Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I Am Well-Tempered
It was a tradition in my family for our Christmas stockings to always have a mandarin orange in the toe of the stocking. Why? I'm not really sure. You'd have to ask my parents that question. But to me it was normal. So when I got married, our first Christmas together, I put a mandarin orange in the toe of my husband's hand-knit stocking. "What are you trying to do? Stretch it all out?" he exclaimed (which really was kind of foolish as his mother, when knitting it for him, had doubled the pattern to make it extra long. The Santa has a very droopy face.)
The next year, I knew better. I put the mandatory orange in the toe of the stocking, but carefully supported the stocking's weight on a stool, so it wouldn't stretch out (more).
When I first saw a chocolate orange, that chocolate treat that is shaped like an orange and cleverly break apart into segments, I was intrigued. I was excited to buy one as my husband loves the combination of dark chocolate and bitter orange together. He loved it and it became a Christmas tradition for the toe of his stocking. He didn't complain nearly as much about the stretchage (that's a word, right?) when it involved chocolate.
This past year, though, I skipped the orange and instead I made these chocolate covered marshmallows. I was in the mood to make marshmallows and the idea of orange marshmallows was intriguing. I put three kinds of orange flavor into the marshmallows, and dipped them in my darkest chocolate (72% cacao). My husband pronounced them heavenly and had an anxiety attack when I tried to give some away. Luckily, I have the secret recipe and can make them again. It could be that the stocking will be a little less stretched next Christmas morning, but we'll have amazing hot cocoa with marshmallows!
Decadent Dipped Orange Marshmallows
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold, fresh-squeezed, sieved orange juice, divided
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup*
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp orange liquer (Grand Marnier)
1/4 tsp orange extract
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
1- With a sieve, generously dust and 9 x 13 inch baking dish with confectioner's sugar.
2-Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold orange juice in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.
3-Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup orange juice in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.
4- With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the orange liquer and orange extract and mix thoroughly.
5- Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.
6- Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the marshmallows. Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares. Roll them in confectioners' sugar and store in an airtight container.
* If you wish to avoid using corn syrup, try this recipe here, replacing the water with orange juice and adding the orange flavorings at the end.
For tempering the chocolate, I used the instructions in Field Guide to Candy, by Anita Chou.
To dip the marshmallows, you'll need about 1-1/2 to 2 lbs of dark chocolate, even if you don't plan on using it all on this project. Using smaller amounts makes it difficult to control the temperature.
1- Finely chop the chocolate. Place 2/3 of the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Place an instant read thermometer in the chocolate and stir frequently with a rubber spatula.
2- For dark chocolate you want to keep the temperature under 120 deg. F. When the chocolate has fully melted, remove the bowl from heat and wipe the bottom of the bowl to get rid of condensation. Be careful not to allow any steam or water to get into the melted chocolate, as this can cause the chocolate to seize up.
3- Stir in the remaining third of the chocolate, a little at a time. Let it melt before adding more.
4- Let the chocolate cool to about 82 deg. F, stirring occasionally till it reaches that temperature.
5- Once the chocolate reaches 82 deg F, place it back over the simmering water. Reheat it to 88 - 91 deg. F. (This is for dark chocolate. Milk or white have different temperature requirements.)
6- Spread a small spoonful of chocolate on a piece of wax paper. If it dries quickly with a glossy finish and no streaks, the chocolate is in temper. If it looks dull or streaky, re-temper the chocolate, starting with step 1.
7- Brush excess powdered sugar off a marshmallow. Using two forks, dip the marshmallow into the chocolate, covering it completely. Scrape excess chocolate off and set the marshmallow on a piece of parchment or wax paper to cool and dry thoroughly. Do not disturb until the chocolate is fully cooled and hardened. Repeat with remaining marshmallows.
If the temperature starts to dip, put the bowl back over the simmering water to bring it to the appropriate temperature.
If you have just a bit of chocolate left over, scrounge the pantry for dippable items. Graham crackers, dried fruit, and fresh strawberries are all good.