Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Advent Activity--Day 7--Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

Our seventh Advent activity was making homemade peppermint marshmallows from scratch. I made marshmallows one other time in my life when I was in 4-H as a teenager. I made them from honey that time. I add seen this recipe in FamilyFun magazine a few years ago and had torn it out and filed it into my idea binder. It finally got trotted out this year as we dove into making our own marshmallows. I have read about homemade marshmallows on a few other blogs and was eager to test them out.

First we poured the unflavored gelatin packets into the cold water and set this aside.

Then we mixed the other ingredients together in a saucepan. At this point, just my oldest son and I were doing the activity. My younger son wanted to play in the other room. And I was fine with that. I seldom do "forced" activities. Usually the novelty of a new activity is enough to draw him in, which was true later on.

The next step was to boil everything until it reached a temperature of 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. We only have a meat thermometer (which is funny because we only use it when we cook a turkey once a year), so I just used that and guessed where 240 would be.

Then we added the boiled mixture to the gelatin mixture and had to mix on high speed for 12 MINUTES!! That is a long time, people, when you only have a hand mixer. Actually, it wasn't that bad. It was fun to see the transformation of the mixture as time went on. In the beginning (as shown above) it was very liquidy and frothy. At that point it certainly did not look like marshmallows would be the final result.

Over the 12 minutes, however, the mixture became thicker, stickier, and began to resemble marshmallow creme. The boys were very excited to watch this. My youngest son stood on a chair and exclaimed over and over about the "mountains" and laughed when the mixture flew off the beaters.

After the 12 minutes of mixing, I added 1/2 tsp. of peppermint extract (the recipe calls for vanilla, but we wanted peppermint instead this time) and mixed that in. Then I spread the whole mixture into a 9X13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. It was VERY sticky. The next step was to wait at least 12 hours for the marshmallow mixture to become dry to the touch. Since we started this project at noon on Sunday after church, I planned to finish the marshmallows with the boys after school on Monday. I told my oldest son that making marshmallows is very much like the Advent season itself in that we have to wait a long time for the end result.

In the meantime, however, there was the instant gratification of licking the beaters which were covered with sweet, sticky, minty marshmallow creme. Oh, my, YUM!! So good!

We allowed our mixture to sit out overnight and cut out the marshmallows after school on Monday. By that time the top of the marshmallow slab was truly dry to the touch. The night before when I checked it was actually still a bit sticky on top. So you really should give it at least 12 hours in my opinion. We dusted a piece of waxed paper with powdered sugar and flipped the marshmallow slab onto it. At that point, we used a small star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the marshmallows. They were very easy to cut out.

Next, we rolled the cut marshmallows in red sugar. This made them look pretty, of course, but it also made the cut edges less sticky.

You can see from the next photo that we were able to cut LOTS of marshmallows out of our slab. If you just cut into squares with a knife you could make even more.
The next photo shows our finished marshmallows. I am SO happy with this project. We will definitely be making these again and we'll try the vanilla flavoring next. I am already thinking these would make great Valentine's gifts cut into heart shapes and packaged together with a cocoa mix. We will do this next Christmas FOR SURE!!


rainbowmummy said...

Oh I remember my attempt at making marshmallows. It was messy but as long as you're in the mood for that it's fun. It was interesting making it with out a thermometer though, just kind of looking in the pot and shrugging. Isn't the "raw" or unset mix delicious? I could eat the whole bowl!

I hope to try it again this time with Egg, but he is terrified of the mixer BUT I will not give in, he was terrified of my new hairdryer but I just worked on making it fun and now he loves it.

I never thought of adding peppermint before, yum. I covered mine in icing sugar (powdered sugar to you?) I will need to take a look at the recipe you guys used as whilst the one I used was great I wouldn't have been able to use cutters.

I am thinking desiccated coconut "snow"....and for valentines the hears sound deliciously cute! Would make a "cute bunch of flowers" too, cut out flowers, decorate and sticks as stems perhaps in a little vase. Good for easter or mothers day or just spring full stop.

Amy said...

What a fun fun activity! I am so doing this with my kids! They will get such a kick out of this... yay!

Thanks for sharing :)