Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows

Hello, hello! Today's edition of the Threadbare Bakery finds us in the uncertain world of CANDY MAKING.

If you follow my blog much you will know that I have tried making caramel and failed. I have tried making divinity and failed. If it involves heating sugar and water to a certain temperature, if precision is of the essence, I generally don't fare so well. Well... NOT ANYMORE. Thanks to Favorite's cousin and his lovely woman, we have acquired, as a wedding present, an infrared pyrometer! This is a fancy word for laser thermometer. It looks like a tiny version of a police speed detector and works similarly; point and shoot. However instead of reading back the speed of its target it shows you the temperature. Now it is exceedingly fun to take temperature readings of everything and everyone around you, but where it shines, as far as usefulness is concerned, is in the kitchen. Favorite has used it numerous times when making beer to ensure his mash or his wort are at the proper temperature. It takes temperature instantaneously, and accurately so when I decided to venture into candy making again, I had it ready to go.

I know it is not autumn, traditional pumpkin season, but I simply couldn't wait any longer to try the recipe I had found for Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows and here's why:Ha HA! Don't they simply look MARVELOUS? Yes, yes, they do, and they smell and taste lovely as well. I have to admit that I was certainly nervous, having the record with candy making that I do, but these were actually easy! You mix the pumpkin, cold water, and gelatin together in one bowl, then you begin heating your mixture of water, sugar, and corn syrup. Just for experiments' sake I put the standard candy thermometer I have in the sugary liquid to see how far off it was. The thermometer lagged FAR behind my laser gun, showing me a little over 225 when I finally took it off the heat with the laser telling me it was (in various spots) between 249 and 257, approximately hard ball. I then plopped the pumpkin mix gently into the syrup, hoping that the sugar wouldn't harden from the cold semi-solid, and once I had given it a few stirs to break up the chunks, poured the entire saucepan full into my kitchen aid, put my splashguard in position, and threw the switch to 11 (re. high). I wondered, had the temperature gradients in the liquid affected the sugary structure? Had I cooked it too long? Not long enough? Well my kitchen aid did its thing, for about 9 minutes and it had finally started looking lighter, fluffier, more opaque, and I was getting excited. I had premixed my spices and started sprinkling them in at the 9 minutes mark. The mix whipped for a minute more and then I removed the splashguard completely to reveal... MARSHMALLOW!!!

I poured the liquid mallow into lightly greased jelly roll pan praying I would later be able to get it out. Then it had to set for at least 4 hours with a recommended set time of overnight. I controlled myself and managed the overnight, but was thrilled when I went to clean my bowl and whisk attachment and found that the substance that had been so liquidy just moments before had already turned lightly elastic, foamy, and chewy.

Finally it came time to turn out the sweet mass. I threw together the powdered sugar and cornstarch lightly dusted the exposed surface, and flipped the pan over onto some parchment. I picked up the pan to disover the mallow had not com out, but, still overturned, I stuck a knife in the corner to begin prying the goo away and then it all seemed to com out at once. Victory! Once layed out I used a lightly oiled knife to cut the marshmallow into squares and tossed them in the cornstarch mix a few at a time giving them a light coating before storing them in some tupperware. Of course I tried one, so did Favorite, and they were delightful! They are not as chewy as store marshmallows. They are more tendy, foamy and chewy, but with a little less toothiness. And these of course were fragrant with spices and with a glorious orange color. There are only two things I would do differenly, were I to make marshmallows again (and oh, I will). One is I would try making them when the weather is a littles less humid because my cornstarch mixture seems to keep sucking up he moisure in the air causing the marshmallows to stick to each other more than is desireable. The other is that I would like to try making them in a lasagna pan so that I might get a thicker layer. I would like it very much to have the finished guys be a little more cuboid. Although, the thin sheet is probabl better for cutting more complicated shapes (I punched out a few little stars myself, hehe).

So go! Get accurate kitchen equipment and make candy! I know I will be venturing more into the candy realm know that I feel more secure in my ability to gauge sugar temperatures.

1 comment:

  1. That pyrometer sounds awesome! Glad it helped you to make these delicious looking marshmallows!