's Day requires hearts, of course. Aren't they cute?

One occasion when gilding the lily is the only way to go. I like them best dipped in dark chocolate but milk chocolate is good, too. I used good quality Guitard. After all you don't gild a lily with aluminum foil.

Martha's Marshmallows
The Martha Steward Cookbook

1 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 t. salt
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, plus additional for rolling

Oil an 11x17" Pyrex baking dish with vegetable oil. Line the dish with heavy aluminum fouil and lightly coat with more oil. (if using a non-stick pan like mine, oiling the foil is sufficient)

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, soften the gelatin with 3/4 c. water.

Place the sugar, corn syrup, the remaining 3/4 cup water and the salt in a heavy pan. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the syrup reaces 235-240 degrees, or softball stage on a candy thermometer. (invest in a good quality thermometer and you'll have no problems)

With the whisk attachment of the mixer at full speed, beat the hot syrup slowly into the gelatin until mixture is very stiff, about 15 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into the foil-lined pan and smooth the top with an oiled spatula. Allow the mixture to rest, uncovered at room temperature 10-12 hours.

Using a fine sieve, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar onto a cutting board. Turn the stiffened marshmallow mixture out onto the sugar, and using a small, lightly oiled cookie cutter, cut into shapes. Be sure to dip the cut edges of the marshmallow into confectioners' sugar to prevent sticking.

Dip in chocolate and add a few festive sprinkles. They'll love you.

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