Friday, 23 December 2011

Snowflake marshmallows

As you may have gathered by now I love Christmas, especially the time spent with family and friends. I have group of friends who I've been close to since I was at school and every year since we were 12 we've gone out for Christmas dinner. People have come and gone over the years, but tradition has remained. We don't all buy presents for each other, we do a secret Santa instead, but every year I make a little something. This year I decided I wanted to have a go at marshmallows as I've never made them before and I'd bought some snowflake cookie cutters which I thought would make good snowflakes marshmallows!

The hardest part was finding the ingredients. Liquid glucose can allegedly be bought from 'all good chemists' but even in London it took me about 5 chemists to track it down. One tried to fob me off with something that cost £11+ (it should be more like £1) and another with Lucozade (because that's just the same). And although leaf gelatine is now more popular they didn't have any in my sainsbury's so I had to go to waitrose. You also need a sugar thermometer and electric stand mixer or whisk.

You start by soaking 9 leaves of gelatine in 140ml of water.

Whilst it's soaking you boil the 450g sugar, 200ml water and 1 tbsp of liquid glucose in a heavy based pan until it reaches 127C keep an eye on it and any children around as it is very hot and can also go beyond the temperature very quickly and potentially burn.

Whilst the sugar is turning into a lovely syrup put 2 large egg whites in your stand mixer and whisk until they form soft peaks (as always make sure you get no yolk in the egg whites and the bowl is scrupulously clean otherwise they won't whisk up).

When the sugar reaches 127C carefully slide in the gelatine and water. It will bubble and potentially spit. 127C is very hot and syrup sticks so careful is the important word here!

Now turn the mixer down to a low speed and slowly and carefully pour the syrup onto the egg whites trying to hit the 'sweet spot', so that the syrup is landing in the little dip just in front of the whisk. When all of the syrup is a 1tbsp of vanilla extract (you could also add food colouring at this stage but I've never seen coloured snowflakes so I left it white) and turn up the speed slightly. At this point the mixture will be quite runny but if you whisk for 5-10 mins as the bowl cools the mixture will thicken and become lovely and fluffy and glossy.

Once you think it looks amazing pour it into a tin which has been greased with a slick of flavourless oil and then drenched in cornflour and icing sugar and try and get the top fairly flat. The recipe said to use a tin 30cm x 20cm but for snowflakes this left the marshmallows too thick so I used another smaller tin as well, probably about 20cm x 15cm and this was perfect.

Leave to set for at least an hour.

I found it too sticky to turn out of the tin so I actually cut the snowflakes directl out of the tin with my cutter. I found I had to be almost rough with the mixture and use my fingers to prise it from the tin. Once they are out dust them in a mixture of corn flour and icing sugar to stop them sticking. You can also dust all of the off cuts and keep them for you!

Next time I am wondering about using the magic liner or even cling film (greased and drenched still). I got there in the end though and popped them into lakeland's clear gift bags, tied with a little present ribbon and a gift tag/Christmas decoration dangling.

I also made a couple of extra bags for stockings.

Recipe taken from James Martin on the BBC website. He put a layer of raspberries in the middle which sounds very yummy.


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