Wednesday, April 11, 2012

{Cook the Book}: Marshmallow Madness

{I'm so excited to finally be sharing a regular feature I've been wanting to create for months - welcome to 'Cook the Book'! Each month I'll be feature a favorite new (or classic) cookbook and giving a copy away! I've created a pinterest board of my favorites - feel free to follow along.}

Shauna Sever was quite right to open her new book Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes with an antidote about folk's disbelief that a marshmallow is something anyone can make. The day her book arrived my brother actually declared: "You can't make marshmallows!", this led to a deep discuss about how really, you can make or grow all edibles, if your just willing to try.

The marshmallow is, of course, a plant. The confection we know it today began as a mixture of the plant's root extract, egg whites and sugar some time in 19th century France. It was sold as a remedy for sore throats. Later the marshmallow root and egg were replaced with gelatin, making the candy easier to produce in mass quantities.

I love marshmallows, because I love s'mores, Peeps, and the game "chubby bunny". I love marshmallows for being puffy, soft, and sweet. I once believed that Jet-Puffs were the pinnacle of marshmallow happiness. It wasn't until we began testing recipes for a marshmallow episode of Good Eats that I had my first handmade marshmallow. My life was changed. No really - I could no longer enjoy a mega-mart mallow straight- up*. A homemade marshmallow is like eating a piece of a heavenly cloud - so much softer and puffier than a mass produced one, with a delicate sweetness and nuanced flavor. A Jet-Puff seems like chewing a golf ball in comparison.

Clearly, Shauna is as enamored with the confection as I am. She spent 96 pages, sharing dozens of recipes for making, baking, and sharing handmade marshmallows. The book itself is playfully puffy and full of sweet pastel portraits. Along with the classic vanilla, there are recipes for flavors like Key Lime Pie, Maple Bacon, and Chai Tea mallows. But after spending several weeks last spring trying to set a marshmallow free of animal products without any success, the recipes that make this a book worth owning {to me} are the Vegan Marshmallow and the Raw Marshmallow. Not that you need to buy one - I'm giving away a copy at the end of this post!


I used a 13x9 pan for a flatter mallow (better for s'mores stacking) and added a vanilla bean in place of the extract. These mallows are divine, melting even better and being gooey-er than my former favorite recipe. 

Classic Vanilla Marshmallows
Yield: About 2 dozen 1-inch mallowsadapted {slightly} from  Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes
the bloom:
4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
the syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
the "mallowing":
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean split and scraped
1/2 cup Classic Coating (below), plus more for dusting

- Lightly coat an 8x8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and let soften for 5 minutes.
- Stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, pour remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 
- Microwave gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour into the mixer bowl. Set the mixer speed to low and keep it running.
- When the syrup reaches 240°F, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the vanilla; finished marshmallow will be opaque white, fluffy, and tripled in volume. Pour it into the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to smooth it into the corners. Sift coating evenly and generously over top. 

- Let set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.

- Use knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut into whatever size pieces you wish (a pizza cutter works well for squares). Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more coating, patting off the excess.

Classic Coating: 
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar 
1 cup cornstarch or potato starch

Sift the ingredients together in a large bowl or combine them in a food processor. I tend to make several cups’ worth at a time and store it in an airtight container; it keeps forever.

With that ladies and gents, I have one lovely copy of Marshmallow Madness to give to one lucky reader. Just comment below with the number of mallows your mouth can hold in a game of chubby bunny and I'll randomly select one winner on Wednesday April 18th.

*Admittedly - I will still eat a packaged marshmallow on s'mores or in baked goods.

1 comment:

  1. Guilty pleasure alert! I'd eat the cereal bits first in Lucky Charms and save the strangely soggy-crunchy-hypercolor mallows until the end. Sigh. And, until a few years ago it hadn't occurred to me to make homemade marshmallows either! These sound so good and chai tea one sounds really delicious.