Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Doctor *is* always right.

I have met an incredible number of dedicated, passionate students studying medicine in the last 7 years. One of my absolute favorites from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Dr. HB, also had a master's degree in nutrition, so in addition to being an incredible doctor, she is also an amazing cook and baker. 

I remember the time she gifted me with homemade marshmallows. 

To this child of the 70's and 80's, marshmallows were the puffy, uber white creations you got in a plastic bag - more often than not for either hot cocoa (in the winter) or s'mores (in the summer). I naturally assumed there were 86 ingredients, 3 hours of time and a legion of baking utensils and such needed, and said so to Dr. HB at the time - marveling that she went to all that trouble. She said very matter-of-factly, is my recollection, that no, they were not really hard to make, and I should try it sometime. 

That was 2008, possible 2009. 

This being the year of 95% home-made & heart-felt gifts, I started pondering handmade prezzies, mainly for the aunts, uncles, and cousins on Spouse's side, as we'll see most everyone during the end of December. The ladies are not difficult, but as a fairly girlie girl, what could I make for the uncles to enjoy? Homemade marshmallows, because who doesn't love marshmallows? NOBODY, that's who.

Since I eschew all things corn syrupy, I needed to do some research as most homemade marshmallow recipes call for corn syrup or it's Evil Cousin, high fructose corn syrup. Nah gonnah do it. 

The recipe I found called for six items: gelatin, water, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. 
I used one saucepan, one 9" x 9" baking pan, a set of measuring spoons, one 1-cup measuring cup, my handheld mixer with one set of beaters, one spatula, and two spoons. That's it. 

It took me approximately 30 minutes to get the marshmallows in the pan, and about an hour for them to set enough so that I could cut them out of the pan. Although we had social plans, so I let them chillax in the frig overnight before actually cutting them out of the pan.

My recipe called for cutting 1.5" squares, but I really like to have my marshmallows all melty and gooey in my hot cocoa, so I made them decidedly smaller - more like .5" or less. 

Homemade Marshmallows without corn syrup

2 tablespoons gelatin (2 envelopes Knox)
8 tablespoons cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Powdered/confectioner's sugar

1. Dust an 8- or 9-inch square pan with powdered sugar. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, soak gelatin in 8 T cold water. Set aside.
3. Combine granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water in large heavy saucepan.
4. Stir sugar and water over medium heat until dissolved (about 8-10 minutes).
5. Add gelatin to sugar syrup and bring to a boil. (don't take your eyes away from it)
6. Remove from heat. Pour into a large mixing bowl and let stand until partially cooled.
7. Add salt and vanilla extract.
8. Beat with an electric mixer until soft and contents double in volume. About 10-15 minutes. Or in my case, when your electric mixer gets hot-ish and you worry it's going to give out. 
9. Pour into prepared pan to about 1/2 inch thick. 
10. Set to cool until it will not stick to your finger. 
11. Cut into 1.5 inch pieces and roll in powdered sugar.
12. Store in an airtight container. 
13. Try not to eat all of them before you gift them. 

These are seriously yummy. Delightfully fluffy and chewy, and really delightful flavor. Way better than the Sta-Puft kind you get at your local big box joint. I may have to pull out the Silly Cow hot cocoa and toss in a few to see how they melt. YUM. 

Here are my deviations/observations:
- Recall my note about not taking your eyes away from the stove after you add the gelatin and bring it to a boil. SERIOUSLY. It foams up. Quickly. I did not make a mess (I truly didn't), but I could easily see myself doing so, had I not been vigilant. 
- I used demerara sugar and other than it taking a few more minutes to dissolve, also gave the marshmallows a lovely tan hue. 
- Being excited about the possibility of being a baking genius, AGAIN, I neglected to even look for kosher/veg gelatin. If you don't know what gelatin is, trust me, you will really prefer kosher/veg gelatin. I totally will next time. Sorry, my aminal loving friends - I promise to only give you veg kinds if you'll give me some time!
- As if I only used 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract! Honestly, after I added the 2 teaspoons, I had just a smidge left in the bottle, so decided what they hay. Probably added 4 teaspoons total. 
- Also added in a 1/2 teaspoon of my Princess Emulsion
- My hand mixer is basically ancient by all standards so seriously, by the time I decided I had mixed the marshmallow fluff enough, the motor area was warmish. Oops. 
- I put aluminium foil on top and put them in the frig to chillax. After an hour, they were ready to cut out. 
- I used a pizza cutter as my first line of cutting defense and it worked really well. Still had some auxiliary slicing to do, to get the marshmallows totally separated, but not as much as I suspect had I not used the pizza cutter. 
- Cutting them slightly smaller, I got probably about 3 dozen. I didn't actually count....oops.

I think there are definite parts that would be kid-friendly, especially the mixing and rolling the small pieces in powdered sugar. A mess might get made, but that is half the fun of holiday baking and especially with special helpers in the kitchen. 

I pre-posted on the Facebooks that I was making them and a high school friend, herself an amazing baker/chef, absolutely blew my brain with more flavoring ideas. BFF is simply going to plotz over maple syrup marshmallows. 

We're woefully behind on all things winter holiday, so this was my first holiday baking. Have some other treats planned though. For now, I'm basking in my complete bad-ass-ness over making these! Thank you Dr. HB and hope I get to share some with you soon!!!

What have you made so far? 
Or what do you hope to make before the winter holidays are here? 
Have you ever tried homemade marshmallows? 

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