Believe it or not homemade marshmallows

Really the joy of reading recipes is that making the item need not be the endgame, just knowing the ingredients in a well-loved food can be an end in itself.  So, with that in mind, read on about the “nature” of the marshmallow.  If you feel  inspired to try making some, well that’s fine too. (The following is excerpted from marshmallow information appearing in our local Hartford paper’s food section.)

 "A homemade marshmallow is really a revelation," says Peter Brett, pastry chef of the Melrose restaurant in the Park Hyatt Hotel in Washington. Not only does it remind people of their childhood, he says, "It's like magic, simple syrup turning into marshmallow."

A few tips from the pros for anyone interested in whipping up a bit of nostalgia
--Try using fresh vanilla beans to flavor your marshmallows.
--Kitchen shears, treated with non stick spray, help cut through the finished product.
--Omit the gelatin from a marshmallow recipe, offers chef Nancy Silverton of Campanile restaurant in Los Angeles - where the stuff is cut into rounds that fit snugly atop piping hot mugs of hot chocolate - and what you get is "an amazing sauce for hot fudge sundaes."

It takes only about 20 minutes to whip up your own batch of marshmallows, a relatively simple process that is greatly aided by the use of a candy thermometer.   (Now, if you are seriously thinking of making homemade marshmallows, at this point you must be asking yourself, do I have one of those? If you did not ask yourself that, you surely are just enjoying recipe reading.)

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS MARSHMALLOWS

Vegetable shortening for the pan
Confectioners' sugar for dusting, plus additional for the pan
2-1/2 packages (2 tablespoons  plus 1-1/2 teaspoons*) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 egg whites (a)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lightly grease a 13- by 9- by 2-inch metal pan, and sprinkle with the confectioners' sugar; tap out any excess sugar.
Place the gelatin in a large bowl and add the cold water. Let the gelatin sit for about 5 minutes in a saucepan over low heat, stir together the hot water, sugar and com syrup and cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and threads; it should register 240F. on a candy thermometer (the soft-ball stage).
Stir the gelatin mixture into the sugar mixture. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the mixture until it triples in volume, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites and vanilla into the gelatin mixture just until incorporated.
Transfer the marshmallow mixture to the prepared pan, dust the surface with confectioners' sugar until it is lightly coated and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 3 hours or overnight.
To serve, use a sharp knife to cut around the edges of the pan. The bottom of the confection will be sticky. Cut the marshmallow slab  into 1-or 1 1/2-inch squares (or whatever shape you prefer), then gently ease the pieces from the pan and toss them in a bowl of confectioner's sugar. This may be done in several batches. Transfer to a colander and toss again, to remove excess sugar. (Makes 45 to 50 marshmallows). To store: Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Note: Uncooked eggs may be contaminated with salmonella and should be avoided by young children, the elderly and anyone with immune-system deficiencies.

Of course, the fun part of making your own could be making your own shapes.  But also, be prepared for friends’ telling you “these are almost as good as store bought.” 

Homemade Marshmallows (to put atop Parisian Hot Chocolate with Cocoa)

Vegetable shortening
Confectioner's sugar
2 1/2 packages (2 T. plus 1 1/2 t.)
  unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or substitute lemon, almond, rum or peppermint or others)

  Lightly grease a 13x9x2 inch metal pan with shortening and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Tap out excess sugar.

  Place the gelatin in a large bowl and add the cold water. let the gelatin sit for about 5 minutes.

  In a saucepan over low heat, stir together the hot water, sugar and corn syrup and cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat to medium and cook without stirring until the mixture comes to a boil and threads; it should register 240 degrees on a candy thermometer (the soft-ball stage.)

  Stir the gelatin mixture into the sugar mixture. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the mixture until it triples in volume, about eight minutes. Set aside.

  In a medium bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites and vanilla (or other flavoring) into the gelatin mixture until just incorporated. If you wish, you may also add food coloring.

  Transfer the marshmallow mixture to the prepared pan, dust the surface with confectioner's sugar until it is lightly coated and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 3 hours.

  To serve, use a sharp knife to cut around the edges of the pan. The bottom of the confection will be sticky. Cut the marshmallow slab into 1" squares -- or other shapes as desired, then gently ease the pieces from the pan and toss into a bowl of confectioner's sugar. This may be done in several batches. Transfer to a colander and toss again to remove excess sugar.

  To store, cover tightly and refrigerate for up to one week.

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