This month at Milk and Honey, I'm posting a series of basic recipes that I strongly feel everyone should have at their fingertips. We take so many things in our pantries for granted, but what would we do if there was a run on mayonnaise or on our favorite spice mixes? Go without? I certainly would not; after all, most of our favorite pantry items predate the industrial process by at least several hundred years, meaning that people used to make these things from scratch, without hesitation, as a way of life. Purchasing the pre-made stuff may be convenient, but that perceived gain in convenience is more than lost in flavor and quality. The sad part is that most of these beloved items are incredibly easy to make, but we are so far removed from the process that we assume that preparation must be either time consuming or difficult. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be surprised by how quickly most of your pantry favorites can be made and by how any from-scratch item trumps its store bought counterpart in the flavor department.
I can't think of a better way to start this series than marshmallows. As a teenager, I learned how long marshmallows have actually been around, and it blew my mind. The mallows to which I was accustomed were so obviously processed and chemically treated that I couldn't fathom what they should taste like in their original form. What kept me coming back for more? Pure ignorance. Now that I know better, I like to keep the ingredients for mallows on hand at all times. They make great gifts, and they take rice krispie treats, hot cocoa, and s'mores to a whole new level. This recipe is for basic marshmallows, but flavor additions are limitless. Try adding slices of fresh ginger to the pot while the syrup boils for ginger mallows, or add lavender and Lillet to the final stages of whipping for a classier, grown-up treat. If you like your mallows a bit softer, reduce the whipping time; for firmer mallows, increase it.
3 packets unflavored gelatin 1 cup ice cold water, divided 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1 cup light corn syrup 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 cup confectioners sugar 1/4 cup cornstarch Nonstick spray
1. Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
2. In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
3. Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
For regular marshmallows:
1. Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
2. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
3. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
For miniature marshmallows:
1. Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the confectioners' sugar mixture.
2. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch between each strip. Sprinkle the tops with enough of the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture to lightly cover. Let the strips set for 4 hours or up to overnight.
3. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces using a pizza wheel or scissors dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to a week.