Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Artisan Marshmallows

Marshmallow candy originated in ancient Egypt. Until the mid 1800's it was a honey candy that was flavored and thickened with Marsh-Mallow plant sap. Althaea officinalis (Marshmallow, Marsh Mallow, or Common Marshmallow) is a species native to Africa, which is used as a medicinal and ornamental plant. It grows in salt marshes, in damp meadows, by the sides of ditches, by the sea and on the banks of tidal rivers. Today marshmallows are a mixture of corn syrup or sugar, gelatin, gum arabic and flavoring.

Nineteenth century doctors extracted juice from the marsh mallow plant's roots and cooked it with egg whites and sugar, then whipped the mixture into a foamy meringue that later hardened, creating a medicinal candy used to soothe children's sore throats.

The candy makers needed to find a new, faster way of making marshmallows. As a result, the "starch mogul" system was developed in the late 1800s. Rather than making marshmallows by hand, the new system let candy makers create marshmallows in molds made of modified cornstarch (like jelly beans, gummies and candy corn are made today). At about the same time, mallow root was replaced by gelatin, providing marshmallows with their "stable" form.

In 1948, Alex Doumak, a marshmallow manufacturer, began experimenting with different methods of marshmallow making. Doumak was looking for ways to speed up production and discovered the "extrusion process", which revolutionized marshmallow production. Now, marshmallows can be made by piping the fluffy mixture through long tubes and cutting its tubular shape into equal pieces.

In 2007 the marshmallow industry was worth about $132 million and was growing at nearly 7 ½ % over 2006 as the gourmet or artisan marshmallow dessert trend started cranking. Pastry Chef's shunning the mass produced marshmallow were handcrafting upscale, unique and delicious versions of the old favorite.

Check out the basic recipe below or try a pork-ified Bacon Pistachio Marshmallows

Gourmet Marshmallows
 2 cups Monarch® granulated sugar #4395612
 1 tbsp Monarch® light corn syrup #1373935
 1.5 cups water, separated
 4 tbsp unflavored gelatin #9223439
 1 tbsp Monarch® vanilla extract #761379
 2 egg Glenview Farms® egg whites #823005
 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar, for dusting #3010758
 1/3 cup Monarch® cornstarch, for dusting #761981

1. Combine the cornstarch and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Prepare a 9x13 pan by spraying it with nonstick cooking spray, and sprinkle a generous
dusting of the sugar/starch mixture over the entire pan. Set the pan aside while you prepare the marshmallow, and save the sugar/starch mixture
for later use.
2. Combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and ¾ cup water in a large pot over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, then
stop stirring and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Continue boiling until mixture reaches 260 degrees (hard-ball stage).
3. While the sugar syrup cooks, prepare the gelatin mixture. In a small saucepan, combine 3/4 cup water and the vanilla extract. Sprinkle the gelatin
over the top and stir briefly. Let the gelatin sit for 5 minutes, until it is completely absorbed by the liquid. Set the pan over low heat and stir constantly til the mixture is liquid.
4. Place the room temperature egg whites in the clean bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Once the sugar syrup nears 245
degrees, begin to beat the egg whites. Beat them until they hold firm peaks, but do not overbeat or they will be crumbly. If the egg whites are ready
before the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature, stop the mixer until the sugar syrup is ready.
5. Whisk the gelatin mixture into the sugar syrup. This mixture now needs to be poured into the egg whites. With the mixer running on low, carefully
pour the hot syrup in a thin stream into the egg whites. Once all of the sugar syrup is poured, turn the mixer to medium-high. Continue to beat the
marshmallow in the mixer until it is thick enough to hold its shape and is opaque. Depending on your mixer, this will take about 5-10 minutes.
6. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top flat with an offset spatula. Let the marshmallow sit at room temperature
for several hours or overnight to fully set the marshmallow.
7. Once the marshmallow has set, dust your workstation with a generous layer of the sugar/starch mixture you used to prepare the pan. Lift the
marshmallow from the pan using the foil as handles, and flip it facedown on the prepared surface. Peel the foil off the top of the marshmallow, and
dust the top of the candy with more sugar/starch.
8. Spray a large, sharp chef's knife with nonstick cooking spray. Cut the marshmallow block into small 1" squares, or whatever size marshmallows
you desire. Dredge the cut edges of the marshmallows in the sugar/starch mixture so that they are not sticky.

Unique Marshmallow Flavor Ideas
Make your marshmallows the center of attention by adding gourmet ingredients & toppings, both savory & sweet.

Here are some suggestions:
Chocolate Caramel
Basil Strawberry
Peanut Butter
Toasted Coconut

Don't have time to make your own marshmallows? Contact Artisan Marshmallows. from Livermore CA, to see about shipping. This mother of twin girls began making marshmallows for fun and began selling them in 2003.

This are not in anyway to be confuse with what is offered as a Mallo Burger.

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