I should maybe feel delighted that at my advanced age, I’m still discovering things about myself.
But, because this realization was pretty much a gimme, I instead feel resigned and annoyed. The sound “duh” comes painfully to mind.
What, Gentle Reader is this thunderbolt of personal awakening?It concerns marshmallows.
I’ve always disliked the fluffy cylindrical confections. I’m not a fan of s’mores. I’ve always steered clear of those seasonal chocolate covered candies. And when toasting them over a campfire, I’d toast, eat the crispy caramelized shell only, and repeat.
But.But, I’m a fiend for rice crispy treats. Those Lucky Charms marshmallows make my heart skip a beat. I even enjoy toasted marshmallow Jelly Bellies.
It took more than half a century, but I finally figured out my beef with those pillow-y confections.
I’d begun making marshmallows. I packaged them in Christmas bags to go with homemade hot cocoa. They’re kind of impressive, but once you get a reliable recipe (Alton Brown’s; natch), they’re easy to make.
Alton’s Homemade Marshmallows
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped, reserving pod
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
Place gelatin into bowl of stand mixer with ½ cup water.
In small saucepan combine remaining water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and empty vanilla pod. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto side of pan and cook until mixture reaches 240 degrees, approximately 7 minutes. Once mixture reaches temp, immediately remove from heat and remove vanilla pod.Turn on mixer. Using whisk attachment, turn on low speed and, while running, slowly pour sugar syrup down side of the bowl into gelatin mixture. Once you’ve added all the syrup, increase speed to high. Continue to whip until mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 10 to 13 minutes. Add the vanilla bean caviar during last minute of whipping. While mixture’s whipping prepare pan:Put confectioners’ sugar into small bowl. Lightly spray 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray. Cover with a piece of oiled foil. Add sugar and swirl to coat bottom and sides. Save remaining sugar for later.
When ready, pour mixture into prepared pan, using oiled spatula for even spreading. Dust top with enough remaining sugar to lightly cover. Reserve the rest again. Allow marshmallows to sit uncovered for a few hours before cutting.Once candy’s set, place a piece of parchment onto large cutting board. Turn marshmallows out and peel off foil. Dust bottom and sides with more powdered sugar. Using powdered sugar dusted pizza cutter, cut 8 pieces wide and 4 long. As you cut, place into zip-top bag with powdered sugar in it. Gently shake to coat. Place onto parchment to fully set.
*For fancy flavored candies, switch out vanilla for other flavors, such as peppermint, almond or orange. You can also put spices into the confectioners’ sugar, like cinnamon, Chinese five-spice, or cayenne. Or use cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar.What I discovered about marshmallows is I love the flavor. It’s the texture that weirds me out. That spongy, bounce-back, “it’s alive and will devour you” feeling—I can’t even. I do not like food that feels like it’s fighting back.
And I’ve discovered and begun making two scrumptious items that have all the marshmallow taste and none of that marshmallow-y “sentient and plotting against me” consistency.
Next week I’ll talk about them and share the recipes.Thanks for your time.