Merry Marshmallows

I'll be honest, until about 5 days ago I was in no mood for anything Christmas-related. Between my new position at work and my boyfriend working 60 hour weeks I was tired, crabby, and uncharacteristically Grinch-like. However, after weeks of fighting my inner Martha Stewart I finally gave in and decided to tackle something gelatin-related that I could give as gifts: marshmallows! I'd never made marshmallows before but after coming across this adorable bag of Candy Cane Marshmallows I knew I had to try. I did a little research and finally settled on Alton Brown's marshmallow recipe with a few minor adjustments based on people's comments/reviews.

After investing in jelly roll pans and a fancy thermometer from Sur La Table (thanks to a generous good-bye gift from my old team at work) I broke out my trusty inherited Kitchen Aid mixer and got to work.

First, gather your ingredients. You'll want everything measured and ready to go because you have to move fast with these buggers.

3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin

1 cup ice cold water, divided

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or peppermint extract)

Red food coloring (optional)

Nonstick spray

First, place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer (with whisk attachment) along with 1/2 cup of the water.

Then, in a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.

Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 8-10 minutes.

Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. I used just vanilla for my first batch but decided to make peppermint marshmallows for my second batch. I used half a teaspoon vanilla and half a teaspoon peppermint extract plus a few drops of red food coloring. In theory, the food coloring would marbleize and make red swirls but I ended up with a light pink instead. I'll have to try a different method next time...

While the mixture is whipping, lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle in some powered sugar and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with some powered sugar and let sit uncovered overnight.

*So everything was relatively easy until I reached the "pour the mixture into the prepared pan" point. Similar to the Hanukkah Jigglers debacle I found myself home alone on a Friday night (you're jealous, I know) with the cat watching as I struggled to wrestle the quickly hardening marshmallow mixture evenly into the pan. My first attempt (picture above) wasn't exactly even and I decided I'd let it mix too long (the Alton Brown recipe says to mix it for 12-15 minutes). The second time around I only let it mix for about 10 minutes and it was much easier to get into the pan (the end result was softer and fluffier too).

After letting the mixture set overnight I lifted each giant marshmallow out onto a cutting board and cut strips using a pizza cutter. Then, my magical Christmas elf photographed me using the pizza cutter and kitchen shears to slice the strips into small pieces.

Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with powered sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

I was a little disappointed that they turned out all different shapes with some thick and fluffy and some flat and sad. After snipping them into even smaller pieces and tossing them together I think they look better.

My extended family and faux-family exchange homemade gifts at Christmas so I decided to give bags of marshmallows along with a bag of hot cocoa mix. My Christmas elf also helped me put these bags together and I think they're pretty stinking cute (if I do say so myself).

I will definitely make these again - they are super easy to color, flavor, and make into different shapes with cookie cutters. Oh the wonders of gelatin...

Happy molding!