Marshmallows

On a cold, rainy Sunday morning, we made plans to stay in and work by the fire that afternoon and evening taking breaks to eat homemade soup and drink hot chocolate.  I got to thinking of the many fires my Dad used to build on bitterly cold weekends growing up in New Jersey and Illinois.  We would go out into the yard and break off long, skinny branches to use as our marshmallow stick then come inside and begin toasting them over the roaring fire.  The best days were when Mom had graham crackers and chocolate on hand so we could make the ultimate childhood treat – S’mores.  It soon became imperative that I have marshmallows that day to float in my mug and to toast over the crackling fire.

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But, being Switzerland, not many shops sell marshmallows and, being Switzerland, very few shops are open on Sunday so I had to make my own.  I love David Lebovitz’s recipe .  Delicious and not overly sweet but there were not enough eggs in the fridge so I made an eggless version based on Ina Garten’s recipe. These marshmallows are much sweeter so I barely sweeten my hot chocolate to compensate. They toast up over the fire a treat!  I made both plain and toasted coconut versions.

Ingredients in the printable recipe below include water, unflavored powdered gelatin, sugar, salt, vanilla, confectioners’ sugar and light corn syrup.  (Note: if corn syrup is not available, try substituting glucose, golden syrup or honey.)  Not exactly the healthiest grouping of components but what is hot chocolate without a marshmallow bobbing away in the steaming liquid?

Begin by combining water and gelatin in the bowl of a stand-up mixer.

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Let it sit and thicken while completing the next step.

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Combine water, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan.

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Set the heat to medium.  Stirring gently and occasionally with a heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon, cook until the sugar has melted.

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The mixture will no longer sound and feel gritty when the sugar has dissolved.

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Clamp on a thermometer, ensuring the end of it is not touching the base of the pan.

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Turn the heat up to high and cook until the mixture reaches 240° F (115.5° C).  It might go a tad bit higher once it is removed from the stove so work quickly.

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Turn the mixer onto a low speed and, very carefully, pour the boiling sugar mixture into the bowl.  The whisk attachment works best.  (Boiling sugar mixtures act like napalm.  If splashed, they adhere to the skin and continues to burn.)

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Once the hot sugar mixture is entirely incorporated into the gelatin, increase the speed to high and beat for 10 to 15 minutes until a thick mixture forms.  After about five minutes, it will be slightly thick and white, but still too runny.

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Continue beating five to ten more minutes until it is very thick and barely drops off of the beater.

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Add vanilla or any desired flavoring.  (More on varieties in future posts.)

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The moment the vanilla is fully incorporated, it must be poured into a prepared pan.  Prepare the pan or pans while the sugar mixture is on the stove heating.  To make plain marshmallows, sprinkle the entire base of a 8 inch x 12 inch (20 cm x 30.5 cm)  pan with sifted confectioners’ sugar.  It is OK to use a more traditional-size 9 inch x 13 inch (23 cm x 33 cm) pan but the marshmallows with be thinner.

P1090427Another option is to place unsweetened or sweetened coconut flakes in a pan and gently toast over low heat shaking the pan occasionally.

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When it reaches golden brown, spread half of the toasted coconut in an even layer over the base of a 9″ x 12″ pan.

P1090424I made a half and half version.

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Pour the thick marshmallow goo carefully over the confectioner’s sugar and/or toasted coconut.  It will be easier to even out later if it is drizzled all throughout the pan and not just dumped in the middle.

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Using wet fingers, gently nudge the mixture into place until a reasonably even layer is formed. Keep a bowl of water nearby and continue dipping fingers into it.

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If making plain, very lightly dust the surface with a very thin layer of sifted confectioners’ sugar.  If using toasted coconut, do not dust with confectioners’ sugar.  Rather, cover the top (or a portion of the top if making the half and half version) with most of the remaining toasted coconut.  Let the pan sit, uncovered, in a cool place out of direct sunlight for 6 to 10 hours to set.

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After the marshmallows have firmed, have ready a sharp knife (or pizza roller cutter) and a glass of water to frequently dip the knife and fingers into.  They will get sticky when squares are being cut so the water is important.  If making the plain version, also have at the ready a bowl with sifted confectioners’ sugar to lightly coat the sticky edges of each piece after cutting to prevent sticking.

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If making the coconut-coated marshmallows, dip the sticky, cut edges into the reserved toasted coconut or that left behind in the pan.

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When the marshmallows are done, store in an airtight container, layering parchment or waxed paper between layers.

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Drop the plain marshmallows in a steaming mug of hot chocolate or light a fire and toast.

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Marshmallows (Plain and Toasted Coconut)
 
Ingredients
  • 3 packages (2½ teas. /.25 ounces / 7 grams) unflavored, powdered gelatin
  • ½ cup / 4 ounces / 125 ml cold water
  • 1½ cups / 10.5 ounces / 300 grams granulated sugar
  • ½ cup / 4 ounces / 125 ml water
  • 1 cup / 8 ounces / 250 ml light corn syrup (can use glucose, golden syrup or honey)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup / 2 ounces / 60 grams (or more) confectioners' icing sugar
  • 2.5 cups / 7 ounces / 200 grams unsweetened or sweetened, shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Begin by preparing the 8 inch x 12 inch pan.
  2. If making plain marshmallows: Lightly sift a thin layer of confectioners' sugar over the entire base.
  3. If making toasted coconut marshmallows: Place the coconut in a large skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Sprinkle a thin layer of coconut over the entire base of the pan.
  4. Combine gelatin and ½ cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment.
  5. Allow to sit while syrup is being prepared.
  6. Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan, preferably non-stick.
  7. Cook over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.
  8. Raise heat to high and cook until syrup reaches 240° F.
  9. Remove from heat.
  10. With mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the dissolved gelatin.
  11. Once fully incorporated, turn the mixer to high and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes.
  12. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  13. Pour into the prepared pan.
  14. Smooth the top with damp hands.
  15. If making plain marshmallows: Sift a very light layer of confectioners' sugar over the top.
  16. If making coconut marshmallows: Sprinkle remaining toasted coconut over the top.
  17. Let sit 6 to 10 hours.
  18. Cut and roll sides in confectioner’s sugar (or toasted coconut.
  19. Store tightly covered at room temperature. Place parchment or waxed paper between layers.

 

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