Went and got me some Vanilla Bean Paste, that's what I did. And I plan to use it every single chance I get. I think it's fancy, and supremely delicious, and gives you vanilla bean flecks in a vanilla extract syrup, with none of the vanilla bean scraping work. It even says on the bottle, Finest Quality.
Amazon for a pretty penny (plus shipping.) Or Sur La Table. Or CHEFS. Or, if you're lucky, like me, to live near a Home Goods store, you can just browse their gourmet aisle and pick yourself up a bottle or two for just $5.99 each (plus tax.) Love it.
My VBP's maiden recipe was this super awesome springy, bouncy, perfect marshmallow. I made it in a jelly roll pan, then used an oiled pizza cutter to cut it into thin strips one way, then mini marshmallows the other way. They went with my hot chocolate stir stick bar at the church Christmas party. Good thing I like those people so much. Not that the marshmallow was that much work; it really wasn't. But I used a whole tablespoon of my precious VBP, and I wouldn't do that for just anyone.
Vanilla Bean Marshmallows (print recipe)
Makes 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows or about a gazillion minis
About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar plus 3 T cornstarch
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or mint extract or maybe even some food coloring for tinting)
1. Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar mixed with cornstarch. If you want to make mini marshmallows, use a jelly roll pan so the marshmallow will spread out and be shorter.
2. In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften. It will become a gelatinous mass, and may fascinate your science-minded children.
3. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate 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.
4. 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.
5. In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (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 (learning from my mess of a first round). Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
6. 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. An oiled pizza cutter works great for this, especially if you are making mini mallows. Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar/cornstarch mixture 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. Or you can shake them in a plastic bag.
Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.
Sorry no pictures of the finished mini marshmallows - we cut them and ran to the party, no time for a photo shoot. And of course, there were none leftover.
Recipe adapted from Gourmet, December 1998 by Smitten Kitchen
1 year ago: Crazy Good Cinnamon Quick-ish Bread
2 years ago: White Chocolate and Vanilla Bread Pudding
3 years ago: The Christmas Haul