Monday, May 10, 2010
Marshmallows, New & Improved!
The very first thing I ever posted on my blog was marshmallows. I'd wanted to try making them for years and starting my blog was the excuse I needed to take the plunge. Since then I've made them hundreds, dozens, well, lots of times. I love watching the alchemy which transforms gelatin and sugar syrup into billowy pillows of sweetness. I've made them vanilla, peppermint, and fruit flavored, so you might wonder why I'm giving myself a High Five award on yet more marshmallows.
I know candy is not anyone's definition of health food, so it might seem foolish to try and make it healthier, but I am concerned about using corn syrup. Since High Fructose Corn Syrup hit my radar several years ago, I've been trying to keep it out of my house. How disheartening is was to learn that the dreaded HFCS had snuck into my regular corn syrup! I still have it in my pantry, but try to use it only sparingly. (David Lebovitz wrote a terrific post about when and why to use corn syrup here.)
So it was with delight that this marshmallow-making fan found a book called Marshmallows, which has a method for making your own syrup to replace corn syrup. The result? Not a settle for marshmallow. Not an "it's OK, but I'm wistfully thinking of the other kind" marshmallow. This made better marshmallows. Softer, fluffier, not as gummy. My family loved them and all gave them two sticky thumbs up. Woo hoo!
Because you have to make the syrup before you can make the marshmallows, this works out well as a multi-day project.
- adapted from Marshmallows, Homemade Gourmet Treats
- makes about 1 quart
2 cups water
5-1/3 cups granulated cane sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1- In a heavy 4-quart pan, combine all the ingredients, stirring until the sugar is moistened. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cover the pan for 2 minutes so the steam will wash any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan.
2- Uncover the pan, place a candy thermometer in the sugar mixture, and increase the heat to high. From this point on, do not stir! Continue cooking until the thermometer reads 240 deg. F.
3- Remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool for 15 minutes. Ladle* it into clean jars and attach lids.
Store the syrup at room temperature for up to 2 months. If the syrup begins to form crystals at the bottom of the jar, pour out the amount of syrup you need when you use it, without scraping the jar. Discard any crystallized part that is left in the jar.
* Ladle is important. I poured and the syrup picked up sugar crystals from the side of the pan and began crystallizing in the jar.
Note: The syrup will be very thick once it cools. To use it, microwave uncovered for 2 minutes on high power, or place the jar in a pan of hot water over low heat until it can be poured easily. Do not stir the syrup.
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cold water
1-1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup water
1-1/4 cups Marshmallow Syrup (above)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Coating mixture (step 7)
1- Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray and wipe it lightly with a paper towel, leaving only a thin film of oil. Set up a stand mixer with whisk attachment in place.
2- Measure the cold water into a measuring cup and add the vanilla. Place the gelatin into a small bowl and pour the water mixture over it, stirring until there are no lumps. Set the bowl near the stove.
3- Place the 3/4 cup water, the Marshmallow Syrup, salt, and sugar, in that order, into a 4-quart pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pan with a lid and allow it to boil for 2 minutes to wash down the sugar crystals on the sides.
4- Remove the lid, place a candy thermometer in the pan, and continue boiling until the syrup is 250 deg. F. Once the lid is removed, do not stir the mixture! Remove the thermometer and gently stir in the bloomed gelatin.
5- Pour the batter into the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat it on high for 10 to 12 minutes. At first the batter will look very watery, but as it beats, it will become thick, white and glossy and will increase in volume by two- or threefold.
6- Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and spread the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Let the pan sit uncovered at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight.
7- Sift together 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar and 1/4 cup cornstarch. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with the mixture. Ease the marshmallows away from the sides of the pan and flip the pan over, releasing the marshmallows onto the cutting surface. Cut the marshmallows into squares, or use cookie cutters to cut fancy shapes. Toss the cut marshmallows in the powdered sugar mixture, shaking off any excess.
Place the coated marshmallows in an airtight container, with wax paper between the layers, and leave a corner of the lid slightly ajar. They will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.