Homemade Salted Caramel & Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

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In my addiction to surfing Pinterest, I have come across some tasty recipes and unique ideas for homemade gifts. One such find was homemade marshmallows for DIY s’mores kits to give out for Christmas. Of course, I had to try them out before I gave them as gifts! So, I enlisted my friend Ari and we got to it. We followed this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen because one: it sounded delicious and two: she had step by step pictures to follow! I halved her recipe and used two 8×8 pans so that I could try out different flavors without having to eat 96 marshmallows. Yikes!

Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows 
Adapted from Gourmet, December 1998

Makes about 48 1-inch cubed marshmallows

About 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 3/4 envelopes (1 T plus 1 1/4 t) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water, divided
1 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/8 t salt
1 large egg whites (or reconstituted powdered egg whites)
1 T Van Gogh Dutch Caramel vodka
Freshly cracked kosher salt
(For vanilla bean: scrape half of one vanilla bean and add to mixture with 1 t vanilla extract)

Note: You can also add food coloring to jazz them up! Just use a small amount.

Oil bottom and sides of a 8 x 8 in rectangular metal (I used pyrex) baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/4 cup of cold 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, 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. (It should look like marshmallow creme at this point.)

In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and caramel vodka (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. Sift 1/8 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. {For salted caramel marshmallows: Lightly crack kosher salt over marshmallows.) Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day. (Okay, so I cheated here. I put them in the freezer to chill for about 30 minutes and found them ready to cut.)

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (I used an oiled pizza cutter.) Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.

Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week, though I doubt they will last that long.

Next time I am going to try strawberry and peppermint marshmallows!

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Homemade Bagels – no kneading necessary!

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I’ve been quiet the last few weeks, but not because life has been quiet. In fact, I’ve been baking up a storm: homemade bagels, soft pretzels, lemon curd pie, flourless chocolate torte, salted caramel marshmallows, vanilla bean marshmallows, and more! I will be blogging about a few of these adventures, but I thought I would share the bagel recipe first because it is so easy and so delicious! Let’s face it, good bagels come from bagel shops and are too expensive to regularly indulge in. This recipe makes 10-12 bagels (depending on how big you make them) and costs a mere fraction of what it would be to get a dozen bagels from your favorite shop. And they are delicious!!!

Recipe:

For Dough
1 1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1 1/2 T rapid yeast
3 cups warm water
6 1/2 cups bread flour

For Baking:
8 cups water
3 T sugar
1 t baking soda
Flour for work surface
Whole wheat flour for bread peel
Toppings: sesame seeds, dried onion, poppy seeds, etc.
Pizza Peel, Bread Stone, and Metal Dish

Combine sugar, salt, yeast and water in 5 qt stand mixer with dough attachment. Add flour and mix until combined. Cover and allow to rise 2 hours. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

When ready to make bagels, lightly dust surface of dough with flour and break off a 3 oz or small peach sized piece of dough. Quickly stretch and shape the dough into a ball. Repeat until all dough is used. Allow to rise covered with saran wrap for 20 minutes. Meanwhile boil 8 cups of water in a large stockpot. Preheat oven to 450 F (20 min) with baking stone on center rack, and a metal dish on bottom rack. Once the water is boiling, lower heat to simmer and add sugar and baking soda.

Take a dough ball and make a hole in the center. Slowly stretch out the center until the hole is 2x the diameter of the dough wall. Drop the dough in the simmering water and cook for 2 minutes, then flip it over and cook one more minute.

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Take bagel out and lay on a clean kitchen towel dusted in flour. Repeat until all bagels are boiled. (I did three at a time, but you need to be careful not to crowd them in the pot or they will become misshapen.)

Transfer 5-6 bagels to pizza wheel dusted in whole wheat flour. Add toppings to bagels and slide onto hot stone.

Pour 1 cup hot water into metal pan in oven and quickly shut the door to create a steam bath. Cook bagels 12-15 minutes until slightly golden or longer if you want crispier bagels. Remove and allow to cool on wire rack. Repeat until all bagels are cooked. Enjoy slightly warm with cream cheese or toppings of your choice!