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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Marshmallows! Need I say more?

Marshmallows are those lovely, soft, pillowy delights that everyone remembers roasting over a campfire, devouring stale at Easter, and watching melt away in your hot coco. Although they're ridiculously messy, they're quite easy to make, as long as you prepare yourself.

Because it's the holidays, I amped these up a tad by dipping them
in chocolate, sprinkling with candy cane, and making
them into adorable little lollipops.
Yield: about 35 marshmallows (really its between 25-50 depending on how, er, generous your portions are...)


  • 2 envelopes of gelatin (we'll talk about a vegi/kosher version at the end*)
  • 1/2 C and 1/3 C cold water
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/3 C light corn syrup
  • 4 lrg egg whites, room temp
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (helps stabilize the egg whites to get extra fluffiness)
  • dash of salt 
  • 2 tsp extract/flavoring of your choice (vanilla is traditional, this time around I did peppermint)
  • about 1/2 C each corn starch and powdered sugar, combined (used for dusting)

~In a tiny bowl or ramekin, sprinkle the gelatin into the 1/2 C water and set aside so it can dissolve.
~Next take a small saucepan, and add the 1/3 C water, sugar, and corn syrup. Almost every recipe I read suggests the use of a candy thermometer, but I just can't be bothered. I like to live dangerously, so I always just eyeball this mixture.
~While the sweet syrup is warming through, add the egg whites to an electric mixer's bowl. Beat on a low spread until frothy, then add the pinch of salt and the cream of tartar.
Whisk until nice and fluffy...
~Once the syrup has reached about 210 degrees (or is just simmering) amp up the speed of your egg whites so they can become really thick and fluffy. We're looking for nice soft peaks. 
~When the syrup is at 245 degrees (or bubbling away like crazy) slowly pour it into the egg white mixture. Make sure the whisk is constantly stirring it. 
Plop the gelatin into the now empty syrup pan and swirl to completely melt it. The residual heat should help move the process along. Once dissolved completely, slowly add this to the mixing bowl.
~Add your flavoring agent and continue whisking on med-high for about 5 minutes. You want to whisk away until the mixture has cooled. Try touching the outside of the bowl until it no longer feels warm.
~While your trying to kill 5 minutes, prepare a large baking dish... say 9x13-ish? I add parchment paper to the bottom, just in case. Lightly brush it with a flavorless oil, like canola, then completely dust it in the cornstarch mixture. Once the mixture is cool, pour into the baking dish and spread evenly with a spatula.
Cut, dusted, and ready for some hot cocoa...
~Now comes the really hard part. Allow the marshmallow to dry for a minimum of 4 hours. Preferably (or at least this works best for me) make this at night, then go to bed. That way you won't be as tempted to devour them.
~Ok, fast forward to eating time... well, almost. They still need to be portioned. Using kitchen scissors, cut even sized cubes. Be sure to use the dusting powder to coat each cube. These can be stored in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.... yeah right.

* So, as I said, I'll discuss gelatin options. I didn't eat the stuff for years because I was to freaked out as a kid knowing it was made from cute little piglets and ponies and whatever is in it now. Luckily, today, there are tons of options. Just be aware that they aren't gelatin, so they will be a little different.
There are plenty of choices, like "kosher" gelatin... but be wary, they aren't necessarily animal free. The best one I've found is "Lieber's Unflavored Jel," and "Carmel's unsweetened gel." If you can't find it in whole foods, it's all over the internet.  I personally prefer these over agar (a seaweed based gelling agent used in tons of Asian confections) because agar tends to be a bit grainy. 
The best thing to do is experiment and have fun!

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