RECIPE BY LISA VEGA
In the pastry kitchen here at Dandelion, we make fresh marshmallows twice, sometimes three times, a day. One feature in the café that will never change is our giant bowl of unlimited serve-yourself marshmallows in the front of the factory. I’ve seen children fill their backpacks, grown men fill their pockets, and almost everyone else pile as many as they can on top of their hot chocolates. They are lighter and fluffier than the ones in the store (and without preservatives) and have a sticky, fresh edge that we roll in cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar. This recipe may seem daunting, but don’t be intimidated! Yes, you have to pay close attention at every step, but the process gets much easier with practice.
MAKES 175 1-INCH MARSHMALLOWS
VERY COLD WATER
3 1/3 CUP
LIGHT CORN SYRUP
EGG WHITES (FROM 4 EGGS)
Prepare a 12 × 17-inch baking dish (at least 2 inches tall) by lining the bottom with a nonstick silicone baking mat and spraying the bottom and sides generously with NONSTICK COOKING SPRAY. Set aside.
Bloom the GELATIN in a small bowl by whisking it with the COLD WATER (it is important that the water is cold, so that the gelatin sets up properly). After 5 to 10 minutes, the gelatin should be firm enough to slice. Use a small paring knife to cut the gelatin into medium dice. Set aside.
Using a paring knife, gently slice the VANILLA BEAN in half lengthwise, and scrape the beans from the inside of the pod using the back of the knife blade. Set aside.
In a medium pot, combine the GRANULATED SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, and 1 CUP (227 G) water, and stir to combine. Place the probe of a candy thermometer carefully in the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. You will cook the sugar syrup to 260°F (126.7°C); this should take about 10 minutes.
Place the EGG WHITES in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Once the sugar mixture reaches 250F° (121.1°C), start to whip the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. The egg whites should gradually increase in volume, but should not be fully whipped.
Once the sugar syrup reaches 260°F (126.7°C), immediately remove the pot from the heat. Carefully remove the thermometer. Reduce the speed of the stand mixer to low, and slowly pour the hot syrup into the beaten egg whites. It’s important to pour the syrup slowly in a very thin stream to prevent the heat from cooking the egg whites; be careful not to splatter it by pouring it onto the moving whisk. Once all the syrup is added, increase the mixer to high speed; the volume of the entire mixture will double after a few minutes.
Once the mixture is glossy and still warm, reduce the mixer speed to low. Immediately add the gelatin squares, a few at a time, and then add the VANILLA EXTRACT and the vanilla bean seeds. Keep the mixer on low speed until the gelatin is melted and the vanilla is fully incorporated, a minute or two.
Increase the mixer speed to high. Beat until the mixture is very stiff and has tripled in volume, 4 to 6 minutes.
Once the bottom of the bowl is only just slightly warm, turn the mixer off and quickly pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to evenly spread it out. It’s important to work quickly as the marshmallow starts to firm up within minutes. Allow the marshmallows to set at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours.
In a large bowl, whisk together the CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR and CORNSTARCH. Cut the marshmallows into the desired shape (we cut them into 1-inch cubes), and toss them lightly in the confectioners’ sugar mixture, coating them thoroughly to prevent sticking. Marshmallows will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days, or for up to 2 weeks if stored in the refrigerator.