Sunday, January 20, 2013
springy, fluffy marshmallows
In the spirit of full disclosure, I've never been a fan of marshmallows. Sure, they're fun to roast over an open fire - dancing a tango with the flames in an attempt to garner the perfect glob of toasty brown exterior and molten fluff interior. And, of course, they're a prized member of the golden trio needed to produce a good s'more, joining forces with graham crackers and chocolate in perfect harmony.
But, outside of those exceptions, marshmallows do nothing for me. In and of themselves, they don't have much flavor other than that of...sugar. Furthermore, I find their texture to be rather unpleasant - shouldn't a food whose primary ingredients include sugar and corn syrup simply melt in your mouth without requiring endless chewing??
Those opinions all changed, though, when I finally realized what marshmallows really should be. While the store-bought bagged version offers little more than a tough, flavorless, processed product, homemade marshmallows are, in a word, divine. Bursting with all the goodness of pure vanilla extract and unbelievably tender in texture, they're impossible to resist.
Bonus, they're not hard to make, either. Needing the perfect recipe to accompany the homemade graham crackers for my dear friend's wedding way back in November, I turned to the ever reliable Deb for inspiration. And trust me, I'm never going back. In fact, I'm already looking forward to finding another excuse to whip up a batch - possibly swapping out the vanilla for other flavorings and endless possibilities... :)
Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows
Yield about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows
About 1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg white or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla (or 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons almond, coconut, or mint extract)
Oil the bottom and sides of a 15 x 11 x 1-inch nonstick baking sheet and dust to cover with confectioners' sugar.
In a large bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold water and let stand to soften.
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan or Dutch oven set over low heat, cook the granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and additional 1/2 cup of water, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and allow to boil, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the sugar mixture over the gelatin mixture, stirring until dissolved.
Beat the mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 6-10 minutes.
In a separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters, whip the egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Add the whites and vanilla to the sugar mixture and beat until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan (it will be sticky and messy!) and spread into an even layer. Sift 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar evenly over the top. Chill, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours or up to one day.
Run a thin knife around the perimeter of the pan and invert onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of the pan, use fingers to loosen the marshmallow and ease it onto the board. With a large knife, trim the edges and cut into 1-inch cubes. Sift the remaining confectioners' sugar into the now-empty pan and roll the marshmallows through it, coating all 6 sides, before shaking off the excess.
Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Adapted from Gourmet via Smitten Kitchen