søndag 1. desember 2013

Marshmallows! In English!

Okay, so I make stuff every now and then. Yesterday, I made marshmallows.

Yes. I made marshmallows. That is actually possible. It's a thing you can do.

Well, if you have a proper kitchen machine with a metal whisk attachment. I learned that yesterday.
I don't have a proper kitchen machine with a metal whisk attachment. I do have regular hand-held mixers.
That doesn't work very well. My advice from me to you; if you're gonna make marshmallows, make sure you have the right equipment. A hand-held mixer will become very, very sad if you use it for this recipe.

This post won't be very image heavy (I have exactly two pictures), because.. well, you try taking pictures when your hands are full of sticky mess and your kitchen is full of sticky mess and you feel like you're in a slapstick movie where everything you touch sticks to you. I'll never laugh at one of those scenes ever again, because I know how it is now. It sucks.

So, now that you're all warned, let's get started!

Om-nom Vanilla Marshmallows
Slightly adapted recipe from Shauna Sever, she adapted it from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.

First of all, this recipe is for a 20x20 cm pan (8x8" for you silly people using the Imperial units). If you want MOAR, you can double it and use a 23x33 cm (or whatever you have that's close enough / 9x13") pan instead. You'll have a lot of marshmallows. You won't be able to fill up a bathtub, but you'll fill up at least five friends, depending on how much they like marshmallows. Don't eat them all yourself. Christmas is right around the corner, share with friends and family!

You'll need:
6 sheets gelatin
200 g sugar (1 cup)
125 ml light corn syrup*, divided (1/2 cup)
60 ml water (1/4 cup)
1 vanilla bean
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Food coloring, if you want
Powdered sugar

Candy thermometer (I know Panduro has them)

*Light corn syrup isn't really a cupboard staple in Norway, but you can get it in select stores. Go to your nearest Meny/Centra/Ultra (or any other chain that has Oluf Lorentzen as an engros partner) and ask them to order in some Karo Light Corn Syrup, the EPD number is 1343201 (makes it easier for them). It's about 80 NOK for a bottle of 470 ml. Expensive, I know, but so worth it!

Grease the pan with butter, margarine or shortening (the recipe says shortening, but I used regular butter, and that worked fine), and make sure you cover the edges and corners as well. Then drop in a little powdered sugar and shake it around until it covers every greased surface. Set the pan aside for later.

Put the gelatin sheets in a medium bowl, and fill it up with a lot of ice cold water. If you want to, you can put ice cubes in there - I didn't, because then I would've had to go downstairs to get them, and I was much too worked up about making marshmallows. Let the gelatin soak for about 10 minutes while you do other stuff.

Get a medium saucepan and throw in the sugar, water and 60 ml (or 62,5 ml, to be exact - 1/4 cup) of corn syrup. Stir it gently so the sugar gets wet, and then put the saucepan over medium-high heat. Put your candy thermometer in (mine doesn't clip into the saucepan, so I just have to awkwardly hold it there) and keep an eye on it. You want the sugary goodness to reach a temperature of 112-115°C (235-240°F), but you'll have just enough time to do the following step before it does.

Your kitchen machine should already be out, if not you've failed as a baker and have to do penalty laps.
No, I'm just kidding. But you'll have no time for anything, so make sure you always have your equipment ready to go!
Now, in between all these small steps, always keep an eye on the candy thermometer. You don't want the sugar to burn, you'll have to start that step all over again, and you'll have wasted precious corn syrup. If you see that the sugar is getting there while you're still busy doing other stuff, turn the heat down a notch and hope for the best.
Put the remaining 60 ml (or 62,5 ml, or 1/4 cup) of corn syrup in the bowl. Approximately 10 minutes should've gone by now, so drain the water off the gelatin sheets (which should now be soft). Wring a bit more water out of the sheets like they're a wash cloth, but gently. You're a gentle giant. Caress the water out of them. Then put them in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke them on high for about 30 seconds, until the gelatin has melted completely.
Turn on the kitchen machine on low, and pour in the gelatin (in my case, it was half pouring, half scraping). Let the mixer keep running while you check on the sugary goodness in your saucepan.

