Sunday, December 20, 2009

Marshmallows and Hot Chocolate

Aaron and I were supposed to be in sunny Spain this weekend, our last trip of 2009. But, the weather, or easyJet (or both) foiled our plans, and after 5 hours at the airport with nothing to show for it, we came home and spent a quiet weekend in cold, snowy Geneva. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, both for our fatigue and for our bellies!

With nothing planned, I chose to spend yesterday cooking: homemade chai to ward off the cold, iced sugar cookies, brie mac and cheese, and Aaron's favorite: homemade marshmallows.

I make marshmallows every year, and each time, I am amazed at their beauty and simplicity! I grew up on the packaged marshmallows of America, making s'mores over the camp fire as a girl scout. But, I discovered a recipe for homemade marshmallows many years ago from Martha Stewart, and now, I'll never go back to the plastic bag! (Which is probably good, since I don't think they are easily found in Switzerland.)

There seem to be many different recipes involving many different ingredients (including potato starch?), but I find my original recipe to be the best and the easiest.

The result: a beautiful, white slab of pure, soft marshmallows that, when cut into large squares, makes a cup of hot chocolate (ou chocolat chaud) even more lovely. You really have to try these. They are easy, a bit sticky, and a delicious antidote to the freezing temperatures that have arrived! Comfort food at its best.

Homemade marshmallows

2 packs of gelatin (approximately 2 tablespoons)
1.5 cups sugar (336 grams)
2/3 cup light corn syrup (168 grams) (This may be hard to find in Europe; I am not sure the equivalent, so I buy it from the American store, where they charge quite a premium! But, it lasts a long time, so you can make marshmallows for days!)
Dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil.
Pour 1/3 cup water (70 grams) water into mixing bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and let it soften for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, place sugar, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower to medium heat and cook until it reaches 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. This takes about 5-7 minutes.
Using a mixer, start whisking the gelatin, and slowly pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin in a steady stream. Increase the speed of the mixer, and beat until the mixture is thick, white, and almost tripled in volume. This takes about 10 minutes, so a stand mixer works best if you have one. Add vanilla and beat another 30 seconds to combine.
Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking tray, spread it out into a smooth layer (spray the spatula or spoon with cooking spray, because the marshmallows are sticky and every thing will stick to them!).
Let them stand at room temperature for 3 hours, or overnight. When ready to cut, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top and onto the knife. Cut into squares (or other shapes), and dip all cut sides into powdered sugar to cover the stickiness. You can use cocoa too for coating, to make some chocolate marshmallows. I've even seen people dip them into melted chocolate, which is quite fancy, although not necessary, in my humble opinion!

Now, all that is left is to make a cup of hot chocolate for the marshmallows, and you have the perfect cup of comfort! Enjoy!