Saturday, December 22, 2012

Peppermint Marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows... Where have they been all my life??  Oh my goodness, these things are incredible.  I saw them recently on someone's blog, and decided to make them a last minute addition to my Christmas gifts.  These are quite minty (which I love, but my husband's not a mint fan), but you could omit the peppermint extract and make a regular version.

These don't require any special equipment, and the only ingredient probably don't already have on hand is the unflavored gelatin.  The kids and I just devoured a couple marshmallows a piece in hot chocolate (them) and coffee (me).  Now that I know what marshmallows are supposed to taste like... the ones in the store seem even more pitiful than ever!

The blog where I found these (here) adapted the recipe from The America's Test Kitchen D.I.Y. Cookbook.  So that's the original source, I'm just here to tell you how yummy they are! :)  Oh, and one last thing- when I made these, I made a half batch in an 8x8 pan.  I ended up with 64 one-inch marshmallows.  That was plenty for what I needed, but feel free to make the whole batch if that's what you're looking for!

Peppermint Marshmallows
Printable version here

⅔ cup powdered sugar
⅓ cup cornstarch
1 cup cold water, divided
2½ tablespoons unflavored gelatin
⅔ cup light corn syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon peppermint extract

1. Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil, enough so that excess foil hangs over the sides of the pan. Spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

3. Pour ½ cup of the cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let stand until the gelatin becomes very firm, about 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, combine the remaining water and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Pour the sugar into the center of the saucepan. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, gently swirling the pan, until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, about 6 to 8 minutes.

5. Turn the mixer on low speed and carefully pour the hot syrup mixture into the gelatin mixture, avoiding the side of the bowl as much as possible. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip until the mixture is very thick and stiff, 10 to 12 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed (my half batch was ready in 8 minutes). Add the vanilla and peppermint extract and mix until incorporated, about 15 seconds.

6. Working quickly, scrape the mixture into the prepared pan using a spatula that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Smooth the top into an even layer. (To get it smooth, I sprayed my hands with Pam & pressed on the mixture.) Sift 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar mixture over the pan. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature.

7. The next day, turn the marshmallow slab out onto a cutting board and peel off the foil. Sift 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar mixture over the slab. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, cut into 1-inch strips one way, and then across the other way for square marshmallows. You could also use round cutters to cut them out as well.

8. Place the remaining powdered sugar mixture in a large ziploc bag. Working with 3 or 4 marshmallows at a time, toss the marshmallows in the bag with the powdered sugar mixture, then toss in a fine-mesh strainer to remove any excess powder. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container or bag for up to 2 weeks.

Why I love it? They aren't that difficult (just a bit messy), are pretty cheap, make a neat gift, but most of all they are DELICIOUS!  Seriously, I was licking the spatula, it was so good!  The texture is unlike anything I've ever made- it's so light, smooth, creamy, and just exactly what a marshmallow should be!  It melted perfectly in our hot drinks, too!

Monday, December 3, 2012

DIY Mixing Bowl Covers

 A few days ago, a friend of mine shared this idea on Pinterest.  I knew instantly that I would have to make one!  Basically, it's a fabric mixing bowl cover with elastic around the bottom.  I LOVE this idea for covering a bowl when bread dough is rising!  Other methods all have their flaws- either they don't stay on, they create more trash, etc.  But this one stays on, keeps the bowl covered but not airtight (good for rising dough), and is washable!

Here is the website where I got most of the directions from:

I will try to explain how I made it.  Granted, I am not a very experienced seamstress, so take my directions for what they're worth! :)

  • 12-inch diameter piece of prewashed fabric*
  • Extra wide double fold bias tape
  • 1/4" wide elastic
(The cupcake fabric is waterproof on the back; I found it at JoAnn's in the cloth diaper fabric section. It doesn't need to be prewashed.)

  • Cut your fabric into the desired size.  (I traced the top of my mixing bowl, and added about 1 1/2 inches around all sides. For my KitchenAid bowl, this comes out to a 12 inch diameter circle.)
  • Pin the bias tape along the edges of your fabric.
  • Sew, trying to keep the stitches as close to the open edge (not the folded edge) of the bias tape.  This will ensure that the pocket is as big as possible for the elastic. Leave a 1 inch gap in your stitches so you can feed the elastic through.
  • Attach a safety pin to the elastic, about 1/4" from the end. Feed this through the pocket you just made. ((This was the part I struggled with the most. Both times, the safety pin fell off the elastic before I was done feeding it through.  If this happens, you can undo some of the stitches and retrieve the safety pin, re-pin it, and continue feeding it through.))
  • Sew the 2 ends of the elastic by hand, then sew with your machine.  You want them well attached!
  • Sew closed the opening(s) in the bias tape, and the place where the 2 ends of the bias tape overlap.

Last but not least, here's a picture of another one I made.  I made it just using scraps of fabric I had, not even realizing until I was done that it's the same colors as my kitchen.  I think I'll leave this one on my bowl all the time to keep dust out of it!  Also, do you notice the cutie who wanted to be in the picture, too? :)