January 1, 2009

So with all this hearty food blogged, I thought it was time to lighten it up. Plus, I might adorn this wedding cake I am making with these lovely pillows. With something that is simple, easy, requires very few ingredients. The only thing you NEED is a Kitchenaid. There is some serious whipping required, and if you were to do it by hand, you would indeed develop some carpal tunnel.

What we need to know here is that Marshallows used to be medicinal. Herbaceous and therapeutic for the sore throat. And they were at some point, vegan in nature. Their sticky gluiness was attained through the marshmallow plant root, mucilage (any relation to mucus?). Mucilage naturally occurs in aloe vera, and Venus fly try traps. It is a polysacharride + glycoprotein --- a long chain of glucose molecules attached to a protein. This gives it the sticky gluey texture of protein - gelatinous. So now commercial marshmallows are produced with gelatin, animal rather than mineral or vegetable. So I follow suit in this recipe, going for the good old gelatin.

This recipe does not require many ingredients, but it does require "knowing" your ingredients... in the biblical sense -- errr. Well, at least knowing how to manipulate the ingredients.
1. Heating the sugar to 240F through the diagnostic cold water test.
2. Using excessive powders to control the stickiness of the mallow.
ALMOND MALLOWS (4 dozen candies) adapted from Gourmet's Recipe

SUMMARY: This will be more simple than you expect, but timing is key. Toasting coconut and catching the sugar at 240F will be your greatest challenge. If you have a thermometer this will be easy. If not, we have to be intuitive and catch the sugar syrup at the soft ball stage.

WARE: Kitchenaid is ESSENTIAL, parchment paper, candy thermometer is optional

TOTAL TIME: 3 1/4 hours, 1 1/4 active time

- 2 cups unsweetened dried coconut
- 3 (1/4-ounces) envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup water, divided
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 c powdered sugar
- 1/2 c cornstarch
1. Toast the coconut at 350 for 7-10 minutes. This will coat the sides of the of the marshmallow and are essential in non-sticking. Don't forget about the coconut like I did! It was a bloody burned mess!

2. Line a 9x9 glass pan with parchment paper. Toss the with the cornstarch and powdered sugar and spread half the mixture out on the pan. This is where you will place the marshmallow when it is done. If you do not do this, it will stick!

To make the marshmallow:

3. Dissolve the gelatin and 1/2 c water in the kitchenaid bowl and let soak while you make the sugar.

4. Heat the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and leftover 1/2 c water to a boil and boil for about 7-10 minutes. We are looking to get to 240F. If you have a thermometer use it. If you are not check out this tutorial:
The cold water method dates back and back. Julia Childs did a whole thing on it back when she was hosting shows, so it is a very tried and true method. Basically, you dip a spoon into the boiling syrup, pick up a bit of syrup and drop it into a glass of ice water.

At first, when the sugar is under 240F, you will see the syrup dissolve into the ice water. As the sugar heats, the water will evaporate and the sugar will become fore dense. As the temperature rises, the syrup will form solids when dropped into the ice water.

The thread stage is first at about 230-235F and the sugar will form a thread when drizzled in the ice water. 80% sugar concentration

The Soft ball stage, which is the second stage on the candy heating scale at 235-240F. This will for a ball in the ice water, which you can play with like play dough. 85% sugar concentration.

Other stages are: firm ball, hard ball, soft crack, hard crack all increasingly high in sugar concentration.


5. Start you mixer with the gelatin and stream your hot syrup directly into the mixer. Mix on high for 15 minutes.

6. After 15 minutes, add in the vanilla and almond extract.

7. Pour it out onto the glass pan. Make sure there is an excessive amount of powdered sugar and coconut there so things won't stick. Wet your hands and pat the marshmallow down flat. Cover with the other half of the coconut mixture. Cover plan with plastic wrap and cool for 2 hours.

8. Slice up with a wet knife. Store in a tight container for up to a month.


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