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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chocolate Marshmallows

So we’re almost to the end of the month. Where has January gone? I can tell you where. Half of you were sick for at least a week. Facebook, twitter and blog posts have told me this. At least half of you were hiding inside, getting away from the horrific snowstorms, torrential rain and floods. The vast majority of you were busy avoiding your mailboxes and inboxes, afraid of those Christmas bills arriving this month. Luckily, we still had each other.


To celebrate our hard work this month, I thought we deserved some sweets. Did you know that you can make your own candy? For the longest time I thought those Hershey and Mars people were magical. How do they churn out those chocolate bars, filled with caramel and cookies? How are these gummy bears so cute? As a kid we didn’t have a lot of candy in the house. It was a special treat for when we went to the movies. I would get cherry Tangy Taffy, it was awesome. If someone can locate some Tangy Taffy, please send me a box!

When I was in college we got cable. Yes, college! I went to college in 1999, not thirty years ago. According to boyfriend, I was a deprived child. I never got to watch Nick at Nite or MTV and apparently I will make a terrible Trivial Pursuit partner in ten years. (Seriously, boyfriend has refused to be my future Trivial Pursuit partner!) This lack of cable until the new millennium meant that I didn’t get to watch the Food Network until ten years ago! And then I was introduced to Unwrapped.

Unwrapped, that fantastic show with Mark Summers (the TV game show host from Nick at Nite, see I know stuff) that shows us exactly how foods are made. Suddenly the mysteries were beginning to unravel. Snickers bars are made in layers, by a robot. Gummy bears are formed in cornstarch molds, by a robot. Luckily we don’t need robots to make candies at home. And for the fact that we do not use robots, we can call our candies “Artisan” chocolates. Enjoy.

Also, the secondary purpose for posting these chocolate marshmallows is... You can bid on them in an online bake sale on Monday, January 31st!  Stephanie at Steph's Bite by Bite is hosting an online bake sale to help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  She will be running a marathon to benefit this cause and needs to raise $1,900 to help battle against Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hodgkin's Disease and Myeloma.  Stop by and check out all the goodies up for action and help surrport a good cause!

Artisan Chocolate Marshmallows
Adapted from Marshmallows

I’ve decided to start my year of candies with marshmallows because they are so fun! They fit into my “healthy January” because they are fat free! Usually. I decided to throw in a bunch of chocolate, thereby making them not fat free, sorry. Luckily homemade marshmallows are so much more satisfying than store bought, that you can eat just two and be happy. I’ve made marshmallows with and without eggs, I prefer this egg-less method. It’s also so much easier to make them with a stand mixer, although I’ve done it with a hand held mixer too. Just works out those arms muscles more! Just read the WHOLE recipe first, prepare yourself for hot sugar!

To prepare these marshmallows, you have to think ahead and make the Marshmallow syrup. This is used instead of corn syrup. I’ve found this makes for better marshmallows, fluffier!

2 cups water
5 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients in a large stockpot. Stir until the sugar is wet. Bring mixture to a boil and put the lid on for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and clip on your candy thermometer. DO NOT STIR! Continue to cook until the temperature reaches 240 degrees. Remove from the element and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Ladle into clean jars.

When you are ready to make your marshmallows you can heat this up in the microwave for 2 minutes to loosen it up and make it pourable.

Now, on to the marshmallows!
½ cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup boiling water

4 tbsp gelatin
½ cup cold water
2 tsp vanilla

½ cup water
1 ¼ cups marshmallow syrup
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups sugar

2 ounces semisweet chocolate

Coat a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray, then wipe it down with a paper towel. You don’t want a ton of oil in the pan.

In a small bowl, mix cocoa and boiling water until smooth, set near the stove.

In another small bowl, combine gelatin, ½ cup cold water and vanilla, set near the stove.

In a large stockpot, combine ½ cup water, marshmallow syrup, salt and sugar, stir to combine. Bring to a boil and wash down any crystals of sugar with a wet pastry brush. Clip on your candy thermometer and heat until temperature reaches 260 degrees.

Remove from the heat and add bloomed gelatin, stir. Be careful, it will bubble up on you. Add cocoa powder and stir until combined. Pour into a clean bowl. With a hand mixer, or the whisk attachment of your stand mixer, gradually increase speed to high. Whip for 15-18 minutes.

In a medium bowl, melt chocolate using your desired method (double boiler or on medium-power in the microwave). Take 1 ½ cups of the marshmallow mixture and fold it into the melted chocolate. Return all of this to the mixing bowl and fold together. It’s okay for it to be a little streaky. Pour into your prepared dish. Let sit for at least 4 hours, I let mine sit overnight.

Using a pizza wheel cut the block of marshmallow into smaller pieces. (Try very hard not to gnaw on the whole block of mallow!) Toss in coating (3:1:1 powdered sugar-cocoa powder-cornstarch), shake of excess and enjoy!

I know it sounds like a lot of work, it’s just a lot to write and read!
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