Setting the Bar High

Before we begin, let me get this out of the way. The last time I made marshmallows, I swore I would never do so again.

They’re sticky. And exacting. And, truth be told, unless they’re charred within an inch of life, I don’t really enjoy them that much. Okay, that might be overstating it, but I don’t enjoy them nearly enough to go through all of that effort to make them from scratch when there’s a perfectly good fall back option.

And, yet, here I was doing just that.

Because, I make things complicated.

There, I said it. In black and white print for all of the world to see.

And, now for the rationalization. You knew this was coming, right? This weekend, I’ll be hosting my Summer Picnic. It’s the third year, and I’m setting the bar high. It’s becoming a tradition, albeit one that’s slightly earlier this year, owning to some travel plans. Still.

The first year was all about learning the process. It was small, partially on the theory that if I charred the pork or made a mess of things, then it was easy enough to order pizza for 9 people. I think about these things.

Last year. Well, what is there to say about last year? A gathering of nine became a gathering of almost thirty. There were menu additions. And, eight pounds of pork devoured within the first hour.

Not content to rest on my laurels this year, I’m setting the bar high. Which means, in practical terms that the cooking has started. As has the culling of new recipes. When I saw a recipe for S’mores bars it seemed just thing.

Except that I cannot leave well enough alone. The thought process went something like this, If I’m already making the brownies, why wouldn’t I make the graham crackers, too?

I’m told that rational people don’t have thoughts like this, let alone act on them. Me? I was getting out the standing mixer and soon after covered in fluff. In case you’re wondering, I have gelatin at the ready, for situations such as this one.

Will my guests notice the from scratch difference? Hard to say, although I’m sure that I’ll be pointing it out each time someone takes a bite of something (I’m a great host, I swear).

One last thing, before we get to the recipe—having tasted the homemade marshmallows again, I’ll say this: They’re good. Really, really good..

Worth the effort in fact.

marshmallow1

Marshmallows
David Lebovitz

2 envelopes (17g) powdered gelatin or 17g sheet gelatin (8 to 10 sheets)
1/2 cup (125ml) + 1/3 cup (80ml) cold water
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/3 cup (100g) light corn syrup
4 large egg whites (1/2 cup, 110g), at room temperature
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Marshmallow Mix
One part corn starch (or potato starch), one part powdered sugar (about 1 cup, 140g, each)

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/2 cup (125ml) of cold water to dissolve and soften. If using leaf gelatin, soak the leaves in about 2 cups (500ml) cold water.

In a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, mix the sugar and corn syrup with 1/3 cup (80ml) of water. Place over medium-to-high heat.

(Note that you will use this saucepan twice, to make the syrup and melt the gelatin, eliminating the need to wash it between uses).

In the bowl of an electric mixer, pour in the egg whites and beat on low speed until frothy. Add the pinch of salt.

When the syrup reaches about 210ºF (99ºC), increase the speed of the mixer to high and beat the whites until they are thick and fluffy.

When the syrup reaches 245ºF (118ºC), slowly pour the hot syrup into the whites, pouring so that the syrup does not fall on the whisk since some of the syrup will splatter and stick to the sides of the bowl.

Scrape the gelatin and water into the pan that you used for the syrup, or put the gelatin sheets and 2 tablespoons of the water into the pan and swirl it to dissolve. (There should still be residual heat left in the pan from making the syrup in it to dissolve it).

Pour the liquified gelatin slowly into the whites as they are whipping. Add the vanilla extract or paste and continue to whip for 5 minutes, until the mixture is feels completely cool when you touch the outside of the bowl.

Dust a baking sheet evenly and completely with a generous layer of the marshmallow mixture. A sifter works well for this purpose. Make sure there are absolutely no bare spots.

Use a spatula to spread the marshmallows in a layer on the pan. Allow to dry for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, uncovered.

Put about 1 cup (140g) of the marshmallow mixture into a large bowl.

Dust the top of the marshmallows with some of the marshmallow mixture. Use a pizza cutter or scissors (dusted as well with the marshmallow mixture) to cut the marshmallows into any size or shape pieces that you’d like and toss the marshmallows in the marshmallow mixture. Shake the marshmallows vigorously in a wire strainer to remove the excess powder.

Alternatively, you can dust a baking sheet and put scoops of the marshmallow on it, and let them cool.

Makes 25-50 marshmallows, depending on marshmallows, depending on how you decide to cut them

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3 Comments

Filed under Dessert, Etc.

3 responses to “Setting the Bar High

  1. I’m flabbergasted and impressed you did this. I would read that and give up!

  2. Oh my goodness marshmallows! Marshmallows are one of those things that I really want to try, but am afraid that I’m going to mess up. (I have a fear of egg white related desserts i.e. macarons.) Yours look like it came together really well!

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