As soon as it reaches the desired temperature, pull the saucepan from the heat. Turn the mixer up to medium speed. Now, in Shauna's recipe she wants you to carefully transfer the sugary goodness to a heatproof measuring cup or something similar which is easy to pour from. I want you to drop that step. Be a rebel, fudge the system!
The main reason I want you to be a rebel today is because I did as Shauna said, and my sugary goodness started thickening and solidifying almost before I could get it over into the bowl. I had to try and scrape it out with a spatula, and it didn't really work all that well. The second reason is that sugary goodness is scaldingly hot. If you get it on your skin, it transforms into sugary awfulness and your skin gets really, really sad, and you won't have any marshmallows because you'll be in an emergency room all night.
Be a rebel, and pour that syrup straight from the saucepan into the bowl slowly and carefully. It may thicken up on you anyway; if so, use a spatula (just make sure it's heatproof).
Also, if you think doing it this way may be hard due to the design of your mixer, then don't be a rebel. We don't want to waste any corn syrup, remember?

Anyway, let's continue! You pour in the sugary goodness any way you like while the mixer is on medium speed. When your saucepan (or other vessel, if you're not a rebel today) is empty, turn the mixer up to medium-high and let it whip some shape into all that sugar for about 6-7 minutes. Meanwhile, get your vanilla bean. You want to add those delicious seeds into your mix, but first you'll have to get them out of that bean. I usually cut off the ends, then slice it down the middle so I end up with two halves. Use a small knife to scrape out the seeds - and don't throw away the bean! Put it in a jar with sugar, and you'll have real vanilla sugar. Or, if you're like me and make your own vanilla extract, put the bean into your jar of vanilla extract.

Now, when you're ready and 6-7 minutes have gone by, the marshmallow batter (I like that word, so I'm sticking with it, no pun intended) should be white and fluffy (and not climbing up your whisk, like it does if you use a hand-held mixer with two whisks, just sayin').
Add the vanilla seeds, the vanilla extract, the salt and food coloring, if you want a crazy color (or a not so crazy color), crank the mixer up to high and let it go for 1 minute.

Now, be quick. Please, be quick here. Pour the marshmallow batter into that prepared pan ASAP. If not, you'll end up with this:

Sure, it looks nice, but consider the fact that it's got the sticky factor of melted mozzarella cheese and super glue combined, that it's tough like Spiderman's web and that it crept up those whisks and into my mixer, and you'll understand my frustration yesterday.

So, yes. Pour that batter into that pan and hope that the marshmallows gods are pleased. Grease a spatula with some butter/margarine/shortening, and use it to politely nudge that batter into the corners of the pan and to smoothen out the top. Get a small sift and put in some of your powdered sugar, then sprinkle it generously over the giant marshmallow you now have sitting in a pan. Think about that. It's a giant marshmallow.

Unfortunately, you'll have to be patient today, because that giant marshmallow has to mellow out for 6 hours before you can feel free to eat it. Let it sit in a dry place, preferably not above regular room temperature (I covered my pan with a kitchen towel to be sure nothing landed on it, like cat hairs or my face).
Then use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the pan (or a good ol' Norwegian cheese slicer works fine, too) along the edges. Flip the pan onto a piece of baking paper (or any other surface you feel is good enough for your precious marshmallow) and watch as you lift away the pan. It's beautiful.

Now, you can indulge your fantasies and just eat that giant marshmallow like it is, or you can get a pizza cutter (yes, a pizza cutter, the wheel-like thing you use to cut your pizza) and go to town on that slab of sugar. Cut it into pieces, you decide how big, and if you want you can get out more powdered sugar and dip the sticky edges in it. Pat off the excess sugar, because let's be honest: You don't need more sugar. It's enough sugary goodness in this already. Did you hear me? Put away the powdered sugar. Thank you. You know it's for the best.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week (in other words, if you want to make these for Christmas, you'll have to cut it close - I know I'll probably be making these two days prior). I doubt there will be anything left after a whole week has gone by, though. I made mine yesterday, and they're almost gone already, because they're that good.

Yes, I made mine pink. Deal with it.

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