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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows


Homemade vanilla marshmallows
My neighbor in Austin used to send over a tray of treats every Christmas and she always had some pink or green big marshmallowy things on the tray.  I had no idea they were actually homemade marshmallows!  She passed away several years ago and that, sadly, ended those special treats.  I saw a picture of some in a Christmas cooking magazine and thought "hey, that's the stuff Mrs. Fisher used to make!"....and then, I saw them for sale in the Central Market bakery....apparently they've become quite the popular gourmet treat.  My niece just mentioned on Facebook that she made them and she thought they were super easy.  I wouldn't go that far, but I did enjoy spending the time in my kitchen during this horrific cold spell we are experiencing.  I'm going to have a big cup of my Decadent Hot Chocolate and homemade marshmallows as soon as I get up in the morning.  (I'm typing this on Wednesday, but won't get it posted until Thursday - they have to set up for 12 hours, so tick tock tick tock)

Flash forward to Thursday morning!

When I went to look for recipes, the first two on Google were Alton Brown's from Food Network and Stephanie Jaworski's from JoyofBaking.com.  Stephanie's recipe won out because Alton's required cornstarch and I am low on that ingredient.  I had everything I needed to do the Joy of Baking recipe...and I like reading all of the extra info she adds beyond "just the recipe".  It's a great web site if you haven't used it yet.  She has really interesting content and all of her recipes are tested.  That's a huge plus for me!  I also like that she's beginning to do videos.  She says she is not a trained chef - just a real person who bakes and has taken her love of baking to a whole new level for the home baker.  I like her.

So, here we go on making homemade marshmallows!

HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS
Basic Recipe from Stephanie Jaworski (with my little comments and mis-steps)
http://www.joyofbaking.com/


Ingredients:

1 cup cold water, divided
3 1/4 ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4-5 cups confectioner's sugar for coating the marshmallows

Method:

Lightly butter, or vegetable spray (I used spray), the bottom of a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Sift about 3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar in the bottom of the pan.  This will help the release the set marshmallow from the paper.

Place 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with your whisk attachment (I used a stand mixer - and I would strongly advise that since there is 10 minutes of beating in your future).  Sprinkle the 3 packets of gelatin over the cold water in the bowl.  Let stand until gelatin softens (or blooms) - about 15 minutes.

bringing the mixture to boil
Meanwhile, in a heavy two quart saucepan, place the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cold water.
Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil.
Cover the saucepan with a lid and let boil for about three minutes to allow any sugar crystals to dissolve from the sides of the saucepan. 
Remove the lid and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Increase heat to high and boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F, about 10 minutes (note - it took mine 6 minutes and I was at 245 before I realized...hope that doesn't effect the finished product).
Remove from heat.

With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture in a thin stream down the side of the bowl.

mixture almost doubled
Gradually increase the speed to high and beat until mixture has tripled in volume and is very thick and stiff, about 10 minutes (looks like thick marshmallow cream).

Mixture tripled in volume
Add vanilla extract and beat to combine, about 30 seconds longer.

It's ready to spread in pan
Scrape marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a damp offset spatula or rubber spatula. The mixture is very sticky so just smooth it out as best as you can. (I tried a damp spatula and it didn't work at all, moved to a rubber spatula - no luck there either...so I have somewhat lumpy marshmallows...I could spread - but not smooth the top)

Spread in pan with confectioner's sugar dusted on top

Dust the top of the marshmallow with another 3 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until set, about 12 hours.

Remove the marshmallow from the pan by first running a small sharp knife around the edge of the marshmallow to loosen it from the pan.


I cut up squares and cut out a few hearts
Invert the pan onto a large cutting board that has been dusted with confectioners' sugar.
You might have to use your fingers to help loosen the marshmallow from the pan.
Peel off the parchment paper (the marshmallow will be sticky) and dust the top of the marshmallow with confectioners' sugar. 
Cut the marshmallow into squares using clean kitchen scissors, a pizza roller or a sharp knife (pizza roller for me!).
Dip the cut sides of the marshmallows in additional confectioners' sugar.
Shake off excess sugar and store the marshmallows in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to two weeks.
Makes about 24 - 2 1/2 inch marshmallows.

Most people might put a picture of the finished product here...but I'll have put that at the top.  I'll leave you with the reality of the bowl you'll have to wash!  Fortunately, hot water did miracles when I let it sit for a while.  And, I licked the whisk...it was DELICIOUS.  Marshmallow cream :-)

Get this bowl soaking in hot water ASAP!!!
Note:  It is Thursday morning - the teen is slurping up the Decadent Hot Chocolate with the big heart shaped marshmallow.  He appears to really be enjoying it, based on the ummmm sounds and the slurping followed by smiles.  Ahhhh...that's one of the best reasons to bake things...the satisfaction of happy testers!  It just tickles my toes!!!

I know I said yesterday it wasn't all that easy...but I think I was tired from baking all day and walking out in the frigid weather.  In retrospect, not hard at all...I will definitely make these for my oldest granddaughter, Lola.  That girl loves her some marshmallows!  Matter of fact, think I'll pack some of these up and send them up to her.  She'll be a happy girl.  Maybe I'll make some pink marshmallows for Valentine's Day...I need to use a jellyroll pan instead of the 13x9x2 so I have a bit thinner palette to cut shapes from.  The thick ones are hard to do!  Also, DO think I will dip a few in chocolate to see how that works out.  I love chocolate covered marshmallows!

Have a happy day folks - and stay warm (or cool, wherever you are)!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!
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