Sunday, October 14, 2012

Challenge #4: Homemade Marshmallows

When I recently got the craving for s'mores, I decided it was time to belly up to the bar and try making homemade marshmallows, which do intimidate me!  I've read so many stories about marshmallow disasters, so I've been very reluctant to wade into the sticky mess of marshmallow.  Not to mention I suspect the cleanup must be rather "fun".

Since I didn't have overly great luck on my very first cookie sheet/batch of graham crackers using Smitten Kitchen's recipe, I decided to give her marshmallow recipe a try.

Making marshmallow appears to be quite straight forward - you cook sugar, salt, water, and corn syrup until it reaches 240 degrees, then you pour it over "bloomed" gelatin (just a fancy way of saying you added gelatin to water and let it sat until it turned into a thick, jelly blob).

When the thermometer reaches around 200 degrees, I start beating the egg whites until they reach stiff peak stage.  In this case, the "ball" of egg whites in the upper corner came about when I smacked the whisk beater on the side of the bowl.  I added in vanilla bean paste with the egg whites before I started whipping because I wanted to make sure the flavor was mixed in very well.

If you add flavoring, DO NOT add anything that has a fat base, or else your egg whites will not whip.  I learned that lesson a few years ago on another cooking project.  It's also why cook books will tell you, "If you get any amount of egg yolk in your egg whites, throw it out."  Egg yolks are pure fat, and fat will keep you from achieving a good whip.

The temperature of the stove top sugar mix has reached 240 degrees and has been poured over the gelatin mix.  I started this on low until the gelatin mixed in, and then slowly kept increasing the speed until the mixer ran at its top speed.

Look at how beautiful this whipped sugar mix is!  If I didn't know any better, I'd say this was done, but it's not.  It sure as heck looks just like marshmallow, but it's not quite there yet.

I've added in the egg yolks to the whipped sugar base for the second to last step.

And here's the last step: spray the pan and dust it with confectioners sugar very well.  Pour the mix into a deep baking pan (9" x 13"), sprinkle/dust the top with more confectioners sugar, and then put the pan into the fridge and let it chill for at least 3 hours.

Overall, this was a pretty easy recipe.  You do go through quite a few dishes in the process, and I can't tell you how thankful I am that I got another Kitchen Aid bowl for my machine (an early Christmas present from Fred) because I used both of them to make this recipe.  The mess was minimal, and surprisingly, as long as you use really hot water, the clean up isn't bad.

I gave Fred the beater and asked what he thought.  He was in love with the fresh taste of marshmallow, and when I was about to toss the bowl in the sink, he shrieked and asked for the bowl so he could "finger clean" it.  I guess that means this is a "please make this again!!" recipe since it's "Fred approved". 

Happy Eats!    :)

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