Last Sunday I went over to Brigette’s and we baked and made candy for hours. Many hours. We also had delicious garam masala that she made, drank a bottle of wine, and celebrated an early Christmas with her roommate, who’s off to South America to study abroad.
The day started with me dropping Dave off at the airport , and running around to get some Christmas shopping done. I also grabbed a bunch of baking materials, and brought them all over to Brigette’s. But I forgot one thing: a candy thermometer. And Brigette’s turned out to be out of hard-to-find-batteries.
What’s a girl to do? SCIENCE, that’s what.
We made candy WITHOUT A THERMOMETER, and it turned out perfectly. That’s right. Because behind every marshmallow – behind every piece of bread, caramel, steak, every piece of food ever – there’s science and chemistry. And that is why cooking rocks.
Here’s what you need to make peppermint marshmallows – this recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart.
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 4 packages (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
- 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 teaspoons red food coloring
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Cornstarch, for tossing.
Line a 8×8 inch glass pan with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. Then, cook the sugar, corn syrup and 3/4 cup of water into a small saucepan and cook gently over medium heat, stirring pretty frequently, until the sugar is dissolved. Once it has dissolved, stop stirring, turn the heat to medium high and allow the mixture to come to a boil.
The water is going to boil out of it, making it a pretty sticky syrup. This will probably take 10 minutes or so – the syrup is read when it gets to 260 degrees on your candy thermometer. OR, if you are themometerless, it is ready when it reaches the “hard ball” stage, which means that the syrup turns into a hard ball if you drop it into a glass of ice water.
This is the method Brigette and I used. I tried to take a photo of it, but it was a pea-sized ball of pure sugar, and the camera basically couldn’t even see it. Weird problem to have.
Back to the recipe! While the sugar is boiling, sprinkle the gelatin over 3/4 cup of water in a heatproof bowl , and let stand for five minutes while you start simmering an inch or two of water in another saucepan. Then set the bowl in the simmering water and stir with a whisk constantly until the gelatin is dissolved. Then, take it off the heat and stir in the peppermint extract.
Then, start beating your egg whites. If it is at all possible for you to do this with a stand mixer, I suggest that you do so. But a hand mixer will get the job done. Beat the egg whites until you get stiff peaks. Don’t go too far!
Quickly whisk the gelatin mixture into the sugar syrup, and start the mixer again on medium. Slowly add the gelatin/sugar mix to the egg whites, and then turn the mixer up to high for about fifteen minutes. It will thicken significantly, but if you have one of the little plastic shields for the mixer bowl, I definitely recommend using it.
When the mixture is done, pour it into the lined baking dish and then quickly drop dots of red food coloring across the surface. Then use something thin – a toothpick, chopstick, butter knife, etc., to swirl the food coloring around. Work quickly so the food coloring does not pool at the bottom of the marshmallows.
Allow to stand at room temperature for three hours, and then use a pizza cutter to slice the marshmallows into squares. Immediately place the squares into a bowl with a few tablespoons of cornstarch and toss to coat so they do not stick together.