Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Peppermint Marshmallows

Chocolate? Peppermint? It must be Christmas. Yahoo! The season is here and it's one of my favorites. And on the subject of favorites this here recipe is one of my kids' favorites. Seriously, as far as they're concerned, it's not Christmas if I don't make these. One year I hadn't planned on making them and I almost had a revolt on my hands. But luckily, these are very easy to make and I was able to quell the revolution. So, difficult? No. A bit time consuming? Yes.  There are a lot of steps and there is some waiting time, so I'll dispense with a lengthy introduction and get right to it. . .

Here's what you need: unflavored gelatin, granulated sugar, light corn syrup, salt, peppermint extract, candy canes and powdered sugar. You'll also need semi-sweet chocolate chips and shortening. (But I forgot to show them. Oops!)

Start by crushing up 5 or 6 regular sized candy canes. I "triple bag" them and use a meat tenderizer. I highly recommend the "triple bag", those little shards can get sharp and easily cut through just one bag. Then you have a real sticky mess on your hands.

There you have it, crushed candy canes. Cover them until you need them.
They tend to absorb moisture out of the air and start to clump up quick.

Next, set a 8x12-inch pan on a rimmed cookie sheet and dust liberally with powdered sugar. Get a good layer going. You shouldn't be able to see the bottom of the pan.
I really like the disposable pans from the Dollar Store for this. Just makes it easy!

Put the gelatin and 1/2 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer and let set for 30 minutes to soften.

While the gelatin is softening get your sugar syrup going. Add the sugar, another 1/2 cup water, corn syrup and salt to a saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar is totally dissolved.

Wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
Don't skip this or you'll get grainy sugar syrup.

Clip on a candy thermometer, raise the heat and cook to the "firm ball stage" (244°F) without stirring. This may take a while. Be patient! I love this digital thermometer. If you are going to do any serious candy making, I highly recommend it.

When the sugar reaches 244°F immediately remove it from the heat. Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment and turn it on low. Slowly pour in the hot sugar, running it down the side of the bowl, avoiding the moving whisk. If it hits the whisk it will fling hot sugar all over. Not fun!

Once the hot sugar is all in and has melted the gelatin, set the mixer on high and whip it until its thick, white and almost 3 times its original volume. This is not thick, white or tripled in volume.

This is. Yea. Add the peppermint extract and beat to incorporate.
Add the crushed candy cane and stir until evenly distributed.

Pour the mixture into your prepared pan. The candy cane will turn it a lovely shade of pink with little red flecks. I love it!

Wet your hands and pat it evenly into the pan.

Dust the top with more powdered sugar and let set out overnight, uncovered, to dry out.

Turn it out onto a cutting board. You may need to loosen it up a bit from the sides of the pan.

Use a very sharp knife to cut 1-inch squares. If you have trouble with the knife sticking, run the knife under hot water, dry it off and then try cutting.

Toss the squares with more powdered sugar.

And set them on a sheet to dry out the edges. I let them dry overnight again. That pile there in the corner is all the "scraps". I like really straight sides so I trim off the edges before cutting into squares. I have no trouble finding someone to scarf up those scrap pieces.

You could stop right here and you'd have lovely peppermint marshmallows. Perfect for a creamy cup of hot chocolate. I save a few for that. But let's take some to the next level: Chocolate Dipped.

Once the marshmallows have dried and the edges are no longer sticky, toss them around in a strainer, set over a big bowl, to knock off any excess powdered sugar. If there is loose sugar left on then the chocolate won't coat evenly.

Line them up on a silpat mat.

Melt the chocolate and shortening together until smooth and liquid. I have this fancy schmancy chocolate melter thingy but you can use a glass bowl and the microwave. Microwaving and stirring 15-30 seconds at a time until it's melted. Plop a marshmallow into the chocolate.

Quickly flip it over to coat.

And lift it out with a fork. Tap the fork several times on the side of the bowl to knock of any extra chocolate. Then use a skewer to slide it off onto the silpat mat. Sprinkle lightly with any extra leftover crushed candy cane.

Yummy, chocolate dipped, home made, peppermint marshmallows. Great for eating. Great for giving. You're going to love 'em!

Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallows
Adapted from Martha Stewart's "Homemade Marshmallows"

2-1/2 T. unflavored gelatin (approx. 3 envelopes)
1-1/2 C. sugar
1 C. light corn syrup
1/4 t. salt
1T. peppermint extract
4T. crushed candy canes, plus extra for decoration. 
      (approx. 5-6 regular sized candy canes)

3 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 T. vegetable shortening

Powdered sugar for dusting

Set an 8x12-inch pan on a rimmed cookie sheet and dust generously with powdered sugar. Set aside. Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Let stand 30 minutes.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and another 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan and place over low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
Clip on a candy thermometer and raise the heat to high. Cook without stirring until it reaches 244°F (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.
With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high and beat until mixture is thickened, white and almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add peppermint extract, beat to incorporate. Add crushed candy cane pieces and mix briefly to distribute.
Pour mixture into prepared 8x12 pan. Pat smooth with wet hands. Dust with powdered sugar and let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out.
Turn out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares and toss in a bowl with more powdered sugar.

Microwave chocolate and shortening on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Continue to microwave, 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between until chocolate is melted. Dip marshmallows in chocolate and sprinkle tops with crushed candy cane.

Makes about 40 marshmallows

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