I think it was when I was making homemade marshmallows that I realised that cooking is not just about ingredients, a little thing called technique can also be kind of important. Before then I just thought all there was to cooking was (1) you have ingredients, (2) you mix said ingredients together and (3) voila, you have a yummy dish! Hmmm. This is the case for a lot of tasty recipes, but sometimes there is just a little more to it.
When I was a child I remember making homemade marshmallows with my mum. I love science, so I was quite amazed by the fact you could take three simple ingredients – water, sugar and gelatine – and create marshmallows! A couple years later, one afternoon, when I was no doubt procrastinating from doing my homework, I decided to make marshmallows. It was simple right? Water + sugar + gelatine = marshmallows. So I got out my mixing bowl, added the three ingredients, gave it a stir and… well… no marshmallows. Huh? That’s right folks, whilst it is pretty easy to make marshmallows, you’ll need to follow a few simple instructions.
Okay, the technical stuff:
– always start off with cold water. Gelatine likes to be added to cold water then heated.
– use a large pot. The mixture has a tendency to boil over. Your house will smell like delicious toasted marshmallows, but you will also spend an hour or so the next morning (yes, this is how I spent my Sunday morning) cleaning a less than delightful sticky mess off your hob.
– if your mixture does start boiling over, reduce the heat then bring back to the boil.
– when you remove the mixture from the heat it will look a little like syrupy beer. Don’t fear. Your marshmallows will start out a little brown looking but will change to a stark white colour as you whisk them.
– use an electric mixer to whisk your mixture. Okay, some of you out there might like to sneak in a work out while you’re cooking, but these guns can’t quite handle 20 min of vigourus whisking, so I like to call on some technology for assistance.
– you will be mixing for a long time, around 15-20 min depending on you mixer. Patience! It will be worth the wait. I bet you’re considering that electric mixer right now.
– when cutting your marshmallows, cover everything, yes everything, in icing sugar to help things from sticking.
Some suggestions from Kate:
– if you have vanilla bean paste I recommend you use that. Or you can scrape out the insides of a vanilla bean pod. Not only does it taste great, it also gives little specks of vanilla throughout your marshmallows making them look homemade and beautiful. If you don’t have these, vanilla extract works just as well.
– try experimenting with other flavours – 1 tsp of rosewater, raspberry extract, peppermint extract or orange blossom all work quite nicely.
– you can also try coating your marshmallows in yummy things like melted chocolate, hundreds and thousands for kids, finely chopped pistachios (great with the rosewater), toasted coconut or crushed freeze dried fruit. If you do this, don’t coat your marshmallows in icing sugar first as you will want them nice and sticky to pick up the coatings.
I made a few batches marshmallows and even after eating the odd one (okay so I’ve eaten a little more than one) I still have A LOT of marshmallows at left over. Any suggestions for what I can do with them?
- 2 cups cold water
- 2 1/2 cups caster sugar
- 4 Tbs powdered gelatine
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Line a 20cm x 20cm (8in x 8in) baking tin with baking paper.
Mix together water and caster sugar in a large saucepan and sprinkle over the gelatine. Allow to sit for 2 min to allow the gelatine to absorb the water.
Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil whilst stirring. Boil for 10 min whilst occasionally stirring. Be very careful as the mixture will have a tendency to boil over. Reduce the heat if this is the case then return to the boil.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Using an electric beater, beat the mixture until it is white and doesn’t drop off a spoon, approximately 15-20 min.
Spread the mixture in the tin and allow to set. Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar.