Friday, December 16, 2011

Cinnamon Marshmallows

Last year it seemed like all of a sudden I started to need hostess and thank-you gifts around the holidays.  I don't know what changed (maybe it's another step toward actually feeling like a grown-up?), but I remember several last-minute trips to the craft store for festive packaging for holiday cookies, vowing to plan better this year.  And so when I made my holiday baking list, I added homemade hot cocoa mix and marshmallows to the list, to be packed up together and handed out as needed.

I'd made these marshmallows before for s'mores pops, and wanted to make them a little more obviously holiday-appropriate.  Adding some cinnamon extract, a swirl of red, and cutting some of them out in fun shapes like trees, candy canes and stars made these nicely festive.  With some hot cocoa mix (homemade or storebought), a batch of these is the perfect thing to have on hand for your neighbor, delivery guy, or anyone that could use some holiday cheer.

Cinnamon Marshmallows
adapted from Alton Brown via Beantown Baker

What's in them:

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp cinnamon extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
Nonstick spray
Red food coloring

How to make them:

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment ready to go.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F (soft ball temp, if you're a regular candy maker), approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. (Be very careful to not let the the syrup get wrapped up and around the mixer gears, unless you want it to be hard candy-coated.  Don't ask how I know this, just trust me.)

Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and cinnamon extracts during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula (or fingers) for spreading evenly into the pan. If you want colorful swirls, drop 5-10 drops of food coloring onto the marshmallows as desired.  Drag a toothpick or wooden skewer through the drops, creating swirls. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a knife dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture, or cut out shapes using cookie cutters dusted with the mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

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