Thursday, December 4, 2008

Homemade Marshmallows

Nowadays, nearly every culinary or family magazine will give you a recipe for homemade marshmallows, but back in 1970, when The Farm Journal's Homemade Candy came out, marshmallows in the U.S. came in a plastic bag at the grocers. They were meant to be put in fruit salad, or melted on top of sweet potatoes, or really really melted in with margarine to coat Rice Krispies for a Treat. I adore marshmallows (even the mass produced kind), and encourage you to give 'em a go in your own kitchen.
Homemade Marshmallows
Light, delicate and delicious

2 tblsp. unflavored gelatin
3/4 c. cold water
2 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 c. boiling water
1 tblsp. vanilla
Chopped nuts or toasted flaked coconut for coating

Soften gelatin in cold water 5 minutes; then dissolve by stirring over hot water.

Combine sugar, salt and boiling water in 2-qt. heavy saucepan; cook, stirring utnil sugar dissolves, to the soft crack stage (280°).

Pour into mixing bowl along with the gelatin mixture and beat at low speed for 3 minutes; continue beating at medium speed for 10 minutes or until mixture is fluffy and creamy. Add vanilla and pour into an 8" square pan dusted with confectioners sugar.

Cool 1/2 hour or until set, then cut in 36 squares with knife moistened in water. Roll in nuts or coconut. Place in airtight container and put in refrigerator, freezer or other cold place until ready to use. Makes about 1 pound.

Note: Tint the gelatin mixture while heating -- pale green, pink, or yellow -- if you wish. Roll green candy in chopped nuts, pink in flaked coconut, yellow in toasted coconut and white in nuts or coconut. You can vary the flavorings if you wish. Instead of vanilla use almound, peppermint, orange or lemon extract.
In case it's not 100% clear, do NOT use these magnificent beasties for your Rice Krispie Treat needs. These are to be savored on their own.

I'm generally pro-nut, but don't think that nuts really pair well with an otherwise unadorned marshmallow. If you're going to enrobe the nut-crusted 'mallow with chocolate, well, ... maybe. But otherwise, please keep them plain, or dusted in confectioner's sugar, or, yes, use that coconut. Personally, I'd tint the coconut and leave the marshmallows white.

Instead of using a knife to cut the marshmallow into pieces, try using kitchen shears. You'll manage the task much more quickly, and with greater precision.

What are your favorite uses for marshmallows?

Right about now, I can see plopping a big marshmallow into a cup of hot cocoa, watching it swell, and then nibbling my way to the beverage. Mmmm...marshmallows remind me of childhood.

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