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Sunday, February 6, 2011

homemade vanilla marshmallows.

I used to think Sure, I love to bake, but I'm never ever ever going to make candy. Candy including the usual suspects like caramel, fudge and marshmallows- anything that involves the use of a candy thermometer. I used to skip over any recipe that calls for caramel without a second thought, even though I knew I would be missing out on a triple layer chocolate caramel fudge cake for example. But look at me now! I've certainly made my fair share of salted caramel sauces, and now I'm venturing into the fluffy world of marshmallows.

There are mainly two kinds of marshmallows- one with egg whites and one without. I did my research and marshmallows with egg whites are supposed to be more melt-in-your-mouth, which is good for eating out of hand, but a bit of a pain when you want to top off your hot chocolate with it because it will melt away too quickly. So, I tried a recipe from Baked, which has no egg whites.

This isn't my first try actually. The first time I tried to make marshmallows, there was egg whites involved. The recipe must need some tweaking because I ended up with a meringue-like mixture that couldn't set no matter what I did. In the end, it ended up in the bottom of the trash bin. Not good.

Thank goodness the recipe worked this time. I do not understand how someone can be so relieved to see a bowl of white gunk but I was! Believe or not, I've never even seen marshmallow fluff, and when the recipe indicated to stop at that stage, I was so worried I would under beat it I kept going for more than the suggested 5 minutes. No harm done, rest assured. But I'm not sure if I ever want to see marshmallow fluff...

I heard that refrigerating to set the marshmallows was unnecessary but I had no choice because I was afraid the ants might attack. I took it out of the fridge after a night's rest and when it came back to room temperature, it was still pillowy-soft. Cold straight out of the fridge, however, they became denser and chewier. And is it just me, or do your marshmallows absorb all that icing sugar-cornstarch coating a few hours after?

I advise you to keep your fingers to yourselves because it's going to get sticky.

Vanilla Marshmallows
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
makes 48 large marshmallows

vegetable shortening
12 sheets gelatin
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting *I used a 50-50 mix of icing sugar and cornstarch instead

Grease a 9x13x2 inch pan with vegetable shortening. Set aside.
Fill a medium size heatproof bowl with very cold water and ice cubes. Place the gelatin sheets in the water and set aside.
Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and place on the stove over medium-low heat.
In another medium saucepan, add the sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, and 1/2 cup of water and stir gently, making sure not to splash the ingredients onto the sides of the pan.  Put the saucepan over medium-high heat.
Put the remaining 1/2 cup corn syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set aside.
Check the temperature of the saucepan of water.  When the temperature reaches 220°F, drain the water from the gelatin and gently wring any excess water from the gelatin sheets. Place the bowl of gelatin over the saucepan of simmering water and stir until the gelatin is completely melted.  Remove the bowl from the pan.
Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the melted gelatin into the corn syrup. Keep the mixer on low.
Place the candy thermometer in the saucepan with the sugar mixture. Bring the sugar mixture to the softball stage on the candy thermometer, 235-240°F. Remove the candy thermometer from the mixture and remove from the heat.  Turn the mixer to medium speed for 1 minute, then slowly pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture. When all of the sugar mixture has been added, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for about 5 minutes. The marshmallow mixture will begin to turn white and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and turn the mixer up to its highest setting for another minute.
Working very quickly, pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to spread the mixture evenly. Sprinkle with a bit of sifted confectioners sugar and let sit for at least 6 hours.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the marshmallow and gently pull with your hands to remove. The marshmallow will come out in one large piece. Lay on a flat surface dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
Place 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl.
Using a chef’s knife, cut the marshmallows into a 6×8 grid. Roll each marshmallow in confectioners’ sugar. Keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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