Friday, February 23, 2007

Marshmallows at last

My husband announced to me with glee a few weeks ago that he'd found my new vocation - food blogging. "Food and writing; it's so you!" he said. So after browsing the exciting, enticing, exotic world of food blogs and finding a few favorites, I've taken the plunge into my own.

The name, Cookie Baker, is what I am at my core, although I'm more than happy to try other avenues of culinary exploration. It's just that to me a cookie is the essential distillation of happiness, comfort, and love in sweet bite-sized morsels. That's why, more than likely, the majority of my writing will be about cookies, or at least dessert-oriented foods.

It might seem peculiar then to have as my first blog entry a non-cookie item, marshmallows. The first time I saw a marshmallow recipe, though, was in Maida Heatter's Cookie book. She made is sound delightful, but for some reason I never got around to actually trying it. I think it sounded just too tricky. I've seen different recipes, calling for non-standard ingredients such as potato starch or 200 bloom gelatin (where do you buy that??), and they always put me off. But still the siren song remained. And then intensified when Williams Sonoma began selling handmade marshmallows at Christmas time. I was enchanted then appalled. $12 for marshmallows? I don't think so!

If there's one lever that really moves me into action it is thrift. The idea that I could make my own handmade marshmallows AND save beaucoup bucks was huge. So it was that I was perfectly positioned to act when I opened my latest library acquisition, Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Family Style, and saw:

Homemade Marshmallows

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water 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.

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 vanilla and mix thoroughly.

With a sieve, generously dust and 8 x 12 inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioner's sugar. (My Pyrex dish has sloping sides, so some of my marshmallows came out warbly shapes, but this gave my husband an excuse to tidy up the "uneven" ones.) 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.

Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares. Dust them with more confectioners' sugar.

Maida Heatter adds at this point that you can store them in a plastic box or in a plastic bag like commercial marshmallows. (Her recipe, the original one to woo me, is remarkably similar to this version.)

I made the marshmallows following the amazingly simple directions and met with great success! Soft, sweet pillows, with a hint of resistance as you bite into them, melting in a heady cloud of vanilla. As I told my husband as he happily licked his fingers, "That's at least $20 worth of marshmallows there by Williams Sonoma prices!"

And of course, when you have marshmallows, you have to have hot cocoa. Mmmmmm.


Lady Di said...

Oh Bruce was so right - writing and cooking is a perfect fit. You are totally amazing at both. Steve loved the marshmallow, although he said something was missing. We decided it was the nasty "been sitting in a bag" flavor.

Can't wait for the next entry!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Lynn! The marshmallows look
perfect. I'm sorry I couldn't make it by for a
sampling. Your article was very fun reading -
I look forwrd to the next one. Have fun with
your new venture.

Anonymous said...

Oh mom, what a team our family makes for this. What will you do when I move out?

Anonymous said...

I am so on my way over! I love cocoa and marshmallows. I will bring the movie, "Chocolat".

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Diane - There is hope for this relationship if Steve likes marshmallows! Thanks for the kind words on your blog. You're the best!

Sarah - What will I do, indeed? You'd better live close, hon, so you can come over at the drop of a hat to take pictures of my food. Then Sam can come over frequently to eat the food, too.

Dianne - It's a date! And maybe I could make some cookies to go with that...

Anonymous said...

These are the best marshmallows I have ever eaten!!! Thanks for the therapy today.

Debra said...

I agree, I love homemade marshmallows...I gave away some peppermint marshmallows & cocoa mix to a close friend as a Christmas gift. :)

Megan said...

I just bought 32 packs of gelaten for one envelope. I wondered what I was gonna do with all this gelatin. Then I saw your cocoa recipe. Hubbys gone tonight and I thought Hot Cocoa for me and the kid while wetching *Lost* Perfect. Then, I clicked on the marshmellow link, and got the answer to my question. Homemade Marshmellos!
Now I'm glad I spent that $5.00 for gelatin! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Those are great looking mallows. I love marshmallows and my favorite gourmet marshmallows come from a company by the name of Tuccelli. They also make their own peppermint patties, fudge and cocoa.

Anonymous said...

I've never made marshmallows thinking it would just be easier to buy them from the store but now that I've stared caring more about the ingredients in my food, I think making your own crap free marshmallows is a good idea. :) I'm looking forward to trying.