Thursday, December 12, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows

Wow, so far, all of my December posts, except for two, have been sweets. Well, 'tis the season or something.
Today, I'm sharing something fun: homemade marshmallows! I mean, duh, you already knew that because of the title, right? I was inspired by (re)watching The Lorax recently. There's that scene where the Once-ler rips open a bag of marshmallows and they go flying into the air, remember?

There really is no reason to make marshmallows yourself except it's just a fun thing to do. Sure, you could run out to the market and buy a bag; it's more practical and it's probably cheaper. But this is cooler and you can brag to your friends about it. You can really shove it in their faces how awesome you are, you big show off.
Ingredients:
3 packets of powdered gelatin (approximately 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons)
½ cup + ½ cup water
12 oz. granulated sugar (approximately 1½ cups)
½ cup light corn syrup (the clear kind)
2 egg whites (optional)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or extract of your choice (suggestions: peppermint, coconut, maple, cinnamon, or hazelnut)
oil for greasing
powdered sugar for dusting (about ½ cup)

Start by smearing a bunch of oil in a pan and then dust with plenty of powdered sugar. I used a 9" x 13" glass baking dish which yielded "average" size marshmallows but you could also use a sheet pan for thinner marshmallows (you could make mini marshmallows) or you could use a square 9" x 9" pan for thicker marshmallows. Don't be stingy with neither the oil nor sugar, unless you want your marshmallows to stick to the pan. That's your prerogative.
In a large bowl, combine gelatin and 1/2 a cup of water and set aside. This is called "blooming" the gelatin, a.k.a. hydrating the grains.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, 1/2 cup of water, and corn syrup. I like to measure the water and corn syrup in one container, adding the water in first. This just makes it easier to handle the corn syrup, which is super sticky. Heat over a low, stirring constantly so the sugar on the bottom doesn't burn.
The sugar syrup will start off looking milky and then once it's at the right temperature (240 F), it start to turn clear and bubbly.
Pour the syrup over the bloomed gelatin and stir to dissolve. The heat of the syrup should easily dissolve the gelatin. Then, take to it with a mixer and beat for 10 minutes or until white and fluffy and thick and the syrup is no longer hot (shoot for lukewarm).
You will slowly see the syrup transform from a clear beige-yellow color to a beige-ish milky color and then a pretty, shiny white.
Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl with a pinch of salt and vanilla extract (or whatever extract you choose to use). Whip to stiff peaks. You could technically skip the egg whites if you wanted. I like adding them in because it gives the marshmallows a meringue-y taste and a little extra fluffy airiness.
Add the egg whites to the syrup and gelatin mixture and whip slowly to combine. Don't overmix the fluff or you'll deflate the egg whites completely.
Pour the marshmallow fluff into the greased and dusted pan. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl but be careful because this stuff is sticky, stringy, and you will get it the most random places. I found a bit of fluff decorating my eyebrows and on the hem of my shirt.
Give the pan a little jiggle to even out the fluff a bit. You could use a spatula to even out the surface but again, it might be a sticky, ooey, stringy, gooey mess. Dust the top of the marshmallow mixture with more powdered sugar and let it set for at least 4 hours, uncovered. If you have the time, leaving it alone overnight is even better.
Once the marshmallows are set, run a knife around the edge and then turn it out.
Dust the surface with some more powdered sugar.
Use a bit more oil to grease whatever you plan on using to cut out your marshmallows: either cookie cutters or a pizza cutter or a normal knife.
I used a bit circular biscuit cutter to cut out perfectly sized marshmallows to top a mug full of hot chocolate (hint: stay tuned for tomorrow's post).
Or, use a (greased) pizza cutter to cut out little cubes.
Once the marshmallows are cut up, use more powdered sugar and toss them around to coat the cut sides. You could also use a mixture of cornstarch and powdered sugar (1:1 ratio) if it's particularly humid. The cornstarch will be better at absorbing moisture. I just stuck with powdered sugar because it's winter time and it's pretty dry in the house because of the heating.
Cute, right? They're so fluffy and sweet and lovely.
Place the marshmallows in an airtight container. These will keep for up to three weeks.
Here's the recipe page:

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