It snowed April 29th, 2014 and I can’t wait to go camping. I know you are reading this going, “oh that silly girl, she is going to say something funny to make a joke about people camping in snow,” but no, no I am not. Just as soon as I can see 2 days of sunshine, warm air and no snow or rain, I am going camping. Camping means several things to me; fun times, planning the food, breathtaking fires, the painstaking hunt for kindling, uninterrupted family time, meaning my brothers and I can joke about the dumb things we have done in our lives and not get defensive, anymore, which brings us closer together, nature, or as you and I like to call it mosquitoes, hiking, shooting sta…”what? You saw one? I blinked”, smoke, “black rabbit, black rabbit, black rabbit”, campfire hair (smell, look and feel) the lulling sounds of the night as I snuggle into the sack, only to wake up either freezing cold and sore from shivering or so hot I have forgotten I am camping and panic and then there are S’mores, delicious little dirty, messy morsels of chocolate, marshmallow and graham. My memory gives way to Kraft Jet-Puffed marshmallows and Hershey’s chocolate rectangles between two Nabisco Honey Maid graham crackers.
I have only met one person in my life that has ever made marshmallows from scratch. She was a culinary artist I worked with for several years and incorporated booze and powdered peanut butter. She made them using gelatin, so I thought that was how they had always been made. Nope.
According to the National Confectioner’s Association http://www.candyusa.com, the first marshmallow was derived from the mallow plant (Athaea officinalis), a plant that is native to marshes. Get it? Marsh mallow. Candy companies have now replaced the mallow with gelatin, which is how I was able to spend the afternoon making marshmallows. To think what was once only suitable for royalty, Americans now consume over 90 million pounds per year, or 1,125 full 18-wheelers. 90 million pounds!
I began my marshmallowy, gooey, sugary adventure.
• Mallow plants were used by doctors to soothe sore throats in the early 1800’s.
• At one point in time it took 27 hours to create one Peep. Today, it takes about six minutes. Technological advances… (ACA, 2014)
• The Girl Scout Handbook published the first S’more recipe in 1927. (ACA, 2014)
• Powdered peanut butter is the process by which the hydrogenated fat is removed from the peanut and then ground into a fine powder adding in sugar and salt. (PB2.com)
• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• Cooking spray, for coating the baking pan
• 2 ¼ ounce packets unflavored gelatin, powdered
• ½ cup + 1/4 cup cold water
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup light corn syrup
• 1/8 teaspoon salt (I used my kumquat and ginger infused salt)
• 1 large egg white
• 2 teaspoons Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean paste
1. Sift powdered sugar and cornstarch into a bowl, set aside
2. Coat an 8.5×11” baking pan, set aside
3. Empty gelatin packets into a mixing bowl and pour 1/4 cup water directly over it to let is soften
4. In a heavy bottom saucepan cook sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 cup of cold water and salt over low heat
5. Using a wooden spoon, stir until sugar is dissolved
6. Increase heat to medium high and boil mixture, DO NOT STIR
7. Let sit until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 10 minutes
a. If you cook it too long the sugar will begin to harden, learning the hard way my first batch produced spider webs of sugar from pan to spoon to shirt to floor to arm to hair…
8. Remove from heat and pour sugar over the gelatin mixture directly into the mixing bowl, stir until gelatin is dissolved
9. Gradually whip to high speed until thick and double in volume
10. In a separate bowl, beat egg white until it holds stiff peaks (see photo)
11. Add egg white and vanilla bean paste to mixing bowl and continue to whip another 1 minute or until just combined
12. Pour mixture into baking pan
13. Sift 1/2 cup powdered sugar mixture over marshmallow
14. Allow to cool, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours
15. Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan
16. Dust a work surface with a thin layer of the remaining powdered sugar mixture
17. Invert onto the surface and cut into whatever sizes you desire ( This is where I actually rolled it up like a jelly roll and wrapped in plastic wrap until I used it for my dessert)
“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”