Sunday, September 26, 2010

Time to Make the Marshmallows

There’s a fire pit sitting in my back yard looking all forlorn and lonely. I want to turn it over, set it on the grass, fill it with wood and light it up.

I want to toast marshmallows until they’re charred and almost dripping off the stick. I want to tilt back in my chair, watch the night sky, sip some wine.

I have been waiting for this all summer, waiting through the swampy heat and humidity, waiting for a suitably cooler evening. It’s almost here.

Time to make the marshmallows!

Makes about 50 2” squares

Note--- these can be made using a hand mixer however, I’d urge you to borrow a good stand mixer (my borrow is a KitchenAid) if you don’t have one. It will save a lot of wear and tear on your mixer and your back.

• About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
• 1 cup cold water, divided in half
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup light corn syrup
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 large egg whites from very fresh eggs
• 1 tablespoon vanilla


• Grease the bottom and sides of a rectangular 9x13x2 inch metal baking pan with plain vegetable oil, then heavily dust the bottom and sides with confectioners’ sugar.
• In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup ice water and let sit about 5 minutes to soften.
• In a heavy duty 3 quart saucepan, cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes.
• Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
• With standing, or a hand-held electric mixer, beat sugar mixture on high speed until white, thick and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer.
• In separate medium bowl, using very clean and dry beaters, whisk the egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks.
• Fold beaten whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan
• This is the hardest part of the entire process. The mixture is very sticky and is difficult to spread evenly in the prepared pan. You will also not be able to get every bit of it out of the mixing bowl. Use a lighty oiled spatula to spread the mix evenly in the pan and use what’s left in the bowl for tasting. When you’ve had your fill, soak it immediately in hot soapy water to make for an easier clean up.
• Sift 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow uncovered for at least three hours.
• Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board that has been sprinkled lightly with confectioner’s sugar. Lift up one corner of the inverted pan and with your fingers ease the marshmallow onto a cutting board. Use a large lightly oiled knife to trim the edges of marshmallow and then cut into roughly two-inch cubes. (If you have one, an oiled pizza cutter works well here also.)
• Sift remaining confectioner’s sugar back into the now-empty baking pan and roll the marshmallow squares through it, coating all sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away in an airtight container.
• Marshmallows will keep at cool room temperature for 2 weeks