Wednesday, October 30, 2013

chocolate marshmallows

Marshmallows are surprisingly simple to make, as long as you have a stand- or hand-mixer and a candy thermometer. And the results are a definite crowd-pleaser. One batch makes up a ton, but at the rate they'll get eaten, you'll be glad you made so many in the first place.

The first time I made marshmallows, I tried this oreo version, but only ended up with enough space in the pan for two of the three layers. They were delicious, but there were a lot of dishes involved, so for the batch I made today, I decided to stick with only one flavor - chocolate.

I maybe spent a bit *too* long researching a recipe, but I wanted to make sure that my marshmallows were the fluffiest marshmallows ever, so any old recipe would not do. I started with Smitten Kitchen, who has not steered me wrong so far, and her springy, fluffy marshmallow recipe. But then came time to figure out when to add the cocoa powder without deflating the marshmallow fluff. I ended up finding a kindred spirit in Stephanie from The Culinary Life, and decided to tweak her recipe to my specifications.

And finally, just because it's Halloween, I drizzled the marshmallows with chocolate. Yum.

adapted from Smitten Kitchen and The Culinary Life

about 1 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 Tbsps + 2 1/2 tsps) unflavored gelatin (*I only had 3 envelopes and it turned out okay, but I wouldn't recommend it*)
1 cup cold water, divided
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 Tbps hot water (+ 1Tbsp if needed)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup (or brown rice syrup)
1/2 cup
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg whites
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
4-6 oz chocolate chips (optional)

equipment: stand- or hand-mixer, candy thermometer

Oil bottom and sides of a 9x13x2 baking pan, and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners' sugar. Set aside.
In the bottom of a stand mixer bowl (or else a large bowl), sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water, and let soften.
In another small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water, and mix. If the cocoa powder is clumping instead of mixing, add the additional Tbsp of hot water.

In a heavy-bottomed 3 quart saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup water, and stir with a wooden spoon over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the heat up to moderate, and let boil without stirring until the candy thermometer reaches 240F, about 10-12 minutes. (It's better to stay under than go over.) Remove pan from heat and pour over the gelatin mixture, stirring slowly to dissolve.

With stand- or hand-mixer, whisk on high until the sugar mixture turns white, thick, and triples in volume.

Dollop the cocoa mixture in spoonfuls around the top of the marshmallow fluff, and fold gently to combine, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom. If you're going for a chocolate swirl marshmallow, fold only 3-4 times, else fold a couple more times. There should still be a swirl at this point, which will get smoothed out in the next step.

In a separate medium bowl with clean beaters or a whisk, beat the egg whites just until they reach stiff peaks. Add the egg whites and the vanilla extract to marshmallow fluff, and mix on low just until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan, and smooth out the top with a greased spatula. Don't worry if there's still marshmallow left in the bowl; you'll only make a spiderweb of a mess trying to scrape it all out. Sift 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar (mixed with some cocoa powder, if desired) evenly over the top of the marshmallows, and let sit, uncovered, to firm up for three hours, or up to one day.

Run a thin knife around the edges of the marshmallow and tip the baking pan to pull the marshmallows out on to a cutting board. Cut the marshmallows into 1x1 cubes with a large knife (greased, if it starts to stick too much). Sift more confectioners' sugar (and cocoa powder, if desired) into the now-empty baking pan, and return the marshmallows to the baking pan, shaking to coat all sides.

optional chocolate drizzle: in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in 15-second bursts, stirring in between. Lay the marshmallows out on a piece of wax or parchment paper, and use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate on top. If you want to speed the drying process along, pop the marshmallows in the fridge to make the chocolate harden faster.

Marshmallows keep in an airtight container for a couple weeks. If it's hot in the house, keep them in the fridge to keep the chocolate from melting.

Makes about 96 1-inch marshmallows.

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