Judy of Judy's Gross Eats selected Marshmallows, pg: 404-405, for this week’s TWD challenge. I must confess that I was tempted to sit this one out. In fact, I still have serious reservations not only about this recipe, but the entire point of making marshmallows from scratch. I just don’t see the allure. My reasons are simple: 1) I can buy a 1 lb bag of marshmallows at the grocery for less than 2 dollars 2) I think gelatin is really gross and should not be knowingly consumed 3) what on earth could I possibly do with a batch of marshmallows?! I mean, come on! Do you eat them with tea? I read Ms. Greenspan’s description of how she decided to include them in her spoon desserts section. Here’s where she and I part ways. If I were serving a spoon dessert to company, I would not feel comfortable serving marshmallows, even if they are lovingly made by hand. I would select homemade ice cream, crème brulee, mousse, or any of those sorts of spoon desserts. I don’t mean to quibble; I just think marshmallows are a component of s’mores and Rocky Road Ice Cream, and will never be the main attraction in my book. So, I decided to compose my email to the wonderful leader of TWD, Laurie, explaining my beliefs when I looked up and saw my hero, the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, in her immaculate kitchen, making, what else, but MARSHMALLOWS! Did any of you catch that episode last week? She made toasted coconut marshmallows and her lovably snooty description sold me and I decided to take it as an omen that I should attempt this week’s TWD. The outcome? I crashed and burned. I should have just hit “send” to that email to Laurie and called it a day. My marshmallows ended up .000000025 mm thick, that’s 2.5x10-8 mm for you mathmatics majors. (don’t laugh! I’ll troll all the unsuspecting math blogs out there trying to get them to link to our food blog!). In any case, have a look for yourself.
(If you are wondering why they are a shade of unappetizing tan, it's because I followed Ina Garten's advice and toasted some coconut for the marshmallows.
My marshmallows suck. I honestly don’t see much difference between these and store bought, other than the store bought taste really chalky. But it’s a difference so slight that I’m unwilling to bother with making marshmallows again. After I realized that these marshmallows were content to sink unabashedly to the depths of my pan, thumbing their collective noses at me, I wondered what I could do with these. I asked my husband if he wanted to go camping (so we could make s’mores) and he said no and that he had to do our income taxes. I could have made rice krispy treats but I don’t have rice cereal in the house. So, I decided to make Rocky Road Ice Cream, which I alluded to above. And there you have it. Toasted nuts, chocolate, eggs, cream, milk, and those miserably thin, unsatisfying marshmallows.
Oh, and these super thin ‘mallows totally disappeared in the ice cream. The only remaining sign of those cursed marshmallows is that delicate, pleasant chew they lend to classic rocky road ice cream. See, marshmallows are best when they assume the role of quiet workhorse, behind the scenes, so the chocolate and toasted nuts can take center stage.
Please visit the other TWD bakers to enjoy their successful marshmallow experiences!
From Baking: My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 1 pound marshmallows
About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water, divided
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet -- choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high -- with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Syrup: Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup -- without stirring -- until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)
Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy -- don't overbeat them and have them go dull.
As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.
Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won't fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups). Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more. Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like -- into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.
Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like -- into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.
Rocky Road Ice Cream
Adapted from “The Perfect Scoop” by David Lebowitz
8 ounces milk chocolate, at least 30% cocoa solids, finely chopped
1 (1/2) cup heavy cream
1 (1/2) cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
Pinch kosher salt
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vodka, neutral flavor
¾ cup marshmallows, cut in ¼ inch pieces, or use miniature
¾ cup toasted almonds
1) Combine milk chocolate and cream in large, heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted, then remove bowl from saucepan. Set it aside with a mesh strainer over the top.
2) Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, WHISKING CONSTANTLY, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
3) Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. See Eggbeater for a good description of making the crème anglaise.
4) Pour the custard through the mesh strainer into the milk chocolate mixture. Add the vodka and mix together. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
5) Chill the mixture overnight in the refrigerator. Freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During the last five minutes of churning, add the toasted almonds and marshmallows.