March 31, 2010
Fluffy, Puffy Little Clouds
I'm not usually a recipe follower, baking excepted, but I am an exhaustive recipe researcher. It's easy for me to get lost in cookbooks and on the internet reading recipe after recipe; scrolling through all the comments to see what others felt worked or fell short. Then I take alllll that information and make up my own version. Seriously, how did anyone live without the internet?
My journey with marshmallows started months ago. They look innocent enough: simple ingredient list, straight forward directions yielding homey little squares to challenge those iconic tubular Jet-Puff marshmallows. Yet I kept reading lackluster tales of rubbery impostors and kitchens covered in sticky stringy goo. Not to mention how wildly different each recipe was from the next. I became wary. And so I dropped the idea for a good couple months.
I'm not even sure what brought me back to the marshmallow idea, but back it came, and this time I was ready for the challenge. After another lengthy session of research I settled on an Alton Brown recipe. The man knows his food science so surely his recipe would lead me through this experiment successfully. And did it ever. With only slightly gummed up kitchen shears and the occasional poof of powdered sugar/cornstarch mix on the counter, there were no awful kitchen clean-ups to speak of. The recipe makes nearly 10 dozen little fluffy pillow-y clouds, which is far too much for a girl to keep around, so I packaged them up in little paper bag parcels and gave them away to friends. And although the looks I got when I told people I made them, from scratch, was as if I were crazy if not a little bit brilliant, they sure were tasty roasted over a friend's backyard fire pit.
Adapted from Alton Brown
Aprox. 9 ½ dozen
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar (about 1 ½ cups)
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping.
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture, or kitchen shears. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.