Friday, July 13, 2012

Vanilla Marshmallows

I adore homemade marshmallows.  They're bouncy and fluffy and all-around charming, but HOLY PROFANITY when the things get toasted... more profanity.  

Set to roast over a flame, a homemade marshmallow does things that a rotund little Jiffy-Puff, while perfectly delicious and, yes, definitely nostalgic, just cannot do.  A homemade marshmallow caramelizes.  It brulées, even.  It browns and toasts and caramelizes, forming a thin and crispy shell of caramel around an otherwise warm and gooey marshmallow.  PROFANITY.  
Though a bit involved, fresh marshmallows are definitely do-able, in the home kitchen department.  Whip up a quick batch, let them sit overnight to harden, and then gather a bunch of friends and some firewood and make the best damn s'mores you've had, probably ever.  What good would summer be without them?

Vanilla Marshmallows
Lightly adapted from Joy of Baking
Please note: homemade marshmallows need to sit in their pan for 12 (count them, 12) hours before they're nice and firm and ready to cut/eat.  Please plan accordingly.
Full disclosure: you’ll definitely need a stand mixer to make these, so if you don’t have one, I’m afraid you’re pretty much out of luck, in the homemade marshmallow department.  Bummer city.  You’ll also need a candy thermometer.  If you don’t own one, no worries – you can get one for about six bucks at your local kitchen supply store.  Happy mallow making!
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 12 sheet gelatin (or 3 1/4-ounce packets unflavored powdered gelatin)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • a drop or two of food coloring (optional - I made mine orange)
  • powdered sugar, for dusting and rolling
Spray an 8×8 inch brownie pan with cooking spray, and then gently sift powdered sugar atop the cooking spray to evenly coat the bottom and sides of the pan.  Fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 cup water and salt.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Do not stir.
While the sugar mixture is heating, place gelatin sheets into a bowl or glass and cover with cold water, to bloom.  Let gelatin sheets sit in the water for about 10 minutes, until no longer hard and brittle, but soft and squishy.  Squeeze the gelatin to release extra water, and set aside. (If using powdered gelatin, pour the gelatin packet into the bowl of your standing mixer and then pour 1/2 cup cold water on top – allow to sit for 10 minutes.)
Once the sugar mixture is boiling, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.  Boil the mixture until it reaches 240 degrees F (115 degrees C).  Once at 240, remove the pan from the heat and turn your mixer on low speed.  Slowly pour the hot syrup, in a thin stream, into the bowl of your standing mixture.  Once all of the syrup has been added, carefully throw in your bloomed gelatin (if using powdered gelatin you can skip this step – your gelatin should already be in the bowl of the mixer).  Gradually increase the speed of the mixer to high, and beat mixture until it has turned glossy white, tripled in volume and is thick and stiff, about 10 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and food coloring, if using, and beat well to combine.
Using a rubber spatula coated in cooking spray, pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar, and allow to sit, uncovered at room temperature, for 12 hours, until set.
To remove marshmallows from the pan, run a paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the mallows before inverting onto a cutting board dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  You may need to pry the mallow out a bit with your hands.  Use a sharp knife or clean kitchen shears to cut the marshmallows into squares, and roll each one in additional confectioner’s sugar, to coat.  Shake off excess sugar and store the marshmallows in an airtight container until ready to eat.  Mallows will keep, well wrapped, up to two weeks.
Makes 16-20 marshmallows.

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