Sunday, October 28, 2012

Peppermint Marshmallows

Let me start out by saying that I kind of hate marshmallows.  Really, unless they are in cocoa (and I prefer whipped cream anyway) or in s'mores (there is no better substitute in s'mores) I stay far away from them.  I even prefer Scotcharoos (not made with marshmallows) to traditional Rice Krispie Treats (made with marshmallows).  So, why on earth would I learn to make marshmallows?  Well, really, it is because I am hoping that we will someday be able to throw a beautiful s'mores party for all of our friends and/or family (like the ones we've all seen on Pinterest) and how much more impressive and fun is a s'mores party with homemade fun flavored marshmallows?

I have been making marshmallows for a little over a year now.  I make them in all kinds of flavors, vanilla bean, chocolate, banana, orange cream, toasted coconut, apple, and peppermint.  You can make them in pretty much any flavor you can think of (and that you can get extract or flavoring oils in).

In case you've been living under a rock, hurricane Sandy is heading towards the east coast (where I happen to live right now), and bringing with her lots of wind and rain...and much cooler temperatures this coming week, so it's looking like hot cocoa weather and these peppermint marshmallows are excellent in hot cocoa. Plus, I was going through my pictures on my laptop the other day and Punk saw this picture:

Homemade peppermint marshmallows top hot chocolate on a stick.  Great for gift giving and super yummy.

He immediately asked if I would make him some "red square marshmallows".  I told him I would make them as soon as I could.  I then realized that I didn't have gelatin (which is strange, because I usually DO have it, but since we moved I hadn't picked any up yet).  Punk eats these out of hand, I love them in cocoa, it works out for both of us.

So, tonight I made yummy marshmallows and thought to myself when I taste tested them as I was putting them in the pan "Man, if people knew how easy and how yummy homemade marshmallows were, it would put Jet Puffed right out of business."

What you need:

A stand mixer with a whisk attachment (please don't try to do this with a hand mixer it will likely blow out your mixer).
A candy thermometer (again, don't do this without one, marshmallows are candy, they need to be cooked to a specific molten lava-esque temperature you can't guess at this)
A saucepan
9x13 pan
Cooking spray (I use regular Pam)

3 small envelopes of unflavored gelatin (I've never used flavored and, no, I wouldn't recommend it or try it)
1 cup of very cold water (divided)
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
flavorings of choice (for peppermint I use 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract)

"Marshmallow Dust"
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Empty your three envelopes of gelatin into the bottom of your stand mixer bowl.  Add 1/2 cup very cold water, stir together and set aside.  In a saucepan place 1/2 cup water, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, and 1/4 tsp salt, stir together and place over medium to medium-high heat.  Clip candy thermometer to side of saucepan.  Cook to 240° stirring occasionally.**

While you are waiting for the mixture to reach 240°:

Mix your corn starch and powdered sugar together (I call this "marshmallow dust" and just keep a container of it in my baking stuff).  Spray your 9x13 pan with cooking spray and coat with "marshmallow dust" (just put a few table spoons of the mixture into the pan and bump the pan around until your pan is coated then shake the rest out), you will need some of your marshmallow dust to coat the top and sides of your marshmallows after they are cut so don't use it all here!

Place your whisk attachment into your mixer.  Once your sugar has reached 240° turn your mixer on it's LOWEST SETTING and SLOWLY add your molten sugar mixture into your mixer with the gelatin (you won't get it all out, that is okay, don't try to get every drop, just pour it until it won't pour anymore, you don't want to risk touching this ish).  Once all of your sugar is in the bowl cover your mixer with a towel (so it doesn't splatter) and turn it up as high as it goes.  In a few minutes (my mixer takes about 5 minutes, but less powerful mixers can take longer, up to 15 minutes) you will have white, fluffy, luke warm, marshmallow yumminess.  When you have a white fluffy mixture you can add in your flavorings and any coloring you might want to use and mix them in using the mixer thoroughly.

Now you want to take a spatula sprayed with Pam and put your fluffy yummy marshmallows into the prepared pan.  You aren't going to get every bit out, it's okay, that's the part you just sacrifice, get what you can out and move on.  Once you have your mixture in the pan you want to wet your hands a little (yes YOUR HANDS they are often your best tool in the kitchen) and use them to smooth your marshmallows into the pan, if your hands stick they aren't quite wet enough.  Once you have the marshmallows smoothed out set them aside for about an hour.  Then you want to sprinkle the top of your marshmallows with marshmallow dust.

Wait at least four hours (I usually just wait overnight) then you can cut your marshmallows however you like. I am fond of just cutting mine into 1" squares using my pizza cutter, but you can use cookie cutters if you want to make fun shapes.†  After you have cut your marshmallows dust the cut sides with marshmallow dust to keep them from sticking.

These are NOT like store bought marshmallows, but they will last almost as long.  I've had them stay good in a ziplock bag for over 6 months.  They make a great addition to a cocoa gift for friends, neighbors, or co-workers.  And since you took all the time to make marshmallows don't feel bad giving store bought cocoa!

**240 degrees is MOLTEN HOT, please do not touch it, please do not let your children anywhere near it.  I do this when my kids are either in bed for the night or taking a nap, I just can't risk them grabbing this off the stove.

† If you use cookie cutters don't throw away the scraps, cut them into funky shaped mini marshmallows and dust them with marshmallow dust to use in your cocoa or let your kids eat them out of hand like I do!

Due to lots of requests for this recipe I'm going to post this blog before I take pictures of the marshmallows I made tonight, but I'll add in pictures tomorrow (or as soon as Sandy lets me!).

Punk is going to be so happy to see these in the morning!

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