Corn Starch is Your Best Friend, Part 2
As I learned in part one of this series, making homemade marshmallows is rather simple. I am kicking myself for not having tried sooner! Now the ice has been broken, and this surely won’t be the last time I am up to my ears in cornstarch and sticky deliciousness. I have a list of different flavors I’d like to try next, fun shapes to make using my cookie cutters, and plenty more creative ideas of how to use them. First up was chocolate mint marshmallows. For part two here, it’s marshmallows using the same base of ingredients – sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, water. And the same basic steps too: mix water with gelatin, heat sugar and corn syrup, pour cooked sugar into gelatin mixture while beating.
This time, no egg whites. But a whole lot more beating time. So here’s one recipe where I would definitely say that having a stand mixer is a good thing, if not necessary. You may have arms like Popeye and an unlimited amount of patience, but I am not quite sure a hand mixer would be strong enough to withstand this heavy and thick a mixture. (I’ll have to give it a go and report back, hopefully with hand mixer still intact!) Fortunately I was with a friend who has a heavy duty stand mixer – and high quality espresso powder. And so it went, batch two: espresso marshmallows! Coffee being my very favorite flavor of confections and ice cream and chocolate bars, these were my favorite! So soft and fluffy too, squishy like the perfect homemade marshmallow should be!
Instead of just adding espresso powder, we made a small cup of coffee and added that. I imagine the extra liquid altered the texture of the marshmallow, and thus required even more beating for the marshmallow to firm up. As the whisk did its work, my eyes were stuck on the pretty swirls of the coffee blending in. It reminded me of spin art we used to make as kids, pouring the paint on to our paper as it spun on a record player. And even though it seemed like an awful lot of very dark coffee, it quickly faded to a light caramel color, and the flavor mellowed with all that sugar. Best of all – the aroma was extraordinary!
Again, with the extra liquid, the marshmallow didn’t firm up as much as the chocolate mint marshmallow did. You’ll be even more attached to that box of cornstarch this time! Be very generous with your sprinkling, and be sure to coat all sides of your cut marshmallows.
Feel free to be creative with shapes and sizes. I started off with the traditional French style guimauve in long strips. But because they were so delicate and not quite stiff enough, squares worked much better. I made medium size and more minis again too. Both were really excellent in a hot chocolate, and simply melted in your mouth after a minute or two.
Here’s the recipe below. And oooh, I can’t wait to share the last and final part of this series… so stay tuned once again!
Based on recipes by Paul Lukas (New York Sun, June 2005) and Molly Wizenberg (Bon Appétit, July 2008)
About 1 cup cornstarch
1 cup cold water
3 1/4-oz packets unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup boiling water
2 Tablespoons espresso powder
Line a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Pour 1/2 cup cold water into bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs water, at least 15 minutes.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining 1/2 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat and bring syrup to a boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit (115 degrees Celsius).
With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in thin stream down the side of the bowl (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk, as it may splash). Gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick and stiff, at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve espresso powder into boiling water in a small cup. Stop mixer and pour coffee in to marshmallow. Start slowly and then beat at high speed for another 10 minutes or so.
Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the marshmallow onto the baking sheet or into the pan and spread well. Dust the top with cornstarch and let the marshmallow set in a cool, dry place. Let stand uncovered at room temperature overnight.
Once they are 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, or keep dipping in cornstarch. Have a big bowl with the remaining cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you?d like ? into squares, rectangles or strips (as they?re cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you have 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.
Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place.