Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas Candy Cane Marshmallow

...if you have a sweet tooth - this is the post for you!
I've never made marshmallow before, nor really ever thought about it - every recipe I have found has a 'CAUTION' or 'BEWARE' type label which scared me a little.  But, as I was having an experiment, I prepared myself for it all to go wrong and just see how it went, success or ... not.  If I had to do it all over again [which I definitely will], I've noted where I would maybe change my method or alternative options - if you have a go too, as always, I'd love to hear about it [thethingsshemakes@yahoo.co.uk]

What I Used:
My recipe was a variation from this BBC Food recipe
7g of powdered gelatine
225g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
25g corn flour
25g icing sugar
1 drop of red colouring
2 candy canes

Please note: Before I ramble about this experiment, I would like to say that this marshmallow was made for immediate consumption.  I would not recommend adding the peppermint candy cane topping before the marshmallow sets if you want to keep this for a few days - add the candy cane once fully set.
Unless you don't mind having very, very sticky fingers.

The scary ingredient, for me, was the gelatine:
 Look how scary it is.

So, here is what I did, how it went and how it ended up.  
Firstly, the gelatine.  Pour 7g of gelatine powder into 50ml of cold water in a bowl and set aside [don't worry about the gelatine, it just keeps itself to itself for most of the process].
Now, add 225g of caster sugar to 85ml of cold water in a pan.
Bring to the boil, stirring and then simmer for around 15-20 minutes, continuing to stir.  This is the part all the recipes warn about and note the caution that must be taken.  I protected myself as much as I could and used a fairly deep saucepan so that there could be no chance of spitting, but this actually was nowhere near as worrying as I was prepared for.  The mixture must reach a temperature of around 115 degrees C.
I must confess, I don't have a thermometer to test this.  What I did have was a meat thermometer, which went to 100 degrees C, which I used as my guide.  One for the Christmas list maybe?

So, largely down to guess, after 20 minutes of simmering, I was ready to add my sugar syrup mixture and gelatine together.  I decided to use a hand whisk for this process.  Recipes advise the lowest, slowest setting and I felt my hand whisk was too fast and was happy not to have the washing up from using the kitchen mixer!
By now, the gelatine will look something like this:
Yum.  Whisk the gelatine up and then carefully add, in small quantities, the sugar syrup to the gelatine. Whisk continually and as more sugar is added, you will feel the mixture thicken and see it turn white:

You need to continue mixing with the whisk for around 15 minutes after all the syrup has been added.  Now add 1tsp of vanilla essence [or if you are not keen on the candy cane topping but still want the flavour, try peppermint flavouring instead].  As its a fairly slow mix, you don't need to worry too much about your arm becoming too tired [always my primary concern - not too much physical effort!]  What I found useful in this whole process, was that the feel of the mixture lets you know when it is ready.  The mixture resembled 'Fluff' and reached a stage after 15 minutes where I knew it was starting to set and needed to be poured into its mould.

Line your mould with baking paper [to help it stick to the mould, line the bottom with a little oil or butter] and dust with a mixture of cornflour [25g] and icing sugar [25g]:
[The mould you use depends entirely on the size/depth that you want your marshmallow/s to be.  I made these marshmallows for putting in hot chocolate, so chose a fairly shallow dish].
I wanted a layer of white then pink marshmallow, so added my colouring once the mixture was in the dish.  Adding a drop of colouring to the centre, I moved the colour around the mixture with a fork...
 [If you are after a marble effect, you wont achieve this once you have poured the marshmallow mixture into the pan/tin/dish.  It will really start to set.  Therefore, add the drop of colouring to the bowl, swirl with a spoon and then pour into your tin.  Alternatively, if you want a complete colour, add in during your final stage of mixing.  Of course, you can just leave it white!].
...and then I added the candy cane topping:

Note: This is what I may change for the future.  I have a very, very sweet tooth, however; adding the candy cane topping at this stage, to a wet mixture, causes the small pieces of candy cane to melt and create a syrupy top layer.  If the people you will share this with aren't quite so keen, or you want the marshmallow to keep, I would recommend not adding this topping at this stage, but after the marshmallow has set.  Instead, dust the top with more of the corn flour and icing sugar mixture.

The marshmallow now needs to be covered in cling film, set aside somewhere cool and left [if you are able, overnight] for around 3-4 hours.  If you have already added the candy cane, the top will turn to a sheen finish, if not, the marshmallow will be matt and you will be able to feel if it is ready or not:

Line a board or table top with a dusting of the corn flour and icing sugar mixture and transfer your marshmallow:
The marshmallow is easy to work with [but the peppermint topping does make it a little sticky, but everything just bounces in to shape] and you could either cut the marshmallow into strips or use cookie cutters to create shapes.  I made fairly thin marshmallow [around 2cm thick] and cut into squares and then coated the sides with the corn flour and icing sugar mixture:
[if you haven't added the candy cane topping before the setting stage, you could add a topping now, then coat fully in the remainder of the corn flour and icing sugar mixture, dusting off to finish]

...perfect for hot chocolate!
[This made around 20 2cm thick 4cmx4cm squares of marshmallow]

So, there we go.  An experiment that worked out OK, if a little sticky.  If i had to do it all again, I would leave the marshmallow to set on its own, without a topping and then add the candy cane [or any other topping - chocolate, nuts etc] until after it had set completely.  However; I am tempted to try a layer of marshmallow, candy cane then another layer of marshmallow - but I'll leave that experiment for another time and let you know how it goes then!  Tomorrow, I have these:
see you then x
Want more Christmas treat ideas, including our Pudding teacakes, marshmallow pops, meringues and more?  Come this way.

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