So apparently, I lack all counting ability and the bank somehow found another $100 in the paper bag of money that we raised at the Calgary Food Blogger Bake Sale - so I wrote a cheque for $2,000 to Brown Bagging for Calgary's Kids Society! Thanks, Calgary!
Anyway, there was clearly a lot of non-thinking when I organized the bake sale because our oven was on the fritz. How can you bake something without an oven? I racked my brain for a no-bake treat and finally decided on marshmallows.
I think anyone who really likes candy needs to try making their own because what goes into them can be quite shocking! Truffles are chocolate and heavy cream (sometimes butter too), while marshmallows are sugar, more sugar (in the form of corn syrup), gelatin and sometimes egg whites (pasteurized, because no one likes salmonella).
I looked at a few recipes before settling on one to base my marshmallows off of - while David Lebovitz offered lots of great tips and links, I ultimately settled on one from Smitten Kitchen, using toasted coconut to coat the base instead of the usual icing sugar.
The marshmallows themselves were dead simple. Having to use a candy thermometer may be a little off-putting for some, but when it comes down to it, it's really just boiling some syrup, pouring it over gelatin, whipping it up, then mixing it with some whipped egg whites.
To make things a little fancier, I decided to use vanilla bean instead of regular ol' vanilla extract.
It was definitely a very unique smell - the familiar vanilla was there, but it was so intense there were some earthy undertones. Scraping the vanilla bean pod was a little messy for a n00b like me, but it was worth it for the flavour and seeing those little black flecks in the marshmallow mixture.
I saved the pod to make vanilla sugar, but I should've done it right away because I think it's a little too late for that now :S Oh well, I do have another one...
The marshmallows do become quite sticky and gummy to work with, but in the end it was a lot of fun "unmolding" the slab from the baking dish, then cutting it into strips, then squares with the kitchen shears.
One of the *dreaded* requirements of the bake sale was putting everything into individuals packages! So many bloggers (including myself!) stayed up till the wee hours packing everything away to help things run more smoothly during the actual bake sale. I picked up these cute little bags (originally for lollipops!) from Michaels and also attached one of my moo cards on each. It was not until later when I realized that I just gave 24 people my number! Oops! Fortunately no creepy calls yet ;)
Vanilla Bean Marshmallows with Toasted Coconut
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 96 1"-cubed marshmallows
- 3 cups (750 mL) sweetened shredded coconut
- 3 envelopes unflavoured gelatin
- 1 cup (250 mL) cold water, divided
- 2 cups (500 mL) sugar
- ½ cup (125 mL) light corn syrup
- ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
- ¼ cup (60 mL) pasteurized egg whites, or 2 large egg whites
- Seeds from a scraped vanilla bean pod
Nutrition Info (per 4 marshmallows): 148 calories, 4 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 g trans), 28 g carbohydrate (1 g fibre, 24 g sugar), 1 g protein, 65 mg sodium.
- In a large skillet or wok, toast shredded coconut a half-cup (125 mL) at a time over medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Set aside.
- Oil bottom and sides of a 13" × 9" × 2" rectangular metal baking pan and sprinkle about 1 cup (250 mL) toasted coconut on the bottom of the pan.
- In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over ½ cup cold water, and let stand to soften.
- In a 3-quart (3 L) heavy saucepan, cook sugar, corn syrup, remaing water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F (116˚C), about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
- With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10+ minutes if using hand-held mixer. (The motor was starting to heat up quite a bit on my hand-held mixer just when it was the right time to stop.)
- In a separate medium bowl, beat egg whites with cleaned beaters until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t fret if you don’t get it all out. Sprinkle 1 cup (250 mL) toasted coconut evenly over top. Let stand uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
- Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. (I lined mine with plastic wrap.) Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. Using kitchen shears, cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (A large knife or an oiled pizza cutter works well here too.) Roll the marshmallows through the remaining toasted coconut, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.