Thursday, February 10, 2011

they're pink!

I don't remember ever liking v-day as much as I do this year! We never celebrate it as a couple because it's so close to my birthday, but this year, I'm going all out. Baking that is... Plus it probably has something to do with the fact that Chaboo is old enough to grasp that there's something special about the day this year. She wants to give out valentines to pretty much everyone she's ever met. That kid has a lot of "friends". So i'm trying to plan out treats to give out with the valentines I made for her.

 This morning, inspired by Shauna at Piece of Cake, I made Strawberry Pink Marshmallows. The original plan was to sandwich homemade marshmallows between two homemade graham crackers and a schmear of ganache for homemade smores. Now, I'm glad I tested out a graham cracker recipe last month... Don't know if it was my mad skills, or the recipe, but they turned out rock hard. Chab couldn't even bite into them. She made a mess had a blast decorating them though... So scratch the graham cracker idea. I'm hoping to make these chocolate cookies, and have them sandwich the marshmallow for some kind of chocolate strawberry sandwich cookie. Or maybe, the marshmallow would be better showcased alone? We'll see... In any case, what kid doesn't like marshmallow? Marshmallows were actually the first taste of sugar Chab ever had. I had used (store bought) marshmallows to decorate her cupcakes for her first birthday. Her eyes went wide when she managed to get those in her mouth!

 Now, I made marshmallows for the first time last xmas for a 
hot chocolate cake I brought to a family gathering. I was pretty proud of myself and thought they were awesome, but never having had homemade marshmallows before, I had no clue what they were supposed to be like. Then I read up more about them, and read that they're not supposed to have that wet jello-like mouth-feel. And although the mixture was a breeze to pour into the pan in an even layer, I had a hell of a time trying to get them off the icing sugar covered parchment paper. So, thought I'd try a different recipe.

I'm so glad I did! They are insanely good! From what I remember, the method is pretty much the same, but the ratios must be different or something... This one called for greasing the pan as opposed to covering it with icing sugar. It worked so much better!  The thicker consistency of the mixture made it much harder to get into a smooth layer. I had pretty much managed, until I decided that I wanted them to be "prettier", so I dipped a toothpick in gel color, and swirled it in the mixture. Now, there was no way they we're going to be nice and even. They're a bit too thin for my liking, although, if I end up putting them between two cookies, I think it'll be perfect. I'm definitely going to be making this recipe again, but in a 8x8 pan, to get nice chunky blocks of marshmallow to plop in my mouth! And now that I know where to get those tiny bottles of flavour... oh boy! The possibilities are endless!

Strawberry Marshmallows

Barely adapted from : Piece of Cake

Makes a 9X13 pan
2 packets unflavoured powdered gelatine (1 tbsp each)
1/3 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, devided
1/4 cup water
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
6-7 drops strawberry flavouring
2-3 drops pink gel food coloring
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted, for dusting

Grease a 9x13 pan with a small amount of shortening, using a paper towel to rub it lightly and evenly onto the bottom, sides and edges of the pan. Set aside.

Combine the 2 packets of gelatine and 1/3 cup cold water in a small bowl and let the gelatine soften for 5 minutes.

Place the 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1/4 cup water and pinch of salt in a medium saucepan and stir gently. Clip a candy thermometer onto the pan, and place it over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, checking it occasionally--you are looking for it to eventually hit a temperature of 235-240 degrees (soft ball stage).

Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave the gelatine on high until it is completely melted, about 30 seconds. Turn the mixer on low, and very slowly pour the melted gelatine into the corn syrup.

Once the syrup reaches 235-240 degrees, pull it from the heat. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the gelatine mixture. When all the syrup has been added, crank the speed up to medium-high and let it go for about 6 to 7 minutes, until the bowl is barely warm to the touch. The candy will turn white and fluffy during this time. Beat in the vanilla.

Beat in the strawberry flavouring, just a couple drops at a time, stopping the mixer to taste the marshmallow, adding more drops until you reach the desired intensity. Beat in the food coloring, drop by drop, until you get the color you're looking for.

Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula spritzed with a bit of cooking spray to nudge it into the corners and smooth the top. (I used a silicone spatula, and it only kinda worked. At that point, I swirled more coloring in the mixture to get a marbled effect.) Sift confectioners' sugar evenly and generously over the top. Let sit for about 6 hours.

Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan and invert it onto a confectioners' sugar-dusted work surface. Dust the marshmallow slab with more confectioners' sugar and cut into whatever size pieces you wish (a pizza cutter works great here for squares). Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more confectioners' sugar, patting off the excess. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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