Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stay Puffed: Homemade Marshmallows

I've often considered trying my hand at homemade marshmallows, but I never got around to it.  That changed this week when Much Ado About Cake received a rather odd cake request.  More on that later.  For the moment, let us talk only of my need for a ten-inch marshmallow disc.

So, I had need of a ten-inch marshmallow disc.  I considered Fluff.  Alas, too soft.  I considered a barely-melted mash-up of commercial marshmallows.  Amateurish.  No, it seemed the time had come to make my own.

As a culinary (if not technological) geek, there is a very special place in my heart for Mr. Alton Brown.  I swear there is not an episode of Good Eats during which I do not snicker/giggle/laugh out loud.  Yes, even the ones with sock puppet yeast.  Okay, I confess, especially those.

Anyway.  Marshmallows.  The recipe and a delightful video are available on the Food Network website.  It goes a little something like this...

Homemade Marshmallows

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture.

Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping.

While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

For regular marshmallows: Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

For miniature marshmallows: Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch between each strip. Sprinkle the tops with enough of the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture to lightly cover. Let the strips set for 4 hours or up to overnight. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces using a pizza wheel or scissors dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Literate Baker notes:  This stuff is sticky, freaky sticky.  Be prepared.  Also, I wish I'd added a touch of almond extract in addition to the vanilla.  Of course, I always wish that.

At first, these bad boys seem a little denser than the bagged variety (similar to some gourmet marshmallows I got from Williams Sonoma once).  Yet, once you pop one into your mouth, it melts.  Literally.  Delightful.

The goo set fairly quickly and I was easily able to throw together my attempt at a Whippet (I'll tell you all about that next time.)  I can't wait to try toasting one of the little ones I made from the extra.  (I'll tell you all about that, too.)  I'm thinking that hot chocolate may never be the same.  I'm also thinking these will make a fun holiday gift.  I wonder if I could sub out some of the water with booze...

 I hope you'll give them a try.  Let me know if you do and if you get creative with flavorings.  In the meantime, keep it fluffy and always...

Keep it sweet.

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