Friday, June 12, 2009

You Put the Mallow on the Graham - Marshmallows

Once again, I'm about to hit the road for the weekend. Boonville ho! Nothing like camping in the middle of the Anderson Valley. It's serious wine country up there and also happens to be home to a several great breweries. So I'm packing up my mason jar for stylish beverage consumption, filling the cooler with sausages, peppers, onions and corn for grilling and finalizing the ipod road trip mix (many thanks to Brian for fixing my ipod car contraption) which will be comprised of songs that were made for the open road:

Old 97's - Drowning in the Days
Neko Case - People Got a Lotta Nerve
Radiohead - Electioneering
Ryan Adam's - Beautiful Sorta
Wilco - Wilco Will Love You Baby
The Dodo's - Joe's Waltz
M. Ward - the entire Hold Time album (I've had this on constant repeat since picking it up while Beth was visiting, I now think of it as the current soundtrack to my life)

I'm itching to get on the road. I've been dying to go camping in Mendocino County for awhile. Just one thing to do before I hit the pavement. Make marshmallows. There's just nothing better for sitting around a campfire with friends.

I admit, I was intimidated. For such small, unassuming little things, they do seem daunting when you consider making them yourself for the first time. I dove in feet first with gelatin, two kinds of sugar, egg whites and vanilla. Luckily it wasn't nearly as hard as I'd expected it to be. I used this recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. Others I looked at included crazy things, such as potato starch (where does one pick up potato starch these days?) and this recipe seemed a bit more my speed. Success! These babies are coming on the road with me!

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows

1 cup powdered sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin (such as knox)
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean or other flavored extract)

Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer.

In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan. Sift 1/4 cup powdered sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. Sift remaining powdered sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.

Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.

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