Monday, October 8, 2012

Salted Caramel Swirled Marshmallows

My mom has always stressed to me the importance of spraying pans. Always. When I was first starting to bake this was the single most difficult thing for me to remember.

Far too many times, I would be pouring brownie batter (from my favorite boxed mix…because a 15-year-old newbie foodie knows no better. And boxed brownies are delicious) into a pan only to have my mom walk up behind me and say, “Did you remember to spray the pan?”

No. No, I did not.

The situation then went one of two ways. I would either 1) pour the batter back into the bowl and wash, dry, and then (finally) spray the pan and return the batter to it’s rightful place. Or 2) I’d tell myself I didn’t really need to spray the pan. It’s just a suggestion. A gimmick to get me to use one more product I don’t really need. The brownies would be fine.

I was an idiot. 

The brownies would bake and become the wonderful chocolately goodness I knew and loved. I was able to control myself long enough to avoid burning the bajeezus out of my mouth but eventually I couldn't take it anymore! I would cut the brownies, attempt to get a corner piece (my favorite) out of the pan, and come away with a fingerful of brownie crumbles. The rest of the piece would be stuck in the pan. And every time afterwards, when I went for a brownie, I would hack and pull and pry only to come up with a portion of what I really wanted. In retrospect, Option 2 was terrible.

But, I never liked Option 1 either. To me, the time I spent scraping out the pan and then washing away the batter I inevitably couldn’t get out (and I hated, HATED, wasting brownie batter) before spraying the pan and FINALLY putting the brownies in the oven for an agonizing 25 – 35 minutes, was just too much time and effort for my adolescent brain. I had more important things to be focusing on, like the upcoming episode of Gossip Girl or quoting Mean Girls incessantly to my best friend while we painted each other’s nails and flipped through Seventeen. (I hate and love myself for all of that being true.)

The thing about marshmallows, though, is that even my self-absorbed, somewhat shallow, and incredibly obnoxious teenage self would have known to spray the pan. There’s no getting around it. This is candy making people. Super fast and easier than you’d believe, but it’s still candy making. And marshmallows are stiiiiiiicky.

And tasty. Homemade marshmallows really do outshine they’re store-bought and bagged counterparts in every arena – flavor, texture, density – everything. Especially when you add a swirl of salted caramel. But, the only way you’re getting the delicious, caramel-y, marshmallow-y goodness is if you spray.the.pan. It’s the right thing to do.

Salted Caramel Swirled Marshmallows (makes 1 8x8 pan, adapted from Shauna Sever)

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 cup corn starch

2 packets unflavored powdered gelatin

½ cup cold water

¾ cup sugar

½ cup light corn syrup, divided

¼ cup water

pinch of salt

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Sift together the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a Tupperware with a sealing lid and set aside. This is what Shauna calls a “classic coating” and can be used for any marshmallow making.

SPRAY AN 8x8 PAN WITH BAKING SPRAY and set aside. (Do NOT skip this. I mean it.)

In a small bowl, stir together the gelatin and water and let sit until soft, about 5 minutes.

While the gelatin softens, make the syrup by combining the sugar, ¼ cup of the corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and whisk occasionally until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees (I like to turn down the heat when my thermometer reads ~230 degrees so I don’t burn the syrup).

As the syrup boils and gelatin softens add the remaining ¼ cup corn syrup to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Alternatively, if you don’t have a stand mixer just place the remaining corn syrup in a large bowl and use a hand mixer.

Microwave the softened gelatin for 20 seconds until totally dissolved and add to the bowl holding the corn syrup. Set the mixer on low and slowly add the sugar syrup after it has reach 240 degrees.

Increase the mixing speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase the mixer to medium-high and beat for another 5 minutes. Increase mixer to high and add vanilla extract, beat for another 1 – 2 minutes or until the marshmallows begin to “crawl” up the whisk attachment or beaters. The marshmallows should have doubled in volume and be thick, glossy, and white.

Using a rubber spatula coated with cooking spray spread ½ of the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan. Drizzle with the prepared caramel sauce over the marshmallows and using a wet butter knife, swirl the caramel into the pan. Top with the remaining ½ of the marshmallows and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Sift a generous layer of the classic coating over the marshmallows (saving any extra for later in the Tupperware) and leave uncovered, at room temperature for 4 – 6 hours, or even overnight.

To remove marshmallows, run a butter knife along the edge of the pan and invert onto a surface that has been lightly coated with the classic coating. Cut the marshmallows to desired sizes (I did about 1 – 1.5in. squares). Toss the marshmallows into the Tupperware with the rest of the classic coating and shake around to coat marshmallows.

Sift off excess coating from marshmallows and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

These are so fetch! 

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