Recently in a chat, I was wishing for peppermint marshmallows to put into my hot cocoa. A friend found this recipe, and Littlest (only in the sense that he's the youngest, these days, because he's nearly as tall as I am) and I amassed our ingredients and set to work.
Well, more like I hit the grocery store on the way home from work one day and amassed the ingredients, including way more unflavored gelatin than I will ever use in my entire lifetime. I needed three packets, and the only box they had held 32. Apparently, they're expecting the Jellocalypse at Fred Meyer. Had I known that I needed a minyan to use all the gelatin I'd be forced to buy, I'd have gotten my posse together for Jello wrestling. Seriously, up until this point in my life (and I'm staring forty in the face), I have never once made anything with unflavored gelatin. That would be why I'm a food n00b, not a food hax0r. You knew what this was coming in, don't get all snotty now.
Anyway, I digress. Who knows, maybe having all that powdered animal protein taking up space in my cupboard will inspire me to get creative.
I hauled all the ingredients home and we set to work. Well, we started to set to work, until I realized that I would need a candy thermometer, which I did not have. I had a meat thermometer, an ear thermometer, and the old-fashioned under-the-tongue (till Mom leaves the room and you heat it on the lightbulb to convince her you need to stay home from school) kind. None of these go up to 240 degrees, of course, and it's not the sort of thing you can just guess at. Candy and baking, as far as I'm concerned, are two pursuits that require a certain amount of precision. (Along with tattoos, but that's for another time.)
So, without a candy thermometer, all we could do was stare sadly at the sugar and corn syrup as they taunted us from the counter, safe in the knowledge that they would not be cooked that night. The next day, I had to pick up my car from the body shop downtown, thanks to my job's overcrowded parking lot and the creative parking choices of those using it. Mister dropped me off and, as it was a couple of hours till the car would be ready, I hit Sur La Table for the thermometer. (Along with a free mini-latte, from someone demonstrating one of those fancy machines that are basically Cool Ways To Make Instant Coffee That Doesn't Suck.) Thermometer in hand, I trooped up Burnside and, after a brief internal debate over hitting either the Dollar Tree or Spartacus (link not safe for work, kids, or certain religious sects), was joyfully reunited with Peabody (my green Cube, first new car I've ever had and am paying for all by myself almost like a real damn grownup.)
Blah blah blah, this has nothing to do with making marshmallows, I know. So what all this means is that last night, Littlest and I were finally able to make our marshmallows. There was a brief moment of "not again" when I realized I had to sift powdered sugar and we do not own a sifter (n00b, remember), but a mesh teaball came to the rescue and worked just fine. This was without a doubt the messiest, stickiest, goopiest thing I've ever made, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. (It would probably have been less messy and more fun if I had an actual stand mixer instead of a little hand-held - 15 minutes of mixing gets boring, yo.) My kitchen looked like the set of a low-budget bukkake film (if you don't know what that is, look it up - on second thought, you probably don't wanna know), but the marshmallow goop seemed to be about the consistency it should be. Instead of just red food coloring folded in, we used red and blue both, because we're like that, and I added about a half tablespoon of vanilla extract in addition to the peppermint the recipe called for.
We dutifully let the marshmallow goo sit overnight - what we could get out of the bowl and off the spoon, anyway. Today, I had to hunt down the bag of powdered sugar, which Mister, the compulsive tidier, had put away. I attempted to follow the instructions for removal from the pan (slide a knife around the sides, tip over) but the marshmallow (at this point, it was still just the one big one) was having none of that. I ended up having to wrestle it out of the pan, which left me with a lump of marshmallow dough the side of a baby's head. Nothing to do but grab my knife and dive in.The resulting marshmallows, far from being tidy little squares, looked like refugees from the Island of Misfit Candy. They were stickier and denser than I'd expected, though whether I screwed something up along the way or my expectations were off and the marshmallows were fine, I have no idea. The peppermint taste, which had been overly strong in the fluffy goo stage, had eased up somewhat. Still a big strong, but perfect for their intended use - making the Sorcha-family's hot chocolate minty fresh. I made me a cup and ohhhh, yeah, that shit was decadent. It actually left Littlest speechless, which, since he's my kid, doesn't happen very often. (That's a ferret on the side of the cup, by the way. I like ferrets.)
So, the result was pretty satisfactory. I'd suggest that if you're going to be eating these straight up, rather than putting them in something, you might want to cut the peppermint extract to 3/4 tbs or so, but they're perfect for hot beverages. I really want to do this again, with other flavors - but not until I get me a Kitchenaid stand mixer. Not only would it be easier, but I'm pretty sure that the hand mixer was traumatized beyond rescue by the thick marshmallow goo. RIP, little Betty.