January 6, 2011

Peppermint Marshmallows

 You may be sick of sweets, but if you're anything like me, even a self-imposed "sugar detox" occasionally calls for something sweet.  You see, I'm not big on 'cutting out' but rather on 'cutting back.'  So even though I may not want to eat three Christmas cookies, that doesn't mean I'm not up for a less indulgent sweet treat.  To fit the bill, I've enlisted homemade hot chocolate topped with one of these Peppermint Marshmallows.

This was my first (and second... we'll get to this) time making marshmallows, and though the recipes weren't very difficult, there were definitely a few bumps along the way. 

The first recipe I tried was from Martha Stewart and, now, I've got a bone to pick with her.  To make a long story short, no amount of effort would dislodge these marshmallows from the plastic wrap I used to line the pan.  In retrospect, I should have know that un-greased plastic wrap and an unbelievably sticky mixture were a bad combination, but I trusted Martha, and I'll blame her for this one.   After successfully salvaging six or so poorly shaped marshmallows from the plastic wrap, I gave up and tossed the whole thing in the garbage.  On to recipe number two.

The next recipe I tried was from Gourmet and thankfully, this one worked beautifully thanks to a greased pan liberally dusted with confectioners sugar.  I did have a minor issue with the second recipe, but it was mostly due to my lack of proper kitchen equipment.

I'm not sure if everyone knows this, but I don't have a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer-- just my hands and a whisk.  Unfortunately, this marshmallow mixture gets so thick and so sticky that hands and a whisk simply aren't very effective.  After a few minutes of working out my arms, I transferred the mixture to my blender-- within 5 minutes,  the blender started smoking. 
 All was well in the end, but my marshmallows probably would have been a bit fluffier had I been properly equipped.  They still taste great, though.  And the swirls of food coloring, no matter how unnatural, make me happy, as does a warm fire, a first snow, and a mug of hot cocoa (with a peppermint marshmallow, of course).

Peppermint Marshmallows
Minimally adapted from Gourmet

about 1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hot water (about 115°F.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites*
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
red and green food coloring (optional)

*if egg safety is a problem in your area, substitute powdered egg whites reconstituted according to manufacturer's instructions
    Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners' sugar.  In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand to soften.

    In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, hot 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 or digital 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 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 a large bowl with cleaned beaters beat whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and peppermint extract into sugar mixture until just combined.

    Pour mixture into baking pan and dot with food coloring.  Using a toothpick, swirl the food coloring into the marshmallow mixture, working quickly.  Sift 1/4 cup confectioners― sugar evenly over top. Let the marshmallows sit, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.

    Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up 1 corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and let drop onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into desired size cubes. Sift remaining confectioners' sugar into a large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing to evenly coat. Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.

    No comments: