There are not many foods that cross seasonal lines with ease and fluidity. The time for stone fruits is fleeting. Tomatoes are best if eaten when sun-kissed by the warmest summer temperatures. Asparagus is just about perfect when pulled from the earth during the damp days of spring. We feast on the finest pears and apples in the fall around here.
But what food brazenly leaps across the seasonal barriers without skipping a beat?
I mean it.
Although you might not put these pillowy chunks of goodness into your shopping cart as you prepare for your camping trip, you will certainly pick them up later when you hit the small store on the outskirts of the national park. You know what I’m talking about, right? You breeze in there for a bundle of firewood and realize you forgot to pick up the marshmallows. Surely no summer camping trip is complete without them. After all, you wouldn’t want to disappoint the kids.
Please also consider for a moment those gooey bits that form a blanket over your mother’s famous Thanksgiving yams. These are the yams you feast on for days. These are the yams you love and tried in vane to replicate for the first Thanksgiving meal you attempted after college. These yams would be ordinary orange tubers without their fine marshmallow dressing.
And let’s not forget the ambrosia salad that is essential to any potluck picnic or company party. You know this salad well. It’s the one for which you feign disdain. You scoff. It’s the salad you secretly love to eat, but you plop only a small spoonful on your plate lest anyone think you don’t know good food from bad.
Call me crazy, but marshmallows, the staple of my college diet along with diet coke, are one of the things I love most in this world. And in these dark and damp days of early winter, I crave hot chocolate smothered in a healthy coating of melted marshmallows. It is just about the best thing. Last winter during the final days of my pregnancy when my stomach was enormous and real estate was tight, this was my meal of choice.
Considering this long-standing love affair with marshmallows, it is actually quite surprising I didn’t attempt to make them from scratch far sooner. I feel so silly because these marshmallows were really a joy to make. The ingredients are few. The recipe is simple. It’s so breezy, in fact, I was able to crank out this batch of white magic goodness as Maeve took an afternoon nap. Getting anything accomplished in that 40 minute window is nothing short of miraculous and truly a testament to the simplicity of this recipe.
The marshmallows were delicious. The vanilla flavor was subtle, but pleasantly sweet. The texture was soft and fluffy. And, although working with the uncoated taffy was a bit sticky, the dusting of fine powdered sugar made these little gems easy to handle. I do think they are quite possibly the perfect gift. Maybe even coated with chocolate or roasted coconut? There are no rules or limits with marshmallows. Seasonal eating be damned!
Vegetable oil, for brushing
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin (3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with oil. Line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Brush parchment with oil; set aside.
Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 9 minutes.
Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer; sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.
Attach bowl with gelatin to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with an offset spatula. Set aside, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours. When firm, cut into one inch squares. Pour the powdered sugar onto a plate and dip individual marshmallows into the powdered sugar to coat.
Source: Martha Stewart