Herewith I present to you pictorial evidence that marshmallows and the making thereof are not at all scary.
Did you see my post over at Romance on the Rocks before Thanksgiving? Well, if not, go check it out. It's delicious. Seriously. It's some of my favorite recipes and it includes a phenomenal recipe for sweet potato casserole with homemade marshmallows from one of...what's that? Oh, yes, I did say "homemade marshmallows." You don't believe me? Really? Well, here's my evidence:
Marshmallows are one of the simplest things in the world to make. They are literally nothing but gelatin, sugar and water. That's it. Until you get funky and start adding flavors and colors.
So, you wanna learn how to make them? First of all, I want you to head over to Stella Parks' BraveTart website and see her instructions on basic marshmallows as well as the sage ones for the sweet potatoes. I will try just about any recipe that she posts. I'm a little bit in love with her.
You will need three special tools for these recipes, but they are common and not expensive if you need to buy them:
Kitchen scale (because Stella measures everything in weight, not volume)
Stand mixer (because boiled sugar and gelatin will murder the motor of a hand mixer)
Candy thermometer (I used to be incredibly intimidated by these, but they aren't scary either!)
I'm not going to copy the recipe here. Stella is a fantastic writer and I want you to read through her work. But if you get confuzzled during the making of your marshmallows, or you're not sure exactly what something is supposed to look like at a certain stage, I'm adding the photos as your supplement reading homework.
First, gather your ingredients!
These are the fancy sage marshmallows, so if you're not making this particular flavor, don't worry about the butter or greenery.
Though the greenery does look quite pretty when you process it into your sugar...
Next step is easy - gelatin, water, stir, ignore
Now gently mix your sugar, corn syrup and water in a largeish pot and let it start to boil. If you're like me, and you experiment without really knowing what you're doing, you'll add WAY too much homemade cinnamon extract (vodka and a cinnamon stick that have been osmosising for a year) and turn your sugar water blood-red. On the other hand, if you're making the sage marshmallows, your green sage flakes will be gorgeous.
Boil, baby, boil! Don't forget to stick the thermometer in so you can watch the temperature. If you did maybe add 8 gallons too much of red vodka, your sugar water will try to boil out of the pot rather than reaching the proper temp, which is why you should always follow instructions.
After annihilating three stuffy toys and strewing their fuzzy guts about the house, maybe your dog will lie down and watch you cook as well.
Once your sugar has boiled up to 240 degrees and cooled back down to 210, carefully pour it into the bowl of patiently waiting gelatin. Turn the mixer on low to ensure the sugar doesn't splash out, and let it mix until it starts to thicken. As it thickens, you can increase the mixer speed. This liquid stage is also a good time to add any flavors or food coloring, if you haven't colored with red vodka.
In the meantime, if you're making the sage marshmallows, brown your butter. If you've never browned butter, it's simple. Put butter in a skillet, melt on medium and swirl it around a little until it turns brown. If you're unsure here, go back to Stella's page, because she gives more specific instructions.
Basically, you're caramelizing the milk solids of the butter, and as they cook, they lend this fabulous nutty, sweet aroma and flavor to the butter. It's best to do this in a light colored skillet if you have one, so you can watch the color change. But if you only have dark pans, don't despair. Watch it carefully, and when you can smell the nuttiness, you're done!
Now add the butter to your 'mallows...
Once the marshmallows have about tripled in size and are shiny instead of bubbly, you can pour them out into your prepared pan. It's at this point that I add color for a marble effect. Stop the mixer completely, add your drops of color, then turn the mixer back on low and watch the color spin out. You don't want it to incorporate all the way, so only let the whisk pull through 3-5 times.
Stella says you can use a spatula to fold in the color, but I think that just makes more mess. And marshmallows are incredibly messy if you're not careful!
Dust with powdered sugar - the simplest way is through a mesh strainer - then stick them in the fridge for a few hours. When you're ready to cut them, be ready to poof copious amounts of powdered sugar around your kitchen. There are a thousand ways to cut them - chef's knife, pastry cutter, plain ol' scissors - but the easiest is with a pizza cutter. Just be sure to hold the end you're slicing toward because the 'mallow will stretch the farther you cut and throw off your shapes.
Et voila! You've just made marshmallows!
I give them away as Christmas presents. This year we have the cinnamon (pink from the red vodka with a red swirl), peppermint (green with pink swirl) and one night this week I'll make a bourbon batch as well.
And the great thing about working with sugar...it melts in hot water, making clean up relatively easy.
Go make some marshmallows! Tell me what flavors you decide on and if you do something fun with them!