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!
Marshmallows: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.
PourPlop 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!