Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Marshmallows and Crispy Cakes





I had a craving: For marshmallows. Pretty straightforward.

I had a reason: It has been scientifically proven that if you give your company marshmallows shortly before leaving, your colleagues are 76% more likely to buy you a drink at your leaving party. 

I had a friend: She knows who she is. Always the gooiest, marsh-mallowiest, crispiest bites of heaven would she prepare but never would she share the recipe. This, my friend, is my revenge.

I had a challenge: I mean, come on, marshmallows. People sell homemade marshmallows for £6 a piece! They are one of those things which many people wouldn't even consider to be homemade. So of course I must make them. Also I have never cooked with gelatin. And I don't own a sugar thermometer. Good start.

I must admit that the marshmallows were slightly more ‘moist’ than initially intended, but with a good sprinkling of icing sugar I managed to bring the bounce back. You must remember that this is my first marshmallow attempt and without a sugar thermometer. I think I should have a pat on my sticky-with-marshmallow-fluff, icing-sugar-covered back for effort.

It was almost like Christmas this morning, waking up before my alarm and barely containing my excitement before leaping out of bed to check on my pillow lumps of honey and vanilla goodness.

I was concerned I would turn up to work with icing sugar in my hair on and on my face but then I remembered I was leaving the company the next day. And icing sugar is a good look.

Some pictures for you. Sadly none of me post marshmallow making because you would laugh at me, not with me.




Honey and Vanilla Marshmallows
(with help from David Lebovitz)

Quantities: Loads. A good tray-full (as above)

Timings: Prep: 20 mins with allowance for stickiness
Setting time: 3-4 hours or overnight

Kitchen Stuff:
Kitchen aid or hand mixer
Baking tray with 1 inch sides
Bowls

Ingredients:

  • 2 envelopes (17g) powdered gelatin or 17g sheet gelatin (8 to 10 sheets)
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) + 80ml (1/3 cup) cold water
  • 200g (1 cup) sugar - I used a mix of caster and granulated with a tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 100g (1/3 cup) runny honey
  • 4 large egg whites (1/2 cup, 110g), at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
Method:

Marshmallow Powder
One part corn flour, one part powdered sugar (about 1 cup, 140g, each)
INTRO TO GELATIN: In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the 125ml (1/2 cup) of cold water to dissolve and soften. If using leaf gelatine (like I did), soak the leaves in about 500ml (2 cups) cold water.
SUGAR MELTING: In a small saucepan, mix the sugar and honey with 80ml (1/3 cup) water. Place over medium-high heat. When it starts bubbling, put a timer on for 8 minutes if you have no sugar thermometer. 

FROTHY EGGS: In a large bowl (or your Kitchen Aid bowl) pour in the egg whites and beat on low speed until white and frothy. Add the pinch of salt.

When the syrup is nearly done, after 6 minutes or at about 99ºC, increase the speed of your mixer and beat the egg whites until thick and fluffy.

THE SECRET COMBINATION: When the syrup has bubbled for a good 8 minutes or your sugar thermometer reaches 118ºC, slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg whites with the mixer on high speed.

Pour the syrup down the side of the bowl and NOT onto the speeding whisk which will splatter the syrup everywhere.

Don't wash up your syrup pan.

GELATIN PART 2: If using powder gelatine, scrape the gelatin and water into the pan that you used for the syrup, or put the gelatin sheets and 2 tablespoons of the water into the pan and swirl it to dissolve. The leftover heat from the pan will dissolve it.

Pour the melted gelatin slowly into the whites whilst still mixing. Add the vanilla extract or paste and continue to mix for about 5 minutes, until the mixture feels completely cool when you touch the outside of the bowl.

SPREAD 'EM: Dust a baking sheet evenly (sieve works well) with the marshmallow powder (you made earlier) and spread on a generous layer of marshmallow mixture using a spatula to even out the surface. Make sure there are absolutely no bare spots. Like so:

Just look at it, so soft and whippy.

Allow to dry for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, uncovered.

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD: Put about 140g (1 cup) of the marshmallow mixture into a large bowl.

Dust the top of the marshmallows with some of the marshmallow powder. Use a pizza cutter, scissors or a good old knife (dusted as well with the marshmallow mixture) to cut the marshmallows into and shape or size your heart desires. Toss 'em in the marshmallow powder then shake vigorously in your sieve to remove the excess powder. 

Look around your kitchen and marvel at how you have managed to cover each and every surface with marshmallow powder.

You can keep these in a tuppaware or tin for up to a week or so. 

Marshmallow Crispy Cakes
(with help from Nigella. Oh how we love Nigella)

Disclaimer: Easiest. Recipe. Ever. BUT OH SO DELICIOUS.

Quantities: 1 large tray full of thick ones. Or as nigella says, 24 squares (bit precise I think)

Timings: Prep: 20 mins
Setting: 2-3 hours or overnight

Kitchen Stuff:
Large high sided tray or 2 smaller baking dishes
Large saucepan

Ingredients:
45g butter
300g mini marshmallows (as you can see, I used pink ones)
180g rice krispies


  • Method:
  • I'M MEEELLLTING:
  • Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan on a low heat. Pour in the marshmallows and stir into the butter. Cook gently until the marshmallows are completely melted into one giant marshmallowy lump, stirring constantly.

  • SNAP, CRACKLE, POP:
  • Take the pan off the heat and add the rice krispies. Stir gently until it's all combined.

  • IN THE PAN:
  • Grease your pan(s). Press the mixture into the pan into an even layer. 
  • Now, this is very tricky because the mixture will be the stickiest thing you have ever come across. To combat the sticky-ness, rip of a chunk of baking paper and lightly grease it. Use this piece of baking paper to push the mixture down into the edges of the pan. 

  • Let the mixture cool completely for an hour or so at least. I kept mine in the fridge overnight and it treated them delightfully.

  • Cut into squares. Eat.