Monday, November 19, 2007

Marshmallow Dreams

My family will confirm that I am no baker, and indeed I barely have a sweet tooth. But I do have to admit to one weakness: marshmallows. Now it is a great thing that one can find marshmallows in those nice bags in the grocery store, but let's admit it - they taste stale. I think the only halfway decent marshmallow out of each bag is the very first one. Sure, they might still be edible years from now, but would you really want to?
So it was with much joy and jubilation when I found a recipe for homemade marshmallows from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. I dutifully purchased the necessary ingredients and set aside a morning to make this confection. Having not made candy since chemistry class in high school, I was a bit apprehensive, but things went well and with a few alterations to the directions, I found that I had a winner.

Now fast forward to today. I decided that I would make marshmallows for our family's Thanksgiving Day get-together.

The players for today's show: granulated sugar, kosher salt, unflavored gelatine, light corn syrup, real vanilla extract, and Lyle's Golden Syrup (since I didn't have enough light corn syrup for the recipe).

I used a small binder clip to hold the temperature probe in the right place.

The sugar mixture is heating. The digital temperature probe is set to go off at 240 degrees.

While I wait for the sugar mixture to come to temperature, I line a baking dish with parchment paper.

The sugar mixture has been added to the gelatine that had been disolved in some cold water. I begin mixing with my cheap old hand mixer and set the timer for 15 minutes.

Five minutes have gone by and the mixture is beginning to turn white. Seven minutes in, the mixer begins to struggle. Will my daughter's wish come true and the hand mixer die so that we have to get a Kitchen Aid pink hand mixer?

After ten minutes the mixture is noticibly thicker and whiter. At this point I must continually 'dip' the mixer down into the mixture and then pull it back up. The poor mixer would certainly expire if I were to force the matter.

At the 11 minute mark I add the vanilla extract. I promise, Ina, that when this bottle is empty I will buy the "good stuff".

I quit mixing with two minutes left on the clock. I do believe we have reached our desired goal here. Sadly, the mixer survived its ordeal.

Into the pan the marshmallow fluff goes. This will now sit out on the counter for 24 hours and then tomorrow I will turn this slab out onto a cutting board. Then I will cut 1-inch squares and toss them in confectioners sugar.

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