My mom and I were discussing earlier that we both once thought marshmallows were an element. They just exist. Apparently, this is not true, but it just reinforces that marshmallows are mysterious things.

Anyway, I am done with finals. It is glorious. All I have hanging over my head are grad school applications. But I'm not thinking about those yet . . . that's tomorrow. Today it was time to celebrate my free time and make -- you guessed it -- marshmallows.

I feel like the last two days have been Christmas already. Yesterday, LO gave me all the spices and herbs her apartment had collected over the last semester, plus her rice and corn starch and oil (with the promise that she will make me Chinese food soon!). Everyone in her apartment is going to be abroad next semester, so they didn't want to take this stuff with them. Why people wouldn't want to pack thyme in their suitcases when going abroad is beyond me. Thanks, LO, for the spices! I basically have a full fledged spice cabinet now!
Then, I got home last night to a package from my aunt and uncle -- complete with two new cookbooks. So, last night was cookbook time. It really was like Christmas.

Then today, mom and I went and got our tree, went grocery shopping and I made marshmallows. What a day. It's nice to finally have home-y Christmas activity in my life.

So, marshmallows. They are not really elements. But they are like 95% sugar. Corn syrup on top of sugar on top of corn syrup on top of sugar. Joy the Baker (one of my favorite food bloggers) made them last week, while I was stuck in the land of studying. So I got home and made them. Obviously. I actually didn't use her recipe, though, I adapted one from Betty Crocker. She's another one of my favorite food ladies.
All I changed from her recipe was the peppermint part. Somehow marshmallows are always vanilla in my mind. None of this mint stuff. So I substituted vanilla extract for the peppermint extract. And I didn't bother with all the colored stuff. I prefer my marshmallows to look like clouds.

Honestly, they weren't nearly as hard as I thought, and didn't make as much of a mess as I thought.
The hardest part was standing there stirring while the sugar (and more sugar, and a little more sugar) dissolved. It reminded me a little too much of waiting for something to thicken. I usually try to avoid recipes that need to thicken on the stove at all costs. It always takes forever when I try. I don't get it. I just can't seem to get things to thicken. (Ask my parents . . . they know I've spent hours trying to thicken puddings before).
Thank you, tea, for helping me through the stirring!
Can you believe I had never used a candy thermometer before today? We actually had to buy one just for this. But I'm sure it will get used again.
However, I was eventually successful. Letting it get white and fluffy in the mixer was the easy part. Except, my poor dog who had to retreat outside because she was sick of the noise.
Anyway, it was basically like marshmallow fluff when it finished. Yum. Good stuff.
Then, four hours later, they are magically solid. So crazy. Meanwhile, we decorated the tree. Mom and I cut it wrong and Dad spent a while rigging it to make it stand right. What a guy.
They flipped out of the pan pretty easily with a little prying around the edges. (Thanks to my photographer assistant for these pictures!)
Please heed the directions to use Pam on the knife. It's seriously sticky stuff.
Then, like magic, the powdered sugar makes them not sticky anymore.
Dude, that was fun. Why have I never done it before? Can I do it again tomorrow?

^ Hazards of the job!

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Butter for greasing
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 tbsp. unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Grease the bottom and sides of an 11x7 glass baking dish with the butter.  Dust the dish with 1 Tbsp. of powdered sugar.  

Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water to soften and let sit in the bowl of a mixer.

Heat granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining water over low heat in a 2 quart saucepan, and stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved.  

Then bring to boiling, and cook without stirring about 30 minutes, until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat.

While beating on low speed, pour the syrup over the softened gelatin, then increase the speed to high.  Beat 8-10 mins, or until the mixture is white and is approximately tripled in volume.  Add the vanilla.  Continue to beat on high for 1 minute.

Pour into baking dish, patting approximately flat with wet hands.

Let stand, uncovered, 8 hours or overnight.

Dust cutting board with 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar.  Put the remaining powdered sugar into a small bowl.  Loosen sides of marshmallow mixture from the dish and gently lift onto the cutting board. 

Using a greased, sharp knife, cut into 1 inch squares (or use a greased cookie cutter).  Dip each marshmallow into the bowl of powdered sugar.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.


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