Monday, December 15, 2008

Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

I am a rockstar, because I made marshmallows!

They were so easy, and so successful, that I have decided on my homemade gifts this year:
The ubiquitous jar of homemade cocoa mix, accompanied by homemade vanilla bean marshmallows, and maybe with a side of toffee (stay tuned).

I had heard that marshmallows were not that hard to make, and I have been more interested in candy making this year than the traditional cookie season here at Chateau Gwendo, so looked around for an easy recipe.
I know that gelatin is pretty gross, but I was not up for the failure potential by substituting agar-agar, so: la-la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you-marshmallows-are-yummy-silky-little-pillows-speak-not-of-hooves-and-connective-tissues!!!

I found a recipe which is at least eighty years old (maybe 100!), thanks to Sugarplum and Cindy from Rosehaven Cottage, with the most simple ingredient list - most importantly, no corn syrup, which I was trying to avoid. This recipe doesn't even call for egg whites, so the result really is this magical result of kitchen alchemy.

And thank you, Cindy's Great Great Aunt Esther!


I wouldn't even try this without a stand mixer, as it really does need to whip for 15-2o minutes, and this would burn out many hand mixers! You will also need a candy thermometer, easily purchased in most grocery stores!
Have everything ready before you start making these - you want your pan prepared with the wax paper all ready for you.

Butter, for greasing wax paper, and powdered sugar, for coating
2 envelopes (or Tbsp) gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup boiling water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (approx a 3-4 inch section) (this was my own addition)

Butter a piece of wax paper that will fit your pan (the recipe called for an 8x8 inch pan, but I used my 7x11 pyrex- you could even use an 11x13, with the result of thinner marshallows). Fit the wax paper as well as you can into the bottom and sides of pan, dust bottom and sides with powdered sugar, and set aside.

In the bowl for the stand mixer, combine 1/2 cup cold water with the gelatin, whisk together and set over a pan of hot water while you boil the sugar.

Combine sugar, boiling water and salt in a heavy medium sized saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk constantly while it is on medium heat, bring to a boil, and then stop whisking. Put the whisk down and do not touch it again.

Let the sugar boil and boil. Watch your candy thermometer rise to 236 degrees - this should take 15-20 minutes - and then remove from heat.

Pour the sugar syrup slowly over the gelatin,

and with the whisk attachment, add the vanilla and vanilla bean seeds, and mix on medium for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and thick, and the mixing bowl is cool to touch.

Pour Plop the mixture into your prepared pan,

using a well-buttered spatula to scoop it out (hint: butter the stem as well!) and with a buttered metal frosting spatula or butterknife, push it into the corners and smooth the top until it is evenly spread. Really work it in there, or you will have giant air bubbles in the corners.

Dust the top with more powdered sugar and press another piece of wax paper on top.

Place in freezer overnight to set.

With a very lightly buttered, sharp knife, cut into strips and then squares.

Roll in powdered sugar to keep from sticking together, and store in an airtight container.

See? Rockstar marshmallows!


Rosehaven Cottage said...

Oh WOW! This is SO cool!!!!!! You've one-upped Em at Sugar Plum by including photos of the process! Okay, now I REALLY have to make them and do my great-great Aunt Esther proud. I love your idea for the gift sets. I think I may do a variation of that. Hubby is taking all next week off work so we can bake in the kitchen. This will be on the list.


P.S. I think we have the SAME stove! That makes me even less scared. ;)

jennyalice said...

I am so making these... my children love love LOVE marshmallows. Thank you for going first.

DadaMama said...

I am going to do it. I just need a candy thermometer.

mamadaisy said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...

Woman, you are HARD CORE.

The Governor said...

These are fabulous. I need some homemade gifts for my sisters in law, and these with some homemade cocoa are totally going to be it. I know what I'm doing this weekend. Thanks!

furiousBall said...

you put the shallow in marshmallow... wait... that's not even in there.

my joke sucked. but those marshmallows look jizzerific

nakedjen said...

i am really liking this idea. and since YOU are in SC and i am in SLC, well, i think i might be safe in stealing it to give to the folks on my holiday list.

marshmallows, hot cocoa, and my botchedbrownies (which are supposed to be toffee, but i always screw it up and end up with these incredible brownies instead).

thank you, oh baking gwendo queen.

my friends here are going to LOVE you for this.

