Vanilla Marshmallows

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I swear to God these are so easy to make. All you need is a candy thermometer. And the taste is undeniable -- it will destroy the standard store-bought marshmallows and you will never use them again. This recipe is based on Ina Garten's and is so easy. The key here is to use an excellent vanilla extract -- I like the vanilla bourbon from Williams-Sonoma the best. And the addition of vanilla beans just catapult this recipe straight into heaven. The powdered sugar is used to help the marshmallows not stick together, so don't be shy with it when dusting your pans. And they can be made days in advance and kept in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks to enjoy in hot cocoa or simply as is!

I know you will enjoy them this holiday season and throughout the year.

Vanilla Marshmallows
3 packages plain gelatin*
1 cup cold water, divided (1/2 cup for gelatin, 1/2 cup for sugar mixture)
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
about 1 cup of confectioner's sugar for dusting

Special Equipment: candy thermometer

Place the gelatin in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add 1/2 cup of the cold water to the gelatin. Let stand while you prepare the sugar syrup (do not mix the gelatin and water -- just let it activate itself on its own).

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup of cold water. Heat mixture on medium heat until sugar is dissolved, then crank the heat up to high and boil the mixture. Cook sugar mixture until a candy thermometer inserted reaches the temperature of 240 degrees. Remove the sugar mixture from the heat.

Turn your standing mixer on low speed. Very slowly add the sugar syrup to the gelatin while the mixer is on low speed. You'll want to sort of let the sugar mixture drizzle on the side of the standing mixer bowl and into the gelatin as it slowly combines. Once you've added all of your cooked sugar mixture, slowly crank up your standing mixer to the highest speed. Don't be alarmed by the steam coming from the bowl -- this is from the sugar mixture and normal, and is your chance to pretend you are are using liquid nitrogen on Top Chef. Mix the marshmallow mixture on the highest speed for exactly 15 minutes. It will be loud so do not do this when kids are sleeping. You are whisking a lot of air into the mixture which will make your marshmallows very fluffy and delicious. The mixture will turn white and when done, will look like melted marshmallows.

While the marshmallow mixture whips, prepare your pan. Dust desired pan (a standard glass lasagna dish will give you thinner marshmallows, a half lasagna dish size will give you thicker ones) very liberally with powdered sugar. You need to use a fine sieve for this to get that finely dusted texture and look for this. Go nuts -- I want to see a total carpet of sugar on the bottom of the pan. This will prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. Pour your marshmallow mixture right on top and even out with a spatula. Then dust the top of the marshmallows with more powdered sugar -- another insane coating -- and let stand overnight to set and dry out.

To cut marshmallows, simply gently remove the marshmallow layer out from its pan onto a smooth surface (a plastic cutting board works beautifully for this). Then using a pizza cutter, simply cut the desired size of marshmallow you like. Then separate each piece of marshmallow and roll the sides in more powdered sugar to prevent sticking.

Proceed with consuming or store in air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

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