Do you like marshmallows? I have always liked s'mores, but beyond that I've never been a huge fan of marshmallows. I can't see ever wanting a snack, running to the pantry to rip open a bag of marshmallows, and chowing down. But when I worked at Flour and I learned how to make the five-spice marshmallows for Myers + Chang, I realized that homemade marshmallows can be really, really good. So good you might actually develop cravings for them. So when I received a review copy of Shauna Sever's Marshmallow Madness!, a cookbook focused specifically on making marshmallows, I couldn't wait to try out some recipes.
Let's talk about the book first. It is adorable. The puffy (literally) cover features a pile of pastel-colored marshmallows in different shapes and forms, from flowers to multicolor twists to mini marshmallows. It definitely gets you excited about all the different marshmallows you can make.
In the introduction, Sever details all of the ingredients involved in marshmallow making (namely sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, water, salt, flavorings, and a coating made from corn starch and confectioners' sugar) and why you need them. She also describes all the tools you'll need (a candy thermometer is key) and offers helpful hints and techniques. And probably most important, she covers the three steps of making marshmallows in detail.
First, you make the bloom, which is basically softening the gelatin. Then, you make the syrup: A combination of sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt is brought to a boil and cooked until it reaches a certain temperature. (The syrup can be flavored.) Last is the mallowing. This is when the gelatin and syrup are combined and the marshmallow is formed and billows up in the mixing bowl. The introduction is so thorough that you'll be ready to jump right in and start making your own marshmallows after you read it.
But then as you flip through the pages looking at all the marshmallow recipes and pictures, I bet you will have a hard time deciding what to make first. I definitely did. In true Megan form I almost started out with a recipe for mini marshmallows. And then I was swayed by the deeply chocolate marshmallows. But, knowing that Valentine's Day was coming up, I soon changed my mind and opted to make strawberry marshmallows. But I couldn't stop there. I wanted to make heart-shaped marshmallows and dip them in chocolate to resemble a favorite Valentine's Day treat: chocolate-covered strawberries. Whether you love or hate Valentine's Day, I'm pretty sure you'll love these chocolate-dipped strawberry marshmallows.
Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Marshmallows (slightly adapted from Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes)
1/2 cup strawberry puree*
2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup strawberry puree*
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Classic Coating**
Bittersweet chocolate chips
Spray an 8- by 8-inch pan with baking spray.
For the bloom: Whisk together strawberry puree and water in a small heatproof bowl. Whisk in the gelatin, and let it soften for 10 minutes.
For the syrup: While the gelatin softens, combine the sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, strawberry puree, water, and salt in a large saucepan set over high heat.
Boil until the syrup reaches 240 degrees. Stir the syrup occasionally with a stiff rubber spatula. You may need to adjust the heat to keep the syrup from bubbling over.
Meanwhile pour the remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk.
Microwave gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds.
Pour the gelatin into the corn syrup. Turn the mixer on low and keep it running.
When the syrup has reached 240 degrees, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl (with mixer running). Increase speed to medium (6) and whip for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high (8) and whip for 5 to 7 more minutes, adding vanilla in the last minute.
Spread the marshmallow in the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to smooth the top.
Sift the classic coating generously over the top. Let set for at least 8 hours. (I left mine overnight.)
Use a knife or offset spatula to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of pan. Invert the pan onto a cutting board.
Pour some pink sugar into a shallow dish. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out marshmallows. Because the marshmallows are so thick, I halved each cutout to get two flatter hearts from each. Save scraps for snacking. Toss the hearts in the pink sugar, making sure to coat the sticky sides.
Lay a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet. Melt the chocolate chips, stir until smooth, and let chocolate cool slightly. Then dip the hearts into the chocolate or pour the chocolate into a paper cone and decorate the hearts. Place the hearts on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until chocolate sets up, about 10 minutes. Serve.
*To make strawberry puree, simply process fresh or frozen and thawed strawberries in food processor until smooth and then strain through fine-mesh sieve into bowl. I used a 12-ounce bag of frozen strawberries and had a little leftover puree.
**To make Classic Coating, sift together 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar and 1/2 cup cornstarch in large bowl. (Any leftover Classic Coating can be stored in an airtight container and used another time.)
Happy Valentine's Day!