The Tank.

My little big sister Andrea is fun, I mean SUPER fun. She is my younger sister but I call her my little big sister because she is taller than me. She is also known as the tank. She is a tall gal that can get into your face when she wants and doesn’t give a rats ass who you are. She will tell you what she thinks and you have to live with it. She is intimidating and occasionally scary… just like a tank. 😀 This past New Years Eve was at my house, it was fun. Lots of family, lots of fun and loads of good times. It was the second event/holiday that my husband and I hosted at our home. It was awewsome to see the whole gang, which in reality was not even the whole gang. We were operating at 40% or so. But I’m looking forward to Christmas 2008; we will be having the W-H-O-L-E gang. Eek! For N.Y.E this year my sister and I made Rice Krispies Treats for the kids. We went shopping for ingredients and as we went down the marshmallow aisle I quickly grabbed the store brand and went on my way. She called me a cheapo. I told her it’s the same thing as the other brands but I’m saving like two whole dollars, TWO DOLLARS! She gave me a look, rolled her eyes and called me a cheapo… again. 😐

In my defense, I’m a bargain shopper. I don’t spend more than I need to on anything. Depending on what I am cooking or baking I will opt for the store brand for an item, if available, or a cheaper brand. I can save between $12-$50 dollars on my food bill. It isn’t saving thousands of dollars but I see it as a more money in my pocket. We all know extra money is needed with the rising gas prices. 😦 To be completely honest, with many items I have not tasted or seen a difference in the quality of the item. The Wal-mart brand, Great Value, of zip-lock bags close just the same as the Ziploc brand does, the GV frozen corn cooks up just as juicy as the Del Monte brand and the GV chocolate chips make cookies just as ooey, gooey good as the Hershey’s chocolate chips. 🙂 There are a few items that I won’t substitute like cocoa powder, preserves or BBQ sauce. But if I can save a few bucks here and there with off brands I will.

Since having this incident with my sister any single time I walk down the marshmallow aisle I think of her and it makes me miss her. She lives in California and I’m in Arizona so we don’t get a chance to see each other all that much. But, boy, when we do see each other we have fun, I mean SUPER fun. 🙂 These are for her and I really hope she always knows how much I love her, no matter what happens.

When I saw that this weeks recipe for TWD was marshmallows I was so excited! I had a few problems with the sugar syrup. I let it go half a minute longer and it began to get rock hard! But the third time is the charm and I think my ‘mallows came out fantastical. I plan on making Rice Krispies treats this weekend when 25% of the gang hopefully comes over for the husbands birthday partay. Check out other TWD members here.

Including marshmallows as a spoon dessert may seem like cheating — after all, they’re eaten with fingers (or, by campers, from sticks picked up in the forest) — but making them at home is too much fun to miss. And in fact this dessert is related to others in this chapter: the base is meringue — sweetened and strengthened by a cooked sugar syrup and fortified by gelatin.

There’s nothing difficult about making the marshmallows, but the meringue does need a long beating. While you can use a hand mixer, a stand mixer makes the job easier.

I’m giving you the recipe for a basic vanilla marshmallow. See Playing Around (below) for raspberry, chocolate, cappuccino and pumpkin marshmallows.

Makes about 1 pound marshmallows

About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

3/4 cup cold water

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet — choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high — with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup — without stirring — until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)

Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy — don’t overbeat them and have them go dull.

As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won’t fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).

Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They’ll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.

Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you’ll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you’d like — into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they’re cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you’ve got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.

SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table — it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.

STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don’t cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week — they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they’ll still be very good.

Playing Around

RASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies.

For raspberry marshmallows, you’ll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.

CAPPUCCINO MARSHMALLOWS: Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.

LIGHT CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.

PUMPKIN SPICE MARSHMALLOWS: Whisk together 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.

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12 Comments

Filed under sugar, Tuesdays with Dorie

12 responses to “The Tank.

  1. CB

    I am totally a bargain shopper and I have problems by store brand. Most of the time there’s no taste difference for me but there are a few things that I have to get name brand. One of them is peanut butter – has to be Skippy – for my husband. Your marshies look light and fluffy. Great job!
    Clara @ I♥food4thought

  2. CB

    oops. that should say “no problems”.

  3. what a sweet sister story….your marshies look so delicious!

  4. Can’t wait to hear how the rice krispie treats turned out, well done!

  5. So glad they turned out well for you!
    Food prices have been skyrocketing, making me more of a bargain shopper than I’ve been in a while. I’ll buy restaurant-sized items if it will save some money, even though it takes a while to get through it!

  6. That’s an awesome picture – playing on the spoon dessert comment at the beginning of the Dorie intro! Great job!

  7. I love the spoon shot! Great job!

  8. LyB

    Great looking “freeform” marshmallows! Glad they worked out for you, they look delicious!

  9. The marshmallow and hot cocoa combo looks beautiful. Great job! It seems to have turned out well.

    Funny you should write about buying generic brand products…I’m a huge fan of generic brands because you money you save doing this can really add up. I actually think some generic brand products are better than name brand products. However, this past weekend I attempted the Perfection Pound Cake from the book, and it turned out way too buttery. I’m wondering if my use of Great Value butter had anything to do with strong flavor because a lot of cookbook writers call for the best butter that you can find.

  10. thanks for the encouraging words 🙂 i’m sure that everything will end up much better because of the sacrifices we’re making right now.

    what part of arizona are you in? that’s where hubby just left to. i’ll be moving back down there to reunite with him in september or october. we’ll be in gilbert/mesa!

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