Honey Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

Oh hi, it’s me. I’m here. Did you think I forgot about my little blog? No, I didn’t forget. I’ve just had a difficult time making it a priority, but a friend asked me when I was going to post the recipe for marshmallows that I made a few weeks ago for a camping trip, so I figured that I should get my butt in gear.

The truth is, I don’t love marshmallows, but they are cool because many people only know them as the store-bought variety. I made chocolate marshmallows a few months ago and was looking for a reason to make vanilla ones. Our annual camping trip was coming up, and I thought that s’mores with homemade marshmallows would be fabulous. The marshmallows tasted great on their own, but didn’t hold up very well for s’mores. Instead of bubbling and toasting the way that store-bought ones do, they kind of just melted and dripped.  I’m not sure if this is true of ALL homemade marshmallows, or specific to my version.

I’ve been (very) slowly working my way through Peter Greweling’s Chocolates & Confections, so I decided to try his marshmallow recipe. He describes them simply as “marshmallows,” but I thought that the honey and vanilla bean flavors were fairly pronounced, so I describe them as “honey vanilla bean marshmallows.” All measurements are based on weight, so it is best to use a food scale. As Greweling does, I am listing both grams and ounces for each ingredient.

Marshmallows

From Peter Greweling’s Chocolates and Confections (with a couple of my notes)

Ingredients

  • 40 g (1.5 oz) Gelatin
  • 230 g (8 oz) Water, cold (for hydration)
  • 680 g (24 oz) Sugar
  • 340 g (12 oz) Glucose syrup (I use light corn syrup)
  • 110 g (4 oz) Honey (The flavor really comes out, so don’t use a honey that you don’t like the flavor of!)
  • 110 g (4 oz) Invert sugar (I made my own using sugar and lemon juice. I don’t have the exact instructions, so you will have to Google it or buy it)
  • 170 g (6 oz) Water
  • 20 g (1 oz) Vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
  • 1:1 confectioner’s sugar/cornstarch blend

Instructions

  1. In a heat-proof bowl, add gelatin to cold water.
  2. Combine sugar, glucose syrup, honey, invert sugar, water, and (if using) vanilla bean (whole pod, sliced open with seeds scraped into the pot) in a heavy saucepan and cook to 122°C/252°F. (I use a digital candy thermometer). Remove vanilla bean pod.
  3. Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and allow it to cool to 100°C/212°F.
  4. While sugar mixture is cooling, place bowl of gelatin over simmering water until melted.
  5. Mix the gelatin into the sugar mixture. Whip on high speed for about 8 minutes, or until well aerated. It will greatly increase in volume. If using vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean, add at this time.
  6. Line a half sheet pan with oiled parchment paper. Don’t be shy about using oil. The marshmallow mixture is VERY sticky as it sets. It’s ok to use any pan that will give you the right depth for your marshmallows.
  7. Pour marshmallow mixture into the pan, and place another piece of oiled parchment paper on top of the marshmallow, oil side down. Flatten the top by hand until smooth and allow to set overnight.
  8. Combine equal parts cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar. Using a well-oiled chef’s knife (because most people I know do not own a guitar), slice marshmallow into pieces the size of your choice (mine were about 1.5 inches square).
  9. Toss each piece in the sugar/cornstarch mixture and then shake in a fine mesh sieve to remove excess powder.
  10. Enjoy!

Operation Homemade Snickers

When thinking about the next confectionery project to tackle, I am often overwhelmed by the possibilities. I am still such a newbie to the confectionery world that there are so many basic things that I have yet to make. Having people make requests is helpful in providing me with some direction, instead of having to agonize over the decision (and agonize, I do). Recently, my husband’s co-worker requested homemade dark chocolate Snickers bars. My husband thought that I would laugh at the request, finding it too complex and intense to handle. I, however, am not one to shy away from a culinary challenge. Many hours later, my back aches, my feet feel like they have daggers in them, I’m exhausted, and the kitchen is covered with splatters and smears of chocolate, but hey, look what I made!

