Marshmallows are spongy confections made of sugar beaten into a fluffy texture with the aid of gelatin. Marshmallows are essential components to many popular American snacks such as Rice Krispies Treats and S'mores (a sandwich of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows melted over a campfire).
Marshmallows were originally made with the sap of the root of the marsh mallow plant instead of gelatin. The sap was cooked with egg whites and sugar and whipped into a foam. This foam hardened when cool and was cut up and used as a type of throat lozenge (marsh mallow sap reportedly acts as a cough suppressant). In the late 1800's, the marsh mallow sap was replaced with gelatin, and egg whites were phased out of most mass produced recipes.
There are mainly two types of marshmallow recipes: those which use sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin only and those that fold in an egg white meringue before cooling. Although, many claim that the best marshmallows have egg whites, I wanted to try making marshmallows as simply as possible (without, hopefully, sacrificing taste and texture), so I decided to try out an eggless recipe.
I started by reading over a dozen marshmallow recipes before settling on the recipe credited to Chef Thomas Keller.
I prepared a 9x13-in. glass baking pan by greasing it with butter and sifting powdered sugar over it to coat the bottom and sides. [IMG]
The recipe calls for 3 envelopes of Knox gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water. 3 envelopes of gelatin is equivalent to 3 tablespoons or 21 grams of powdered gelatin. Make sure you use the unsweetened and unflavored kind. [IMG]
I poured the water and gelatin into the bowl of my stand mixer to allow the gelatin to bloom. The recipe calls the gelatin to bloom for ten minutes. [IMG]
While the gelatin was blooming, I measured out 2 cups of sugar, 2/3 cup corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water. [IMG]
I brought the mixture to a boil and deviated from Chef Keller's recipe a little. Instead of boiling for one minute, I allowed it to boil until the sugar's temperature passed 250°F. This brings the sugar into what is known as the hard-ball stage (when dropping the sugar into some water will form a hard ball that is not easily deformed) and is the traditional temperature of sugar used for making marshmallows. [IMG]
I ran the mixer at low speed while drizzling in the boiling sugar syrup. Once the syrup was mixed in, I turned up the speed a little and added about 1/4 tsp. salt. The recipe calls for mixing at a high speed, but I couldn't turn up the speed to high without risking splattering 200°F sugar everywhere. [IMG]
When the mixture begins to fluff up, I scraped down the bowl and turned up the speed to high. [IMG]
Once the volume of the marshmallow stopped increasing, I added 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. After the extract was mixed in, I stopped the mixer. This took about 8 minutes from when I started mixing, a few minutes short of Chef Keller's recommended twelve minutes. [IMG]
I poured the marshmallows into the prepared pan and smoothed roughly with a silicone spatula. Several internet recipes recommend oiling plastic wrap and using it to flatten the top of the marshmallow. [IMG]
I let the marshmallow cool and set by leaving it on the dining table uncovered overnight. I then inverted the pan over a cutting board covered in powdered sugar. I released the marshmallow buy pulling from a corner and working the marshmallow loose from the baking pan. [IMG]
I used a large pizza wheel to section the marshmallows one row at a time and dredging each piece in powdered sugar until the sides weren't sticky anymore. [IMG]
So, how did the marshmallows come out? I felt that the flavor and texture were right on. Since I dredged the pieces with powdered sugar, the exterior was a little sweeter than the marshmallows sold in supermarkets. This was actually a pleasant effect since my marshmallows were fairly large and the sweetness emphasized the difference between the exterior and interior of the marshmallow. I did occasionally smell the gelatin while cutting the marshmallows and was afraid that the flavor would be tainted, but once I had dredged the piece, I couldn't detect any gelatin taste. All in all, I'd say this is a pretty good homemade marshmallow recipe.
Marshmallows (yields about 40 large marshmallows)
Grease 9x13-in. pan and powder with powdered sugar
Joined: 10 May 2005 Posts: 1644 Location: Austin, TX (USA)
Posted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 5:56 am Post subject:
re: recipe output size
This recipe yields about 1-1/2 pounds of marshmallows. The bags int eh store are usually 8 ounces or 1 pound.
I would use the flat beater in the electric mixer because the marshmallow will thicken up and a lot will be trapped in the whisk and on each of the spokes. This may cause some difficulties with the electric mixer.
re: corn syrup
Yes, high-fructose corn syrup will work. It seems to me, you may be able to do the recipe without any corn syrup and just starting with more granulated sugar. The texture may be different, but it ought to work. Maybe add just a little corn syrup to minimize crystalization.
re: gelatin substitution
I expect that you can use either agar or pectin to help provide the structural support to hold the sugar syrup in a foam - but I'm not sure what effect that will have on the texture or taste of the marshmallows. I expect that you will have something similar (perhaps better) but not quite like the store bought marshmallows (primarily because gelatin is a protein while the others are carbohydrates and gelatin has a distinct texture and flavor). Experimentation will be necessary to determine just how much agar or pectin to use.
You can purchase kosher or vegetarian "gelatin" which is usually a mix of carageenan and gums.
for those interested in vegetarian / vegan gelatin substitutes, do a Google search on "marshmallow recipe vegan" for good options. From "Emes Kosher Gel" (which contains carageenan, a suspected carcinogen [www.ewg.org] ) to a "vegetable gel from seaweed" (from http://www.pangeaveg.com/ )
Joined: 10 May 2005 Posts: 1644 Location: Austin, TX (USA)
Posted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 5:58 am Post subject:
Food grade carrageenan has not been shown to be carcinogenic. Degraded or low molecular weight carrageenan is a suspected carcinogen and should not be used in food products. Tests have shown cancer causing properties in both animal and human tissue.
Food grade carrageenan may affect some people by giving them stomach or intenstinal discomfort but is still generally regarded as safe (GRAS).
You don't need oiled plastic wrap, just some wet hands. One option for coating is some cinnamon sugar, the crunch from the granulated sugar adds a nice texture. More time consuming, but well worth the effort, melt down some of the best dark chocolate you can find. (MY FAVE IS LINDT 75% OR HIGHER) Try to get the coating as thin as possible.
These are unequal to anything you've ever bought.
Thanks to Michael Chu and Phoex for the info on carrageenan. While you're being helpful does anyone have reference to the study on the carcinogenic effects of Degraded Carrageenan? i'm wondering if its an oxidant thing that can be balanced with anti-oxidants, or something else.