Sunday, May 25, 2014

Easy Homemade Almond Marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows are actually quite easy to make but I have to warn you that they will spoil you for store-bought marshmallows forever, so wonderful are they. 

I have a few things on my bucket list that I want to make some day. Real puff pastry, ice cream, my friend Ishita’s mustard fish, marshmallows and Jamie Oliver’s wine-braised chicken with grapes, just to name a few. My friend Jenni Field, of Pastry Chef Online, dreamed up an ice cream challenge that would take care of two of those in one fell swoop. She wanted to take her Ice Cream Tuesdays to another level by adding marshmallow in some form and invited a group of us to join her. I could have taken the easy way out and used store bought but I figured it was time to step up and do the marshmallows myself.

Store bought marshmallows are light morsels best set aflame and eaten in front of a campfire, with sticky fingers and ash. These homemade ones are their distant ethereal cousin, the one that shows up at the wedding and makes the groom reconsider his commitment to the bride. The groomsmen fall all over themselves to seat her and the bridesmaids all want to be her. Elderly relatives all nudge each other and remark with awe, how she has grown and blossomed since they last saw her as a gangly, awkward preteen at the family reunion years ago! But you know what? She’s sweet and unassuming, not brash or overbearing, a genuinely nice person that everyone can’t help but like. May I introduce my almond marshmallows? I think you are going to like them.

4 1/2 oz or 125g whole raw almonds
2 tablespoons powdered gelatin
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon or 133ml cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups 0r 340g sugar
1 cup or 240ml corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 cup or 125g powdered sugar
1 cup or 135g cornstarch

Toast your almonds in a small heavy skillet over a medium low flame. Toss or stir the nuts frequently to prevent scorching. The almonds are properly toasted when they are light brown and smell wonderfully nutty. Set aside to cool for a few minutes and then pulse in a food processor until you have small toasted almond crumbs.

Dissolve your gelatin in the cold water in the bowl of your stand mixer or another mixing bowl if using a hand held mixer.

(If your gelatin instructions say to dissolve in hot water, like mine do, heat three of tablespoons of the water and dissolve the gelatin in that. Allow to cool and then gradually add the cold water to your gelatin mixture, stirring continually so it doesn’t lump up on you, then put the gelatin mixture in your mixing bowl and continue as follows.)

My gelatin was made in New Zealand. I have no idea why it is brown but when dissolved, it turned clear. Whew.

Add the salt and almond extract to the mixing bowl with the water and gelatin. Stir well.

Meanwhile, mix your powdered sugar with your cornstarch and set aside.

Spray a half-sheet pan with non-stick spray. Line the pan with cling film, making sure it goes up the sides of the pan as well. Make sure you don’t have any bubbles under the cling film. You want the cling film stuck tight all over the pan.

Now spray the cling film with more non-stick spray and put it on thick. Use a sifter or strainer to cover the whole pan with a good layer of the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture.

Sprinkle half of the ground almonds over the cornstarch/sugar mixture. Set the pan aside.

In a medium sized heavy bottomed pot, Stir your sugar and corn syrup with about a tablespoon and a half of water and bring to a low boil. Put the lid on and cook for two or three minutes more. Remove the lid and put your candy thermometer in the liquid. Heat till 244°F or 118°C.

When your syrup reaches temperature, pour it carefully down the inside of your mixing bowl.

If you are using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment or beat on medium for a few minutes.

That's steam, people!

Once it’s all mixed together, turn the knob to high and beat until the mixture triples in volume. This is such fun to watch, as the clear liquid turns to fluffy white stuff.

Use non-stick spray to coat a rubber spatula and use it to scrape the beautiful sticky white stuff into your prepared pan.

Spread the marshmallow cream evenly around the pan, using more spray on your spatula whenever necessary.

Now spray the top of your marshmallow cream liberally.

Sprinkle on the rest of your toasted almond crumbs.  Now use your sifter or strainer again to cover the top of the marshmallow cream with a thick layer of the powdered sugar/ cornstarch mixture. No shiny marshmallow should peek out.  Put it on THICK! Don't be shy.

Set aside, uncovered, for several hours in a cool dry place to set.

When the marshmallow feels spongy yet firm, cut it into squares with a greased knife and coat all the sides in more powdered sugar/cornstarch to stop the pieces from sticking together.

A little tip: After you have cut a few slices and removed them to a big bowl with powdered sugar/cornstarch, you can cut the following slices and roll them over and over on the cling film, which will coat the long cut sides. Since you put a healthy layer of that stuff in the pan, right? Then you just have to coat the short sides as you cut the long pieces into squares.

Jenni was right. These marshmallows are like a whole different thing, compared to store-bought marshmallows. They are soooo good. And soft and fluffy and nutty and divine. She's made a wonderful video of her making marshmallows live that you should watch too.

Check back this Tuesday when I’ll be putting some of them in homemade no-churn (no ice cream machine needed!) coffee Amaretto ice cream, along with some candied almonds.

But don’t worry, this makes plenty enough marshmallows just to eat straight.


If it just happens to be your helper's seventh birthday when you are making these, share a couple with him.

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