Fire Life

Homemade Marshmallows

By Ryan McKay

Not much impresses the masses, firefighters or not, like a homemade marshmallow. Equal parts science and sugar, this confectioner’s creation is a little slice of heaven and I promise, you’ll swear off the store-bought variety forever more. This recipe allows you to make them well in advance; they’re portable (always a plus with all the traveling) and simply delicious.

The making of them is fairly straightforward here, no surprises. This also has the added bonus of our pulling out the heavy rescue equipment (AKA- the stand mixer) and letting it do all the work. The hardest part is smoothing out the marshmallow fluff when they’re fresh from the mixer.

I added the ganache as a vehicle to add additional flavor or topping (crushed candy canes, toasted nuts, etc.). You can skip the ganache entirely and still win the crowd over with the stand-alone marshmallow; they’re that good.

*Some after the fire critiques: I flavor the ganache with tea (Cha Cha to be specific), but use any one that you’d think would pair well with chocolate. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Can you flavor the marshmallow directly?” Why yes, yes you can! Let your imagination be your guide, and choose whatever noel-inspired flavor sounds best (for the station, think chocolate; for the home, think peppermint schnapps liquor). Just be gentle with the amount: Think 1 tsp-Tbsp, and add it just before the marshmallow fluff gets too stiff.

 

Fuel:

 

Marshmallows

Gelatin (3 packets)

Cold Water (1 Cup)

Sugar (1½ Cups)

Light Corn Syrup (1 Cup)

Vanilla (1 tsp.)

Salt (¼ tsp. or a pinch)

Powdered Sugar (¼ Cup)

Corn Starch (¼ Cup)

 

Ganache

Heavy Whipping Cream (¾ Cup)

Unsalted Butter (4 ounces)

Chocolate (8 ounces)

Vanilla (1 tsp.) and/or….

Tea (any kind you want, I used Cha Cha)

 

Tools:

Stand Mixer (or hand mixer) with whisk/paddle attachment

13” x 9” Baking Dish

Medium Pot with Lid

Medium Bowl

Candy Thermometer

Fine Mesh Strainer

Parchment Paper

Cooking Oil (spray)

Large Serving Platter

Various Ramekins (or similar)

Spatula (off-set preferred)

Whisk

 

Tactics:

 

Marshmallows

  1. Spray the inside of the baking dish with cooking oil, and then layer with an overlarge piece of parchment (to create handles) and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the gelatin and ½ cup of the cold water and allow it to stand (bloom) while preparing the sugar syrup (about 5 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, add the sugar, light corn syrup, remaining cold water, vanilla, and salt to a pot and place over medium-high heat.
  4. Bring to a boil, then cover 3 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and insert a candy thermometer and continue to heat until it reaches the “soft ball stage” (240°F). Remove from heat.
  6. Place the mixer on low, then carefully add the syrup to the bowl, being careful to add the side of the bowl (not the spinning whisk, I want you to keep your eyes).
  7. When finished adding all the syrup, slowly bring the mixer to high and let it spin for 12-15 minutes. It does get loud and for a long time; have patience, the magic is happening.
  8. Place the marshmallow fluff into the prepared baking dish and, working quickly, smooth out the top.
  9. Allow the marshmallow to sit out at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.
  10. Mix the powdered sugar and cornstarch and sift onto a clean large work surface.
  11. When ready, place the exposed side down on the prepared work surface, peel off the parchment paper, then dust with more powder.
  12. Using a large chef’s knife or pizza cutter, slice the marshmallow into 1” cubes, ensuring to sift the exposed sticky sides periodically.
  13. Place in a plastic sealable bag and reserve/store til ready.

 

Ganache

  1. Using a large bulky knife (ALA: a cheese knife), roughly chop the chocolate, then place in the medium bowl.
  2. Add the cream and butter to the medium pot, and slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Place into a large coffee cup, and then steep with the tea if using.
  4. Pass the tea through a fine mesh strainer over the chocolate.
  5. Add vanilla if not using tea (but you really should use tea).
  6. Allow the cream to sit for 1 minute, then whisk to combine. Reserve til ready.

 

Ryan McKay is a 12-year fire service veteran and a firehouse cook from Atlanta, Georgia. His goal is to bring the fast-paced lifestyle of the fire service with the slow-paced art of cultivating family and crew through the tool that is food. He has made an appearance on NBC’s primetime show “Food Fighters,” is a co-founder of the Metro Atlanta EMS Conference, and works intimately with the SafePath Child Advocacy Center.