Monday, August 30, 2010

Gluten Free Homemade Marshmellows by Zoe of Z's Cup of Tea

Today's guest post is written by Zoe of  Z's Cup of Tea. Zoe is a gluten free Canadian teen blogger who loves to cook. Her recipe today is for homemade marshmallows that are sweetened with honey. I can't wait to give these babies a try when I get back from Seattle! Please visit Zoe and thank her for filling in for me! 

My early attempts at marshmallow-making were dismal. Two years ago I tried making marshmallows using honey, gelatin, and egg whites in accordance to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or SCD (a diet that was originally designed to cure celiac disease by eliminating all grains and starches, with honey as the only sweetener allowed. It has also been found to help with other gastrointestinal or autoimmune diseases including Chron’s, IBS, and colitis, and has also found popularity in the autism community for its success-oriented results.) I baked the marshmallows, in an effort to cook the egg whites so they wouldn’t be raw and though they firmed up in the fridge, they weren’t marshmallows in the least.

November of last year I tried making marshmallows again at the behest of my little brother, using a Martha Stewart recipe and replacing the corn syrup with honey, which I documented on my blog at the time. My brother was reading Calvin and Hobbes comics and he wanted to be like Calvin, having hot chocolate with marshmallows when he came inside from playing out in the cold. Those marshmallows didn’t really work out either. I remember feeling distinctly discouraged at the time because a) they didn’t work out when I felt they should have and b) every recipe I saw used a stand mixer - a kitchen appliance that I do not own - and every piece of marshmallow-making advice I found online generally said that it was next to impossible to make marshmallows without one.

I’m a determined person and I endeavor to be a perfectionist about what I do for lack of a better word, so I wasn’t going to let up easily on marshmallow-making but I decided, after that attempt, to take a bit of a break.

Eight months later after my marshmallow disaster, I discovered a recipe for marshmallows that were made without corn syrup. I was excited. This recipe, too, used a stand mixer but I decided that I would try to mix it with my own girl power, since I was already whipping egg whites to stiff peaks by hand. (The Martha Stewart recipe I’d attempted I had mixed alternately by hand and with an electric hand or stick blender.)

These marshmallows worked. Pouring in the syrup into the gelatin with one hand while whisking with the other simultaneously, I whisked with hardly a break and slowly but surely the marshmallow came together: it became that opaque white, it congealed, it thickened... it was true marshmallow! I called my siblings and we all crowded around the bowl, oohing and aahing over it. Instead of corn syrup, agave nectar was used; it also used sugar, but for my next try I didn’t use the sugar and it still worked out. In fact, without the sugar, I noticed the marshmallow set much faster: I’m not a scientist and only have a basic understanding of food science, though I suspect that the crystals in the refined sugar slowed the marshmallow setting. The marshmallow made without refined sugar didn’t stick to the bowl or make strings everywhere either - making clean-up much easier.

I also found out that marshmallows can be made with honey also, after I took the plunge again in response to a reader’s question about if honey would work instead of the agave. (It was asked if maple syrup could also be a possible substitution, though as of this time, I haven’t yet made marshmallows with maple syrup.) To be truthful, I had my doubts about it working, based on my past experiences with using honey in marshmallow as I’ve already described, but my perseverance paid off in the end and I can show that marshmallows can be still be made even if you don’t have a stand mixer.

Gluten Free Marshmallows, Sugar & Corn Syrup free
Originally posted at Z’s Cup of Tea
  • Because I don’t have a stand mixer, as I have already stated, my instructions are written for mixing the marshmallow by hand. Do not feel obligated, however, to do it by hand if you have already have a stand mixer. The marshmallow tends to splatter a bit, so I recommend wearing an apron or something over your clothes so they don’t get dirty. 
  • There is no need to coat the marshmallows as they don’t stick, although you can if you wish to. Use toasted coconut flakes for coating if following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. 
This makes a small amount of marshmallows, so increase the recipe as needed.
Makes 18 (1-inch) marshmallows, using a square 6” by 6” pan or dish

1 1/2 tablespoons gelatin
1/2 cup ice cold water
1/2 cup agave nectar or honey
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Chill a large mixing bowl and balloon whisk (the bigger the better) in the freezer for a few minutes, or longer. Soften the gelatin with half the water (1/4 cup) in the chilled bowl.

Cook the remaining 1/4 cup of water, agave nectar or honey, and salt over medium heat, covered, for 3 minutes. Increase heat slightly to bring it to a gentle boil. If using agave syrup, cook until it registers 235 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. If using honey, cook until it registers 200 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer.

Pour the syrup slowly, in a steady stream, into the softened gelatin, whisking gently at the same time. When all the syrup is poured in, increase your speed and mix vigorously. It will start frothing and soon become white, although it will still be thin at this point. Keep whisking and it will gradually thicken. (I made a video demonstrating this.) At some point during the mixing, as the marshmallow gets thicker, you may wish to switch to a smaller balloon whisk for better dexterity and ease of control.

When the marshmallow has reached a stage similar to smooth, soft peak meringue (but bouncier), add the vanilla extract and whisk for about a minute or two longer. If using honey, you will have to mix it longer than if you were using agave nectar. Marshmallow sweetened with honey won’t be as thick, initially after finishing mixing, as agave-sweetened marshmallow but it will continue to thicken as it sets.

Scrape the marshmallow with a rubber spatula, preferably flexible, into a small square 6” by 6” inch pan or dish lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and wait until fully set (if it’s a hot day, storing it in the fridge may help). To test if it’s set, touch the surface with your fingertip: it shouldn’t stick to your finger at all, without any marshmallow left on your finger. When the marshmallow is set, turn out on to a plate and use a length of dental floss to cut into squares. A knife may also be used for this, but the dental floss will ensure more smoothly cut marshmallows. Enjoy!
  • Zoe's marshmallows sweetened with agave nectar originally posted here.
  • Zoe's marshmallows sweetened with honey originally posted here.
Zoe of Z’s Cup of Tea is a passionate foodie: a term she uses endearingly to describe herself and her gastronomic interests. She started cooking and baking gluten-free, dairy-free, and Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) friendly foods for her brother recovering from autism and shares her recipes on her blog.
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