Last year, a great night with my girlfriend Caitlin parlayed into a guest post and some very pretty festive treats over the holiday break... Pretty, swirly red, vanilla kissed marshmallows made their way into the hands of fortunate friends and many a mug of steaming hot chocolate.
This is one of two times during the year that I am interested in marshmallows... generally, I'm not a fan. BUT during those cool, dark nights around a campfire in the summer OR the frigid winter while curled up on the couch under blanket and cuddling a mug, I could eat marshmallows until the sugar coma hits.
Winter has only recently hit and already I am in marshmallow mania. While grabbing supplies at the grocery, I did nab that tiny bottle of peppermint extract (which I will probably not find again in a few short weeks when everyone is Christmas baking up a storm) for some future marshmallow making... otherwise, it was the regular suspects before grabbing a bag of pretzels then heading across the street for our new star - beer!
1 cup cold beer (de-fizzed...)
2.5 packets unflavoured gelatin powder (~18g)
1/2 cup light corn syrup (reduced from the past recipe)
2 cups white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pretzels, enthusiastically crushed
We purchased a Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout for these marshmallows. It was just visually striking on the shelf with an impressive website that includes food or dessert pairings for its various products. For the Black Chocolate Stout, only available from October through March, they recommend -in terms of sweet- pairing it with chocolate desserts, cheesecake, fruit tarts and ice cream (while being served in a snifter glass!) or -in terms of savoury- pairing it with strong cheeses, especially Stilton. Neat, eh?
First, crack one of those beers for yourself! Then, crack another and measure one cup of beer into a large measuring jug or bowl. Grab that whisk and DE-FIZZ!! hahah. I enjoyed this part. Let the beer foam up, then let it settle. Of course, you could just open the beer and set it on the counter overnight but I don't always manage to plan that far ahead.
While the beer is relaxing, prep your baking tray. Either line a baking pan with parchment, spray with cooking spray, then coat with icing sugar (all to help that marshmallow goo to not stick).
Now, take 1/2 cup of that flattened beer and add your gelatin. Stir and set aside.
Add the other 1/2 cup of beer to a large saucepan with the corn syrup, sugar and salt and heat to dissolve the sugars. Don't be nervous - the beer may foam up a bit more here but you listened to me when I said LARGE saucepan so that won't be a sticky issue of a mess. Raise the heat and grab your candy thermometer. It's time to candy! And this mixture needs to reach a piping 240 F.
Once your sugar mixture has reached 240 F, pour it over the gelatin mixture or add the gelatin to your mixer, followed by the hot sugar syrup. Set that mixer or hand mixer to high and watch the syrup transform into a fluffy white marshmallow goo. This will probably take about 15 minutes, so crack one more beer if you need the sustenance.
As the mixture works towards soft peaks, take a moment to add in your vanilla extract. Once the mixture reaches soft peaks, mound it into the prepared baking tray and spread evenly. Cover the surface with icing sugar and enjoy the experience of mushing it around... your hands won't stick to the goo!
Let the marshmallows sit overnight before unmolding and cutting into squares or rectangles or whatever shape you would like. Coat the cut sides with icing sugar to prevent sticking.
I melted the chocolate using the lazy-woman's way of microwaving it in 30 second intervals followed by a few quick stirs. If you do this about 3-4 times, you should have a beautiful liquid chocolate in which to dip your marshmallows. Dip then top with a sprinkling of crushed pretzels. (I only dipped the tops of the marshmallows as our taste-tests determined that even a 50% chocolate coverage seemed to overwhelm the subtle beer flavour.)
Enjoy your foray into frat-boy-dom or just a great conversation starting treat!