By Erika Mathieu
Certain recipes come to mind depending on the season. Harvest time evokes squash, sage, and savoury roasted vegetables. While winter is known for soup, stews, and holiday baking. Summer showcases a wide variety of fresh fruits, produce, and barbecue.
One such item commonly associated with summer is the humble s’more. It is something which, in my opinion, can be enjoyed year-round. The flavours really make sense for winter, too. Warm spiced, honey, graham crackers, bitter dark chocolate and these homemade marshmallows which are surprisingly easy, and customizable. They work great on top of hot chocolate or fancy coffee and Baileys too.
To make the marshmallows, all you need is 20 minutes, a stand (or hand) mixer, and a nine-inch square pan.
Begin by lining the nine-by-nine pan with saran wrap and a light coating of neutral oil. In your mixing bowl, sprinkle 0.75 ounces of unflavoured gelatin (three 7g pouches) over 1/2 cup of cold water and soak without mixing for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine two cups of granulated sugar, 2/3 cup of light (clear) corn syrup, and 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan. Whisk until sugar is dissolved, while bringing to a rapid boil. Once with mixture reaches a hard boil, set the timer for one minute to bubble without stirring. Very carefully pour the hot sugar mixture into the bloomed gelatin and water mixture and turn your stand or hand mixer to low. Starting on the lowest setting, slowly increase the mixing speed to high and beat for a total of 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture holds stiff peaks and has almost tripled in size. A mallow should be fluffy, and just slightly above or at room temperature.
Depending on your taste, once the mixture has been beaten to stiff peaks, you can add a tablespoon of vanilla extract. I added 1/4 teaspoon of grated fresh nutmeg. But I think I will try a dash of orange extract on my next go around. In keeping on theme with the holidays, a few drops of peppermint extract would likely [please the thin-mint lover in your life. Beat for an additional 30 seconds to incorporate any added extracts, before pouring the mixture into the prepared pan lined with saran wrap and coated lightly in oil. Use a neutral cooking oil or spray to very lightly and gently coat your hands before pressing the marshmallow blob into the baking dish. Lightly oil a piece of saran wrap and cover the marshmallow. Refrigerate and allow to set up for at least four hours or overnight.
Once the marshmallows have set, mix together 1/4 cup corn starch with 1/4 cup of icing sugar.
Oil a knife, (I like to use my kitchen shears for better control) and cut the marshmallows into strips lengthwise and then across into one-inch squares. Use the cornstarch and in confectioners sugar mixture to coat the marshmallows.
Store for up to five days in an airtight container. Alternatively, you could pour the mixture into a slightly larger but more shallow baking dish to create a thinner marshmallow and use a lightly oiled cookie cutter to punch out festive shapes after the mixture sets.
Food gel could also be incorporated into your mixture during the whipping stage to create custom colours or top mixture with crushed candy canes or holiday sprinkles for a perfect hot chocolate topper.