Marshmallows–and by extension, candy-making–are a great metaphor for life. You want a sweet treat, so you decide to whip up a batch of something, following the recipe to a T, and you get a sticky, gooey mess. Instead of giving up, though, you beat your problem into submission, smooth it all out, and with a little patience, you have something absolutely wonderful. It’s worth the long, strange trip after all.
For this month’s First on the First, Kate at Food Babbles and I decided it was time to open up our monthly challenges to everyone and invite you all to join us. We have a small group to ring in the new year with us, but we’re hoping more of you will decide to take part. It’s fun cooking together, even if we’re cities, counties, states, and even worlds apart! Next month, we’ll be making macarons. If you’re interested, drop us a line and we’ll clue you in on how to be a part of the party!
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch Process)
- ¾ cup malt powder (plain malt flavor Ovaltine)
- ⅔ cup boiling water
- 4 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin (a whole box)
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- ½ cup water
- 1¼ cup brown rice syrup
- 1½ cup granulated sugar (I used vegan sugar this time; the irony is not lost on me)
- pinch fine sea salt
- powdered sugar
- unsweetened cocoa
- Take a roughly 7"x11" brownie pan and grease it. Sprinkle some powdered sugar in the pan and tilt it around to evenly coat with the sugar, tapping out the extra. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the chocolate slurry ingredients until no longer lumpy. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, place the bloom ingredients. Stir to evenly coat the gelatin, then leave it be.
- Put the Marshmallow Base ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring only until the sugar is dissolved.
- Once the mixture boils, put a lid on it and let it boil for 2 minutes; this will help wash the sides of any remaining sugar to prevent crystallization.
- Remove the lid and resist the urge: do not stir again!!!
- Attach your candy thermometer to the pan and watch carefully til the mixture reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit (soft ball stage). Remove from heat.
- Whisk in the chocolate slurry, being careful as it will bubble up.
- Attach the whisk attachment to your stand mixer and turn it on low.
- Making sure the splash guard is attached, slowly pour the hot sugar mess into the bowl, then gradually increase the speed to high.
- Beat and beat and beat. Seriously, this will take a while.
- Eventually, the mixture will lighten and get very fluffy, doubling in volume. Once the bowl has cooled to lukewarm, you can stop the mixer. This could take 20 minutes, so be patient.
- Using a silicone spatula, pour and scrape the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Whack it on the counter a few times to even it out and get some air bubbles out.
- Grease a piece of aluminum foil and secure it over the top of the pan to protect the marshmallows.
- Let them sit for several hours. It could take 4, it could take longer. Just make sure they're good and set before you try to cut them.
- The powdered sugar you sprinkled in the pan should make it easy to dump the mess right out onto your work surface (make sure you sprinkle that with powdered sugar, too). I forgot to sugar the pan and it was significantly more difficult to get them out.
- Grease a large knife or pizza wheel and cut away, coating each cube in powdered sugar (or a mixture of powdered sugar and cocoa).
- Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Sure, they take a little time. But once you’re chowing down on these fluffy little pillows of happiness, you won’t mind. So much better than store-bought!
Let’s see what the others made for their first experiences with marshmallows!
- Bourbon-Spiked Marshmallows from The Professional Palate
- Clementine Kissed Marshmallows from Teaspoon of Spice
- Lavender and Vanilla Marshmallows from Food Babbles
- Homemade Scotchmallows from What The Dog Ate
- Fluffy Classic Marshmallows from Hidden Ponies
Please note: In May 2014, we decided to discontinue First on the First. It was fun while we did it, though!