Friday, 1 April 2011
The lightest, fluffiest and easiest marshmallows...
The day I first made marshmallows, I thought I was going to explode with excitement...
Who ever thought that a mere mortal could (and successfully!) create such a delicious and exotic sweet! They were the kind of things that growing up I'd imagine came from massive window-less factory-type buildings containing machines and ingredients that no-one had ever or would ever hear of...run by very secretive sugar-dusted individuals. And maybe looked like oopma-loompas...Am I taking this too far? Maybe. Anyway.
So you can see what a revelation it was when I finally did, and not just that, but I made them easily! And quickly!
And the best thing is that you can make them any flavour you like, these days you can buy just about every flavour imaginable on the internet, colour them, shape them, be as creative as you like.
So we have a basic recipe:
22.5g leaf gelatine (I hate it when recipes say 1 or 2 leaves, as they come in different sizes these days, and how are you to know which size to use??)
The next things you need are:
e.g. freeze-dried fruit, dessicated coconut, crushed nuts, spices, cocoa, edible glitter (awesome) flavour drops (which you can buy from places like www.msk-ingredients.com and www.infusions4chefs.co.uk)
Powdered colourings or pastes work best as then you're not messing around with the liquid content of the marshmallows, which keeps everything much simpler! Natural colourings are of course the best, and if you get some good quality freeze-dried fruit such as raspberry or strawberry then this will colour your marshmallows beautifully without adding artifical colourings (like the pink raspberry marshmallows here:)
Something to coat them in:
Marshmallows are, by nature, quite sticky, so you do need some dry powder to roll them into keep them finger-friendly.
I suggest a mixture of cornflour, roughly 1 tsp cornflour to 2 tsp icing sugar, combined with a good 2-3tsp of crushed freeze-dried fruit, nuts or dessicated coconut etc as this will add more flavour and colour.
Word of advice: this method is possible using just an electric hand mixer, however made immeasurably easier with a kitchen stand mixture...I have done it both ways. All I will say about the hand mixer option is that a tea towel comes in handy to place over your hand and the bowl to stop any mixture flying out...
Soak your gelatine in cold water (an additional amount to the water stated in the recipe).
Place the sugar and the measured water in a small saucepan, and place over a medium heat and allow the sugar to dissolve. As is often advisable both with sugar syrups and in friendship circles, resist the urge to stir. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Allow the syrup to reach 108*C
While the syrup is boiling away, place the glucose syrup in the bowl of the kitchen stand mixer.
Once the gelatine has softened to a very squidgy and soft texture (you shouldn't be able to feel any firm area at all, think over-cooked pasta, not 'al dente') take it out of the water and squeeze it to remove any excess water.
Place the gelatine in with the glucose, and start the mixer mixing on a low speed. If you're using flavour drops or food colourings, add them now.
When the sugar syrup reaches 108*C, turn the speed up slightly to about half-speed. Stand by!
Cook the syrup to PRECISELY 110*C, then remove from the heat, and pour the sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream into the glucose/gelatine mixture. It should take roughly 30 seconds to pour the syrup in completely, so take your time!
Once all the syrup has been poured in, the mixture should resemble slightly watery, frothy glucose, still fairly transparent. Now turn the speed up to full, and place a tea towel over the mixer to retain some heat in the mix.
Now walk away and leave it for 5-10, possibly even 15 minutes. During this time, the mixture will cool, and simultaneously whisk up the gelatine, sugar and glucose to look a bit like a meringue mixture. Once a stiff peak meringue-texture has been achieved, you need to keep the mixer going until the mixture cools enough to be firm enough to hold the peaks.
If it is still quite hot when you stop whisking, the mixture won't be stiff enough to hold any kind of shape you want it to take.
Think stiff-peak meringue, or piping consistency.
Now you can fold in the freeze-dried fruit, nuts or coconut.
Note: If you're in a warm kitchen, it is possible that after 15 minutes of continuous whisking your mixer won't actually be able to cool the mixture to below 25*C or so as its engine will get hot, but don't worry. You're looking for just about room temperature for the mixture.
Now comes the fun part!
Shaping the marshmallows:
Whatever you put the mixture into, it needs to be lined with non-stick or waxed baking parchment.
Option1 : scrape the mixture into a baking paper lined roasting tin to set, about 2.5cm deep (i like quite chunky marshmallows, and then place a second layer of baking parchment on top to seal the mixture
Option 2: put the marshmallow mix into a piping bag and pipe lines onto baking paper to make long marshmallows. Sprinkle the piped lines with your dried 'dusting powder' while still wet so that they stick properly.
Option 3: my personal favourite, pipe the mixture on top of cakes or cupcakes for a delicious marshmallow topping...(sprinkle as for the piped lines while still 'wet')
Leave the marshmallow to set for around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Once it has set, you can cut the marshmallows into cubes or smaller pieces.
To remove the marshmallow from the baking paper you will need a heat gun or hairdryer.
Wave the heat source gently over the baking paper (this will effectively melt the marshmallow just at the surface just enough to release the paper) and peel the paper back gently. Dust the exposed marshmallow with the 'dusting powder'.
Turn the sheet of marshmallow over and repeat for the underside, dusting all the exposed surface where you have cut the marshmallow.
And now, as if you haven't already...its time to try!
The ones I made are passionfruit and coconut, and the pink ones are raspberry. Try adding a tiny touch of citric acid to your dusting powder for 'sherbet' marshmallows...or how about cinnamon and cocoa powder with a hint of red chilli powder for the ultimate mexican spiced hot chocolate marshmallows...
If you want to make the simplest forms and just cut them into 2.5cm cubes, this quantity makes a rectangle roughly 2.5cm x 21cm x 48cm.