Besides the excitement there, I also had to get up early this morning, getting myself and the kitchen covered in dust - edible dust - while cutting the the treats before Jeff drove into work. For this week's Wednesday Treat Day, I made use once again of those berries we picked (I used the ones I placed in the freezer the day we picked them) and prepared these homemade Strawberry Marshmallows!
If you have never had a homemade marshmallow before, I implore you to give them a try because they are worlds better than those packaged ones you find in the market. The whole process may scare some people off because you need to haul out a candy thermometer and work with molten sugar, but it is not nearly as scary as you might think!
I used our frozen whole berries, thawed, to make the strawberry purée because I find that they whiz up a bit smoother than using a fresh berry. We didn't add anything to the strawberries for the purée - it is pure and unadulterated sweet summer flavor! Because I wanted them to be more rustic and "hand-made", I did not strain the seeds out and I'm glad I didn't. They were not obtrusive at all and I loved how they speckled the marshmallows - however, if you don't want them, feel free to pour the purée through a fine sieve.
To create the hot syrup to sweeten these marshmallows, you'll need to boil sugar, water and light corn syrup until it reaches the soft-ball stage (I took mine to 240 degrees). To make sure no sugar crystals form on the side of the pan, I like to cover this mixture while it comes to a boil - the cover will catch the evaporation and lets the water drip back down the sides of the pan to wash anything that may have splashed up back into the sugar-y mix. Once it reaches the boiling point though, make sure to remove its cover and leave it be until it comes up to temperature.
You will want to pour this hot mixture slowly down the side of your mixing bowl, with the whisk attachment running on medium speed, taking care that the syrup doesn't hit the whisk as it may fling it out of the bowl. As soon as the syrup is all in, just throw the speed up to high and let 'er rip until the marshmallow mixture is thick and stiff, yet still pourable. It is very sticky, so just do your best to work with oiled spatulas to help you transfer and spread the marshmallows into the pan. Lots of recipes call for using confectioners' sugar for dusting the marshmallows to remove that stickiness, but we used an equal combination of potato starch and confectioners' sugar. Potato starch is neutral in flavor and doesn't add extra sweetness like the confectioners' sugar does. You could also use cornstarch, but it is a little heavier and not as clean of flavor. I've also read about people using rice flour and it working well, but I've never tried it myself.
Once you get it all into the pan, dust the top with your confectioners' sugar mixture and just set it aside for at least 6 to 8 hours to give them a chance to firm up. This is why I couldn't post about them yesterday! Don't worry about covering them as you do want them to dry out a little as they sit. If you use a knife to cut these tall gems, use a thin-bladed one - I recommend a large pizza wheel though as it makes quick work. Just be sure to lightly coat whatever tool you use with a little oil to keep the sticking under control. Once they are cut, you'll need to dust those clean edges with the confectioners' sugar mixture one last time and that's all there is to it!
With their light pink hue, they are bouncy, soft, and fluffy cubes that melt like butter as they sit on your tongue - the essence of love in the form of marshmallow! I didn't get an automatic strawberry wallop as I took my first squishy nibble, but the flavor slowly worked its way into my mouth as they dissolved, releasing a natural berry spirit that is leaps and bounds better than any artificial combination. I will most certainly be trying this recipe again using different fruit purées like raspberry, blackberry or maybe even blueberry if we get our hands on an outstanding batch. I would suggest straining these though as their seeds would probably not be a welcome addition. Jeff heard many comments like "Wow! You can make your own marshmallows?!" while they quickly vanished from the serving bowl. Yes, YOU can and really, you must try making your own at least once - you won't go back to those stale ones in the store!