It’s Christmas crunch time! This is the week where you realize that you still haven’t bought a gift for the impossible-to-buy-for relative/friend/work Yankee swap, and you’ve got to buck up and just do it. I did a pretty good job this year, considering I’ve been on maternity leave, and I only have a few last minute purchases to make.
If you don’t feel like purchasing a gift for the last few people on your list, why not make something? Edible gifts are one way to bring Christmas cheer without giving stuff that no one needs. Who doesn’t like a tasty homemade treat around this time of year (or any time of year, let’s face it)? Most people like to make baked goods, so I decided to try something a little different this year and made candy. Marshmallows, actually. Espresso marshmallows, to be precise. I’m so, so glad that I decided to try these, because boy are they good! Marshmallows are one of my favorite candies, so it’s only fitting that I share my love of them with others.
I’ve actually never even tried to make marshmallows. I knew if I was going to make them, I couldn’t just make regular ones. I had to be creative, especially if I was going to blog them (and obviously I was going to do that, because this was one of the better ideas I have had in 2016 and I wanted to share it). I couldn’t just make vanilla or chocolate or whatever other kinds of marshmallows people make. I needed to go big. So I thought…and thought…and texted friends…and thought more. Which flavors go with hot chocolate? Because that’s what these are for, anyway. Peppermint? Yes, but overdone. Some sort of boozy flavor? Yes, but that seems complicated. Coffee? YES. COFFEE. Most of my friends can attest to the fact that I am either drinking coffee or talking about coffee about 90% of the time, so the fact that this idea didn’t come to me sooner is actually amazing. Blame it on sleep deprivation. But I settled on coffee flavored marshmallows and got cracking.
I set out with my infant daughter to buy everything I needed to make these bad boys. A candy thermometer. A 9×9 pan. Gelatin. Instant espresso powder. Corn syrup. Vanilla bean paste. It turns out that almost nothing involved in marshmallow-making is a pantry or kitchen staple, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I collected all my goodies (purchased at 3 different stores–a huge pain), brought them home, and started working. I used a generic marshmallow recipe from Epicurious for Homemade Marshmallows, which was great for making basic marshmallows, and tweaked it a little bit. To be honest, the whole process was pretty easy. I added in my instant espresso powder as the marshmallow whipped, and it slowly turned from a bright white into a coffee colored foam. Yum. When it was time to sample the final product, it was exactly what I had hoped for: light, fluffy, sweet, and with a hint of coffee that would meld perfectly in a cup of cocoa. I made some hot chocolate, from scratch, and confirmed that this was a match made in heaven.
Start by dissolving gelatin in water in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Next, add granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water to a pot. Bring to a boil, and then up to 240F.
Remove from heat, and slowly add the melted sugar mixture to the gelatin mixture with the mixer on low. Increase the speed slowly until it’s at almost full speed, and the mixture will become white and marshmallowy, and will make a thick ribbon when the whisk is lifted from the mixture (like so).
Add in flavoring: instant espresso powder and vanilla bean paste. The paste gives little flecks of vanilla bean. You can use vanilla extract instead, though. Whisk until well incorporated and coffee-colored.
Pour the mixture into a baking pan dusted with confectioners sugar. Allow the mixture to set.
Turn the mixture out onto a counter dusted with confectioners sugar. Dust the top with more of the sugar. Cut into 64 equal pieces.
Dust each piece in a mixture of confectioners sugar and instant espresso powder. Serve with some hot chocolate, or just eat them on their own!
- 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- ¼ tsp salt
- 7 tsp instant espresso powder, granules crushed into a powder, divided
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- about ½ to 1 cup powdered sugar
- Stand mixer with whisk attachment
- Candy thermometer
- Sharp knife
- 9x9 inch cake pan
- Mesh sieve
- Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x9 in pan lightly with cooking spray. Then dust with powdered sugar (start with about ¼ cup), and dump out the excess. Set aside.
- Mix the gelatin with ½ cup of water in the bowl of the stand mixer. Stir it around to make sure all the gelatin granules have dissolved in the water.
- In a 3-4 quart heavy pot, add the granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and ½ cup water. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally, dissolving the sugar. When the mixture comes to a boil, place the candy thermometer in the pot. Do not stir the mixture. Cook undisturbed until the temperature reaches 240F, and then remove from heat.
- With the whisk on low speed, slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin (I poured over 1-2 minutes). Once the entire mixture has been poured in, slowly increase the speed every 30 seconds or so, until you have reached high speed (on my KitchenAid mixer, that was between 8-10).
- When the mixture becomes white and fluffy, add in 5 tsp espresso powder, one teaspoon at a time. Add the vanilla bean paste.
- Continue to whisk until the mixture forms a thick ribbon, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the marshmallow mixture into the baking pan. If the mixture is unevenly distributed, use wet fingertips to smooth it out.
- Allow the pan to sit on the counter, undisturbed, until the surface is no longer sticky (at least 4 hours, up to overnight). Place a few tablespoons of confectioners sugar in a mesh sieve, and dust over the top of the marshmallows.
- Dust the counter with confectioners sugar. Run a spatula or knife along the edges of the marshmallow in the pan, and then carefully remove the entire marshmallow from the pan onto the counter. Dust the top of the marshmallow with more confectioners sugar.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the marshmallow into 64 equal pieces (8 strips in each direction). You may spray your knife with cooking spray, and then dust with confectioners sugar, if the knife is sticking too much.
- Add ¼ cup confectioners sugar and the remaining 2 teaspoons espresso powder into a large resealable plastic bag. Add 3-4 pieces of marshmallow, and shake to coat each piece with the sugar mixture. Remove each piece, dust off excess sugar, and set aside. Repeat with all pieces of marshmallow.
- Store in a resealable container at room temperature.