DadaMama said...

Oh hai! I just about set my kitchen on fire with this recipe. Mostly due to my own asshattery. Anyway, do you know how to get rock-hard burnt sugar out of a pot? Because ... I'm not having any luck. Boy, it's smoky in here!

gwendomama said...

OHMYGOD NO! You are NOT supposed to set your kitchen on fire.
It is not a flaming marshmallow recipe.

And yes, I do know how.
You boil the pan with water again. I promise it will work.


DadaMama said...

Oh. NOT marshmallow flambe.

I did get the sugar out of the bottom of the pot. And then failed to make marshmallows a second time, albeit without the fire.

I am convinced that the key to my success is the candy thermometer. I need a new one. The second batch was more like caramel and glued the spatula and the whisk to the counter.

I will conquer the marshmallows. I'd hate to lose all my street cred over this.

Anonymous said...

YOU kick ass. Repeatedly. I'd have to use the agar agar though, but I MAYYYYY be tryin' these.

It's freaking impossible to find veg marshmallows here in podunk, NY

Anonymous said...

From: "I am broken." and "Is my husband's passive-agressive negligence literally trying to kill me"

To: "Yipee...I'm making my own Marshmallows!"

????? Too manic for me. Or maybe I just can't relate to your cooking-coping skills. I thought you were going to take some action about your obviously sad and damaged marital situation, after sharing such depths of your desperate drama in your posts.

I realize life is ultimately more complicated than I could possible know, but I can't read about such drama and then have it just morph into... marshmallows. Hard to take you seriously. But whatever gets you through the day at a time....I wish you luck.

Cassie J

gwendomama said...

Sorry if I have not fulfilled my unspoken obligation to entertain you with sensationalism or more details of my private life.

"I realize life is ultimately more complicated than I could possible know, but I can't read about such drama and then have it just morph into... marshmallows."

Yes, life is more complicated than you could begin to try to understand. It didn't 'morph' into anything, it just became more private.

Since you obviously NEED more drama than marshmallows, I can tell you that we are not living in the same house.

Cindy said...

Cassie, sometimes people just need an outlet for what makes them feel better. When I'm really stressed out, I blog about soup. It doesn't mean I'm not stressed out, just that I need a break in focus for a bit.

Homemade marshmallows are the best--the way they melt into hot chocolate is divine.

G: You coming up Sat. night? Yankee swap is ON, and I have an battery-operated plastic martini mixer that I know you want. xxo

Anonymous said...

I made that this fall!!! Only I used the nasty corn syrup. Yuck. I wish I knew about the alternative.

Just for laughs...your pic looks a little like little pieces of tofu! :)

The Governor said...

So my 3 year old and I made these during today's snowday. They're in the freezer now, but our "test" scoops (read: repeated spoonfuls eaten by my son) were huge hits. Thanks again for the step-by-step!

Jenny said...

Oh shit. Now I need to make marshmellows.

Katherine said...

I wish my husband liked vanilla beans. These sounds fantastic.

Also, ask me about the time I was two months pregnant and CRAVING SAMOA COOOOOOKIES OM NOM NOM, so... I... decided to try and make some and... yeah. It was bad.

Do you have any idea how BAD burnt coconut smells? It's worse than burnt hair.

Katherine said...

Oh, uh, duh, this is RoseRedHoofbeats, btw. Just under my gmail name instead.

Redneck Mommy said...

I have ALWAYS wanted to to make homemade marshmallows but I had no idea how.

I'm TOTALLY trying this Gwen! I feel like you just gave me the BEST Christmas gift.


Merry Christmas my friend. I hope you are well.

gwendomama said...

HA! I just read this comments section. I sure hope Cassie J came back for the drama she was seeking.