Saturday, September 6, 2008

Marshmallows (p. 869) and Quick Hot Cocoa (p. 36)

As I was looking through the book I noticed that I hadn't made a SINGLE recipe out of the candies and confections chapter. Uh I decided to make a recipe from it and chose...hmm...which one to do...MARSHMALLOWS (p. 869)!

This is the only cooking plus of living in Colorado--there is near zero humidity and that is terrific for candy.

The first step was to sprinkle some gelatin over water. Unflavored gelatin smells absolutely awful and is extremely similar to the smell at a packing plant. I must say, that didn't make me feel very confident about the recipe. At this point you aren't supposed to mix it--just leave it for five minutes to "soften the gelatin".

The bowl is then to be placed over a pot of simmering water for 2-3 minutes or "until the gelatin dissolves". It took FOREVER to get the gelatin dissolved. There were huge chunks that did NOT want to get whisked out. It took at least ten minutes.

I think it's a bad sign when the recipe states that you shouldn't even attempt the recipe if you don't have a heavy-duty mixer. Fortunately (thanks mom!) I do have one.

The next step was to mix sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Easy enough, although it took longer than it was supposed to (likely due to the altitude). At this point, I started to get nervous. I think candy is the most difficult thing to learn from a book. It seems like someone should be standing with me and telling me when things were at the correct point. Alas, that was not possible, so I bravely went on :)

The mixture needed to be heated to 244 degrees without stirring. It is very difficult for me not to stir. It always seems like you should be stirring the mix to make sure that it doesn't burn...

That step took FOREVER. I've noticed that other bloggers have these awesome little remote thermometer that allow them to wander away from the pot--I think that is something that I may have to invest in. I was really nervous because the recipe made it VERY clear that it would be a big mistake to let it overheat.

The corn syrup mix then had to be slowly mixed into the gelatin and beat for ten to fifteen minutes. The recipe than said that the mixture should be beat until it is "thick and fluffy but stillw arm and thin enough to pour". It's directions like this that I HATE. How in the heck will I know when it's the correct texture? Some vanilla is then mixed in--I figure this could be any sort of flavoring (ie mint for Christmas? That would be GREAT in cocoa).

A cool action shot!

I eventually decided it looked fluffy and still seemed warm. I poured the mix into a big pan...and it was NOT easy to pour. It was a lot like pouring marshmallow cream--difficult and sticky.

It's then left for about a day to dry out. I have a feeling that this would be difficult if you were in a more humid climate. I wasn't confident at all in them at this point. Marshmallows are usually puffy! These weren't puffy at all. I was really worried that my marshmallows were going to be tough.

Josh pointed out that the marshmallows in the store say "jet-puffed" and that insinuates that homemade marshmallows are not puffed in the same way...that made me feel better.

When the marshmallows were set, I removed them and cut them into cubes using kitchen shears dusted in cornstarch and then rolled them in a powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture. It's great because you can control the size of the marshmallow--either make big, normal, or tiny marshmallows.

I then packed them up, between layers of parchment paper, in an airtight container.

So how were they? Tasty and tender (not tough at all)! Well, tasty might be an overstatement, they really tasted like sweet nothing, but isn't that what all marshmallows taste like?

So the obvious questions came to will homemade marshmallows work in cocoa, s'mores, rice crispy treats? Hmmm....

I'll start with the easiest one--Quick Hot Cocoa (p. 36). I'm not usually very interested in cocoa, I'll admit that first. But this recipe is extremely easy--first, you measure out some cocoa syrup (which I made in the last blog). I'll warn doesn't measure easily! Remember to multiply the recipe by however many cups you are making--I made enough for both Josh and me.

Next, you mix in milk and some heavy cream. I LOVE heavy cream so this is obviously a recipe for me! It wasn't as easy to do this as you would expect...the syrup did NOT want to mix with the milk/cream. Eventually, they melded.

Poor it in a cup, top with some mini marshmallows, and it's ready to go!

So how was it? DELICIOUS! Wow--incredibly good. Chocolaty but not overly sweet. The marshmallows were AWESOME in the cocoa. They almost totally melted. One of the things I don't like about store bought marshmallows is that the rubbery edge never seems to totally melt and I don't like that edge. Totally not a problem with these marshmallows--they were soft and delicious.

I cannot recommend making these marshmallows enough. It was also really fun giving them to people--the most common comment was "I didn't know you could make marshmallows from scratch".

My question to you--I'm considering making marshmallows as favors for our wedding. Our colors are chocolate and sand with pink flowers and I'm thinking that I could dye marshmallows pink and make chocolate marshmallows....what do you guys think? Would you like getting these as a favor?

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  1. That's a great idea! Creative and personal. And above all, tasty!

  2. Oooh I wish I had a mixer to make these. Marshmallow favors are a great idea, if it's not too big of a project!!


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