Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Magical, Mystical Marshmallows

Ok people -- listen up! There is no need to ever eat one of those sorry, chewy, bouncy things that grocery stores call marshmallows ever again. I promise!

My newest obsession is making marshmallows from scratch. I know what you're thinking..."Oh come on Chris, you have got to be kidding. Marshmallows? REALLY? Like I have TIME for this???" Oh yes you do my friend, oh yes you do.
Let's be real here: In most households, marshmallow consumption is not an everyday thing. Marshmallows are a special treat. They are amazing with cocoa, really great (and totally necessary) in s'mores, and good for the occasional nibble. Other than that, you don't typically use too many (It's still ok to use store bought for Rice Krispie treats :). Besides, imagine your kid's, spouse's, or even your own face when these work out so beautifully.

Let's walk through it, shall we?

Step one: Soften your gelatin in cold water.

Well, what the heck does that mean? Short answer (and I'm totally guessing here, but it's an educated guess): Professional pastry chefs use gelatin in long sheets, not the powdered stuff we get from Knox at the grocery store. Gelatin sheets are placed in cold water and actually do soften. I'm pretty sure that's where the terminology comes from. For our purposes, sprinkle the powdered gelatin over cold water and let it expand and get semi-firm.

Step Two: Bring some water, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil and cook to 240-degrees (soft ball stage).

Step Three: Take some egg whites and beat them to stiff, but not dry, peaks. Essentially, beat them to stiff peaks but make sure that they still look glossy and pretty, not kind of stiff and almost broken up.

Step Four: Remove the sugar mixture from the heat and add the gelatin. Stir gently until the gelatin is dissolved.

Step Five: Turn on your mixture to the lowest setting and pour the blazing hot sugar mixture into the egg whites. BE CAREFUL!! Hot sugar is like napalm -- really. IMHO (in my humble opinion), sugar burns are the worst. DO NOT let your children help you with this part. I mean it. You do this one.

Step Six: Add some flavoring and turn the mixer up to high (woo hoo!) and beat for 10 minutes or until fluffy and high and gorgeous. The mixer bowl will also be cool to the touch when it's ready. We also added a little food coloring to make them pink. Here's a hint: Use a touch more food coloring than you think you should. As the air is beaten in they will get lighter in color.

Step Seven: Spread the yummy, gooey marshmallow mixture into a greased (this is important!!!) 9x13 pan. Top with a sheet of parchment paper that you have sprayed with Pam or the like, pressing onto the surface of the marshmallows.

Step Eight: The hard part...Just let them set on the counter overnight. That's it. Really. And seriously, you won't believe how good they really are. The melt just right on cocoa and make it so delicious. I would not lie. You can even cut them out into shapes if you like (we did hearts, but squares are just as good and less wasteful):

Here's a recipe I like from Martha Stewart's web site:
Just skip the fudge part of the recipe because it's tricky to do and really not even necessary, at least for our purposes.

FYI : We're actually going to make our own marshmallow chicks in our Easter Treats class on March 15. Use secret code MARSH to take $20 off the class if you register by March 12. This is a special offer just for blog readers and your friends.

Bon appetit my friends, and happy marshmallowing!!


Anonymous said...

What "flavoring" do you recommend?
They look spectacular. I don't think I'd called heart shapes a waste - just not for guests' consumption?!?!

Chef Christine said...

I use vanilla, vanilla bean paste if I'm not going with pink (I love those little flecks!), or peppermint extract, 2 teaspoons is just about right. Now that I think about it, coconut extract might be fun , or really any pure extract you could find. Just remember to consider how it will be used.

We gave the hearts to my daughter's class for Valentine's day. They were really big and would probably take up the entire top of the mug. The rectangles are perfectly great as is -- we just wanted to get fancy for the holiday.

Unknown said...


edge said...

Good followup to last post: pink marshmallow hearts following food=love.

Hubby and I will be moving to Frederick end of March, I'd love to see a post about where you get your ingredients, and what seasonal goodies you're anticipating this spring.

Have fun,

Chef Christine said...

Hi Edge, and welcome (almost) to bucolic Frederick! I'll work this out for you and see what I can come up with. Just as a teaser, of course you can't go wrong at the local farmer's markets, especially Baughman's Lane on Saturday mornings. Let me kow any specifics you're interested in and I'll steer in that direction. I could talk about food all day...

Beth said...

My daughter loves homemade marshmallows. We made some on Friday and this time used pink sanding sugar instead of confectioner's. We did bunny shapes. They almost looked like the ones you could buy in the store and tasted much better.