sunnuntai 18. marraskuuta 2012

Squishy Squishy

Marshmallows. People either absolutely love or hate these fluffy treats. I happen to belong to the haters... kind of. So I have been extremely enthusiastic to make these different kind of candies. I almost find it even more fascinating than baking itself but don't worry, I'll still keep on baking. :)
I fell in love with this candy making book, reading it over and over again. It is absolutely amazing how simple looking they can be yet they need very careful and patient cook. The chocolate lover in me wanted to prove that I am capable to do any kind of candies, not only chocolates.
The trickiest part of making these puppies was that the candies include all kind of unhealthy stuff. Not like it is a surprise to me but the fact that they don't sell all those ingredients in normal groserie store. It meant that I had to go hunting again. Last time I had troubles with finding some condensed milk, which actually turned out to be easy compared to this. I googled hours to find a simple bottle of corn syrup. It was vital to find it since it's not replaceable with normal syrup. Corn syrup isn't as sweet as normal syrup and it also give the certain kind of texture to candy. It's used almost in every kind of candy you can see on the store shelves.
They sell corn syrup in wholesale and basically the container, better like barrel, includes 30l (~8 gallons) of that syrup. How would I ever be able to use 30l of that to anything?! I barely use 1 tablespoon of that to one batch of this kind of candy. Finally I was lucky enough to find this lovely store which imports american products to Finland. They have a reasonable 500ml bottle of that syrup. For my Finnish readers I recommend to visit Behnford's (WTC Plaza Keskuskatu 7b 00100 Helsinki). Look for the bottle which is on the picture below.

So marshmallows, let's see what we need..

Marshmallow batter:
Vegetable oil for greasing the pan
50 g (1,8 oz) Icing sugar
50 g (1,8 oz) Corn starch
2 Egg whites
400g (14 oz) Fine sugar
1 tbsp Corn syrup
3 3/4 dl (1,6 cups) Cold water
4 tbsp Gelatin powder
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Red food color
Yellow food color

So we start by greasing a baking tray or the greaseproof paper placed on the tray. I feel it's more hygienic with the paper, not a necessity though.
Sift the icing sugar and corn starch into the bowl and sift some of that mixture on the baking tray. I moved the strainer a bit too fast so my powder layer didn't come out too even. Afterwards I can recommend you  to make sure there's that powder all over that, it just comes off a bit easier in that way.

Whisk the egg whites into hard foam and set aside. They might separate a bit but it's easy to be fixed by whisking it some more.
Mix fine sugar, corn syrup and half of the cold water into a small pot on the stove. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. When that has happened, increase the heat and let it boil until it reaches the hard ball stage (130°C, 266 F) I bought a sugar thermometer just for these candy occasions since that shows the different stages between the numbers.
I also want to bring up something important at this point. I went wrong somewhere after this since my marshmallows settled too fast and I didn't get to smooth it up. I'm still not 100% sure what went wrong so hopefully you succeed better in this!
Soften the gelatin powder in the rest of that cold water and proceed with the instructions given on the powder's container. Okay, now we get to the tricky part where you have to be fast.
Right before the sugar liquid reaches the 130°C start to heat up the gelatin on the stove too. When the sugar liquid is the right temperature, mix it up with the gelatin and add the vanilla extract.
Whisk the egg whites nonstop while slowly pouring the mixed liquid into it. Keep whisking until they're properly mixed. Then whisk it again until you can create little soft piles from it, recipe says at least 7 mins of whisking but with me, the batter cooled down so much that it started to settle. So try to hit the perfect time with that.
Divide the batter into 2 different bowls so you can add the food color. A couple of drops should do it but it's up to you what kind of color you want it to be. The recipe still tells you to whisk some more until it's stiff. I shouldn't have and soon you'll see why..
Spread the yellow batter on the tray and then pink one on it pretty quickly. then you should have just enough time to smoothen it out before it starts to settle. Let the marshmallow to settle for about 5 hours.

After 5 hours you can go ahead and sift some of that icing sugar/corn starch powder on the marshmallow sheet. The you can cut into pieces you like and add again some of that powder. In the beginning, they might absorb a lot of it but be patient. :)
Serve right away or keep them in a airtight box.
So up there you can see my attempt with these. By the looks, one could say that it's a total disaster. I had to leave rest of that yellow batter to aside since I got to the point where it was no use to spread on the pink one. It simply just stuck to the palette knife. I should just have done a simple one-color batter and spread it there. My expectations of myself were just too high and I thought it was a piece of cake even though I have never even made these! :D
But hey, how did they taste like?
Honestly, I thought I was eating the actual marshmallows bought from a store. The texture and flavor was EXACTLY the same! We were all fascinated by the fact how close they were to the mechanically produced ones. This process made me understand better the difficulty on candy making and actually kind of like these soft pillow-like candies. All I need to do is to realize the limits of my skills and that way to improve them little by little. 

We see again on the next time when I'm making chocolate fudge so keep the spirit up chicsters!

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