So here we are in December. Who'd have thought it would come around so quickly! It kind of snuck up on us this year. We're always one of the first to put up our Christmas tree and decorations although it seems like this year everyone's ahead of the game and had them up last weekend. But we always wait until December, so this weekend is going to be jam-packed with Christmas excitement, parties, movies and yummy festive treats :)
I have been holding on to Gingerbread Marshmallows for a good few months now. I love marshmallows, love making them and especially eating them. The home-made ones are always that extra bit squidgier inside, smoother and silkier. They are simply delicious.
I started off with a few different recipes and ended up being captivated by these yummy ones from Joy The Baker, slightly mesmerised by the chocolate and crushed gingerbread biscuits adorning them. I wasn't sure I was going to go that far (but I did) and wanted to try making little gingerbread men out of them (which I did); I then got completely carried away and decided to make little gingerbread s'mores out of them (definitely glad I did). So much fun and such a sticky mess!
So making them also gave me a fantastic workout as I ran out of glucose half-way through and then had to walk the entire local area looking for more, only to find out that all the local shops have stopped selling it. You can imagine my delight at this! But then I came home, determined to find some more in my cupboard (you know that feeling when you know something you've lost is just lurking that little bit farther into the cupboard) and lo and behold, I found one last tube. A bittersweet moment - but at least I smashed my step count for the day!
So marshmallows are super simple to make. The only downside to them is that when you make them yourself, you realise that they're not at all, even the tinsiest bit, healthy for you. But just close your eyes and will those thoughts out of your mind for the next 20 minutes!
It's important to prepare the baking tin. I use a 8 inch square tin and this makes quite thick marshmallows which are generally deeper than regular cutters - so if you want to cut them into shapes you might want to choose a bigger tin or split the marshmallows into two tins. Usually I line the tin and then lightly grease the lined paper before adding the marshmallow. Joy The Baker's recipe calls for coating the tin with oil and then a very generous layer of icing sugar, thickly applied so the sides and bottom look solid white. The marshmallow did come out fairly easily but I did have to pry the sides away which made them a little dented.
To make the marshmallow, you first put a half cup of water in a stand mixer and sprinkle the powdered gelatin on the top, leaving it for 10 minutes. When it's ready it will be a sort of yellowy sticky consistency. Meanwhile mix the caster sugar, glucose and salt in a saucepan and heat it on a medium heat until it melts. Give it a little stir. Then once the sugar is melted, turn up the heat to medium-high and leave without stirring until your thermometer reaches 240 degrees. Do keep a close eye on it and don't wander away from the stove! When the temperature is reached, turn the stand mixer onto low speed and then slowly add the sugar syrup in a long drizzle. You want to pour it in a stream somewhere between the side of the bowl and the whisk, more towards the side of the bowl if in any doubt as you must be careful the sugar doesn't hit the whisk and splatter over you - it's very hot! As you're pouring this in, gradually turn up the speed until all the sugar has been added and the mixer is working at full speed. Keep whisking for 10 minutes until the mixture has turned into a lovely white, billowy marshmallow. It looks like gooey clouds.This is the time to add your spices and vanilla. You can add whatever you like; I might be inclined to put a little less cloves in next time as that was a very prominent flavour in mine. Mix for another few minutes and then pour the marshmallow into the tin to set. If you need to smooth the surface, use a wet spatula.
After the marshmallow has set (ideally overnight) you can then decide how you want to present it. When you cut it up, either use a sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water and if you're using a cookie cutter, again pop this into hot water. Try not to get too much water all over your marshmallow as it will turn into a squidgy mess (although the upside of this is that you're compelled to eat all the messy bits then and there!)
I tried three ways: cut into regular blocks; cut into blocks and then dipped into melted chocolate and crumbled gingerbread biscuits (this was Joy The Baker's way of doing it); and then cut into little men and turned into Gingerbread Men S'mores. For the S'mores, I got a biscuit (I used a Graham's cracker but if you don't have access to these you could use, say, a gingernut biscuit istead) and heated it in the microwave for around 30 seconds - it turns soft and then working fast, you can cut it into your desired shape using a cookie cutter. So I cut my biscuit into a little man, spread him with a little dulce de leche, popped a marshmallow man on top, dipped him in chocolate and then covered him with sprinkles. Such fun! This is really your opportunity to be completely creative and make whatever you fancy.
Marshmallows are fun. Home-made ones are definitely the best. And the beauty is that there are so many different flavours with which you can experiment.
Enjoy discovering your own favourite :)
Gingerbread Marshmallows (from Joy The Baker's Bonkers Awesome Gingerbread Spiced Marshmallows)
- 1 CUP COLD WATER, SPLIT INTO 2 x 1/2 cups
- 14G POWDERED GELATIN
- 415G CASTER SUGAR
- 270G GLUCOSE
- 1/4 TSP SALT
- 2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 1/2 TSP GROUND CINNAMON
- 1/2 TSP GROUND GINGER
- 1/4 TSP GROUND NUTMEG
- PINCH OF GROUND CLOVES
- VEGETABLE OIL TO COAT YOUR TIN
- ICING SUGAR TO COAT YOUR TIN
- Prepare your tin by coating it with vegetable oil and then cover that with icing sugar - you're looking for a thick coating so that the icing sugar looks solid white (alternatively you could line your baking tin with some greaseproof paper, lightly oiled on the inside)
- Pour 1/2 cup of water into your stand mixer and then sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the top
- Leave to stand for 10 mins
- In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, glucose, salt and other 1/2 cup of water and heat over a medium heat until it boils giving it a mix to make sure the ingredients are dissolved
- Then using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture to 240 degrees without stirring it
- When the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, turn the stand mixer onto a low speed and start to pour it in a slow, steady stream into the gelatin (you're starting on a low speed so the hot mixture doesn't spatter everywhere and burn you)
- Gradually increase the speed of the mixer as you're pouring in the sugar until you're at high speed and all the sugar has been added
- Continue beating at this speed for around 10 mins until the mixture has more than doubled in size and looks like fluffy white marshmallows
- Add the vanilla extract and the spices and mix for a further 3 minutes
- Gently pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface if required with a wet spatula
- Leave to set for at least 3 hours or overnight
- When you come to cut up the marshmallow, use a hot wet knife or use a hot wet cutter to cut it into shapes
- Decorate your marshmallows as you like (some ideas are above) or enjoy them naked, just as they are :)