Saturday, October 12, 2013

Making homemade marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows are one of my family's favorite treats. Some of you may be wondering if it is worth taking the time to make marshmallows from scratch, when they are fairly inexpensive to buy. I can attest that the homemade kind are far better than the jet-puffed impersonators sold at grocery stores. Marshmallows are my daughter's favorite snacks, so I learned how to make these for her last year. They are so popular, that I often get request from my friends and family to make them. But what they don't realize is they are actually quite simple to make.

 Marshmallows make great gifts, especially this time of year when everyone is getting in the mood for a nice cup of hot chocolate. They are very versatile and can be flavored any way you choose. You could also swirl them with caramel or tint them with food coloring. The possibilities are absolutely endless. This recipe is for a very simple, basic vanilla marshmallow. Once you have mastered these, you will be able to go on and make any flavor you choose. So if you're up for the challenge, please join me in the kitchen.

 Please note, this recipe moves at a very fast pace. You will need to read the entire recipe and instructions before attempting this recipe. Also, you will need to make sure you have gathered all of your ingredients and prepared your pan before starting. It is a very simple recipe, but can be easily messed up if you're ill prepared.

 2 cups granulated sugar
 3/4 cup light corn syrup
 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup of water, divided
 3 packets unflavored gelatin
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
 1/4 cup powdered sugar
 3 tablespoons corn starch
 Nonstick cooking spray

 To start, fit your stand mixer with your wire whisk attachment.
 Pour the 1/2 cup of water into the bowl of your mixer, and sprinkle the 3 packets of gelatin over top.
 This needs to set for 10 minutes, however, it usually takes me that long to prepare the rest of the mixture, so  i typically dive right in.

In a glass saucepan, add your 2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup water and 3/4 cup corn syrup. (TIP: before measuring your corn syrup, lightly spray the measuring cup with the nonstick cooking spray. This will help you get most of your corn syrup back out of the measuring cup.)
Place the pan over medium heat, and whisk together.
Continue whisking occasionally, until the mixture has come to a full boil. At this point, set your timer for 1 minute and whisk like crazy.
 Once time is up, quickly pour mixture on top of the gelatin in the bowl of your stand mixer.
 Turn on low and add the 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
 Gradually increase mixing speed until you are on high. You will need to do this in increments to ensure that you do not cause the hot, sticky mixture to splash out of the bowl.
 Continue beating the mixture until strings start forming on the side of the bowl.
 Once you start seeing the mixture pulling strings away from itself, it's time to add the vanilla extract.
 It will probably take you about 7 to 8 minutes to get to this point.
Slowly add the vanilla extract a little at a time; for even though it is only a tablespoon, it will thin  the mixture down considerably.
 If you add it all at once, it is a very good chance that you have splattered marshmallow all about your kitchen. Continue to mix for about another minute or until the vanilla is completely incorporated.
Then, working very quickly, turn off your mixer and shake any excess mixture from your beater.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan using your spatula to get as much from the bowl as possible.
To smooth the top of the marshmallows, run your hand under cold water and gently pat the top.

 In a separate bowl, sift together the 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of course starch.
 Using your sifter, gently shake some of the sugar-cornstarch mixture over the top of the marshmallows
. Set aside the remaining sugar-cornstarch mixture. This will be used to coat the exteriors of each marshmallow, to prevent them from sticking together or to you.

The marshmallows now need to rest. You will need a minimum of 4 hours or preferably, overnight.
 You will know when the marshmallows are ready if you can touch the tops without anything sticking to your hand and if you can turn your pan on its side and the mixture starts to pull away on its own.
The easiest way to cut marshmallows is with a pair of scissors.
So gather scissors and whatever container you're going to store your marshmallows in, as well as, your sugar-cornstarch mixture.
This step is very messy, so be warned.
Hold your scissors with the handles up and snip lines across your marshmallows
You will need to continually dip the scissors into the sugar-cornstarch mixture.

 After you have cut several lines across the pan, turn pan 90° and start snipping the other way.
 Using your hands, begin pulling the squares from the pan and dip all sides of the marshmallow into the coating.
Shake off any excess coating before placing in your container.
 Continue to do this for the remainder of your marshmallows. If you find your marshmallows are too large, simply cut them again.

That is it! you have made your marshmallows!!

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