Sunday, January 4, 2009

It Shouldn't Be This Easy

Homemade marshmallows should be much more difficult to prepare. They really should.

A simple, sugary recipe is dangerous. The ease with which I made these marshmallows suggests that I could make them again and again. That, as you can imagine, would be a real problem for someone who has vowed in a not-quite-a-New-Year's-resolution way to eat less refined sugar.*

If you subscribe to Bon Appetit, you probably read Molly Wizenberg's article in July 2008 about homemade marshmallows. As Ms. Wizenberg is the funny and literary author of the blog Orangette, I read her article with interest, however, I had no real desire to try the marshmallow recipe. It was July and nothing could tempt me to stand in my sweltering Florida kitchen over a boiling pot of sugar.

Last week, though, my mother commented that it might be fun to make homemade marshmallows while I was home. With snow on the ground and the light dim the way it is before a snowstorm, we inhaled sugary steam from a bubbling saucepan then watched as the mixture was whipped from a syrup to a resin to a gum in my mom's upright food mixer. We patted our piece of elastic vanilla candy into a pan to set overnight. In the morning, we dusted the set marshmallow block with powdered sugar and corn starch, then cut a few sample cubes.

Delicious. Meltingly so. Best eaten in quantities with your fingers while standing at the counter with sugar powder on your chin.

Way too easy, this one. If your resolutions require you to restrict your calories or sugar-intake, think twice before making these. If you step off the path of Goodness and Discipline, go for it with abandon.**

Molly Wizenberg's Homemade Marshmallows
From this recipe featured in Bon Appetit, July 2008

Most of the time involved in this recipe is rest time; the active preparation time requires no more than 25 minutes. You will need a reliable candy thermometer, preferably one that will latch to the side of your saucepan. Try to restrain yourself when the finished product sits before you, but don't be too hard on yourself when you find that you cannot.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup cold water, divided
3 1/4-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup potato starch (you can substitute corn starch, as I did)
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Line a 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil.

Coat the foil lightly with nonstick spray. Pour 1/2 cup cold water into bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs water, at least 15 minutes.

Combine 2 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cold water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat and bring syrup to boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240°F, about 8 minutes.

With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in thin stream down side of bowl (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk, as it may splash). Gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick and stiff, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to blend, about 30 seconds longer.

Scrape marshmallow mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top with wet spatula. Let stand uncovered at room temperature until firm, about 4 hours.

Stir potato starch and powdered sugar in small bowl to blend. Sift generous dusting of starch-sugar mixture onto work surface, forming rectangle slightly larger than 13x9 inches. Turn marshmallow slab out onto starch-sugar mixture; peel off foil. Sift more starch-sugar mixture over marshmallow slab. Coat large sharp knife (or cookie cutters) with nonstick spray. Cut marshmallows into squares or other shapes. Toss each in remaining starch-sugar mixture to coat. Transfer marshmallows to rack, shaking off excess mixture.

Makes: 50 1" x 1" marshmallows

*Before you abandon this blog, please note that I did not say I've cut out all sugar. I just said I would eat less. I won't take you down with me.

**Then again, I never promised to be a good influence.

1 comment:

muddywaters said...

Doesn't Molly's book come out in the next couple of months?

This looks like another great recipe my daughter would have fun with, so we'll let you know if we try it.

You've been busy. I'm a bit behind reading your posts, but I'm look forward to the reading.

take care,