Thursday, 3 May 2012

Book Review: Marshmallow Madness

Marshmallows had been on my list of things to make for ages so a few weeks ago I was very pleased to receive a book entirely devoted to them.  The cutely titled book Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipesis a bright and colourful book written by Shauna Sever and contains a wealth of information and tips on how to make marshmallows together with a plethora of recipes using a wide variety of flavour combinations.

For my first recipe I decided to start with the basics and try the Classic Vanilla Marshmallows. I've always thought that marshmallows would be a bit tricky to make but I was pleasantly surprised.  As long as you spend a little time getting all of the ingredients measured out the rest of the process is pretty straightforward. Yes, you will need to use a sugar thermometer when heating up the sugar but please don't let that put you off.  I think the whole process took me about thirty minutes from start to finish.  Having said that you do have to spend a little more time later on when the marshmallow has set and it's time to turn it out and cut it up but nothing too daunting.  It was actually quite fun and the marshmallows came away from the tin nicely and were easy to cut into squares.

They tasted good too and pretty similar to the shop-bought variety, although the texture isn't quite the same.  A sweet tooth is a pre-requisite though, for these ones anyway, and you wouldn't want to eat too many at one sitting.

The next recipe I tried was the Key Lime Pie which added lime juice to the basic recipe and used biscuit crumbs to coat the outside.  I liked this one even more than the vanilla as the lime juice helped to cut through the sweetness and the biscuit crumbs added lovely texture.

There are so many more varieties I want to try out - Deeply Chocolate, Strawberry, Buttered Rum, Sea Salt Caramel Swirl and maybe even the Maple-Bacon! - to name just a few.

Overall this is a lovely, well designed book, with recipes that really work.  You can find it on Amazon at the moment for around £8.  Many thanks to PGUK for sending me a copy to review.

Classic Vanilla Marshmallows
(from Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever)

4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided (in the UK golden syrup is a good substitute)
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup classic coating (Sift together 1 1/2 cups confectioners' (icing) sugar and 1 cup cornstarch.  This will keep for ages in an airtight container)

1) Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking tin with cooking spray or oil. Whisk together with gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and leave to soften for 5 minutes.

2) Stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup, water and salt in a small to medium saucepan over a high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240f.

3) Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1/4 cup of corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Microwave the gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds.  Pour it into the mixer bowl.  Set the mixer speed to low and keep it running.  (I used a hand held mixer with only one speed setting and worked fine).

4) When the syrup reaches 240f, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes.  Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the vanilla. The finished marshmallow will be opaque white, fluffy and tripled in volume.

5) Pour it into the prepared tin using an offset spatula to smooth it into the corners.  Sift coating evenly and generously over the top.  Let set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.

6) Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut into whatever sized pieces you wish (a pizza cutter works great for squares). Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more coating, patting of the excess.

Makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2 inch marshmallows.

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