Dark Chocolate "Snickers"

Freshly Coated Dark Chocolate "Snickers"

Milk Chocolate "Snickers"

Explanations of each step are to follow.

Chocolate Marshmallows

Wait, wait, wait. You can MAKE marshmallows? That’s crazy!

And make them, I did. In early May, I picked up my trusty Chocolate and Confections book by Peter Greweling, and attempted to make marshmallows for the first time. I find it especially satisfying to make things that people typically only know as store bought. After this project, I set out to make graham crackers, but that project was a giant failure. Anyway, the marshmallows went well. See, look!

Dark chocolate filled with coconut butter ganache

Mmm….coconut and chocolate…I really wanted to make some sort of chocolate, so I was browsing through my bible (aka, Chocolates and Confections by Peter Greweling). I have yet to purchase certain key confectionery ingredients that I can only get online, so that limited my options. I wanted to do a molded chocolate because my molds have been feeling neglected, but I also wanted to try a new filling. I came across the “Butter Ganache” section of the book and decided to give it a try. I’m not going to post the exact recipe because the recipes in Greweling’s book have such technical components behind them that I feel like it’s a disservice to just post the recipes by themselves (and I’m too lazy to explain the techniques). As time goes on, hopefully I will figure out the best way to blog about the projects. I’m still learning.

The filling included: Melted and tempered white chocolate, room temperature butter, cream of coconut, coconut extract, and shredded coconut.

This particular project presented some challenges. For Christmas, I was fortunate to receive several pounds of Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate. Because I’m still learning how to work with chocolate, I typically buy the Trader Joe’s Pound Plus chocolate. It is inexpensive, easy to work with, and easy to obtain. After many months of using the TJ’s chocolate, the Callebaut chocolate certainly was a treat…or so I thought. I melted it down and went through the tempering process. I couldn’t believe how thick it was. It seemed way too thick to be able to pour into the molds. I was certain that I had done something wrong. It didn’t help that it was extremely hot and humid the entire time that I tried to work with it. I tested the chocolate for temper and it just didn’t seem to be setting up. I tried tempering it 2 or 3 more times and finally said, “I give up. I’m just going to pour it in the molds and see what happens.” Well, it turned out to be fairly well tempered. I had some minor marbling, perhaps from the heat/humidity, or maybe due to the several attempt at tempering, but in the end, it turned out better than I had predicted.

Raspberry filled chocolate hearts


Chocolate heart with raspberry fondant filling
Originally uploaded by guava6982

Chocolate FAIL. This project had potential. It certainly didn’t taste bad, but for whatever reason, my chocolate bloomed. Working with chocolate is no easy task sometimes, especially if weather conditions are less than ideal, thermometers aren’t working, or if I get distracted. I’m not totally sure what went wrong with this one, but it’s something that I’m working on. I also haven’t mastered the art of getting rid of air bubbles, as you can see. Despite the apparent failure of the project, I was still proud that I made fondant from scratch for the first time, flavored it with raspberry jam, and filled chocolate shells for a delicious end product, even though it’s not the prettiest.

Making the fondant (Sorry, I can’t get things to line up correctly!)

After mixing and cooking the sugar syrup, I poured it onto a marble slab (the top of a kitchen cart, in my case), to begin the crystallization process.

I worked the sugar syrup on the marble slab using a bench scraper. At this stage, the sugar has begun to crystallize and has taken on a ribbon-like pattern, similar to salt water taffy. It also has become slightly opaque.

The syrup continued to crystallize as I worked it on the marble slab, becoming more and more opaque and taking on a glue-like consistency.

The end result? FONDANT!! Woo hoo!!! When finished, the fondant is uniformly white and resembles a mass of that glue paste that we all used as kids. It is now ready to go into a sealed container to “ripen” overnight. Ripening will improve the texture and flavor.