Today I found myself pursuing the cold. I didn’t bundle up on our walk to the park after dinner. I did not turn up the heat when I got home. I removed my layers down to a t-shirt and procrastinated putting on my slippers just so that my chill could be cured from the warmth of a cup of hot cocoa topped with homemade marshmallows. I remained in a continuous slightly chilled state until I tucked my sweet boys in bed, so that my enjoyment of my warm treat would be uninterrupted. From there I placed a saucepan on the stove, filled it with milk, brought it to a boil, turned off the heat and added several pieces of dark chocolate. I poured this luxurious concoction into a large mug then topped with two pillowy puffs of whipped vanilla bean studded heaven.
For moments like these I not only welcome the cold, I invite it in like a long lost friend because nothing is more satisfying to remove a chill then with a steaming mug of rich hot cocoa and sweet vanilla scented homemade marshmallows. Now if only I had a fireplace to curl up to.
If you have never met the deliciousness that is a homemade marshmallow I not only encourage you I URGE you to stop what you are doing and whip up a batch. The process is simple. Don’t let the cooking of sugar scare you off – just don’t burn yourself because that would definitely hinder your enjoyment of this intoxicating treat.
adapted from Alton Brown
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cups cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup (or glucose)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Add the vanilla seeds. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with aluminum then spray with pan spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel or sharp knife dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. (I suggest doubling the recipe – yes, they are that good.)