One of my favorite homemade candies is the marshmallow. I’m convinced that anyone who thinks they don’t like marshmallows has never tried a homemade one. Unlike their often stale, store counterparts, freshly made marshmallows are pillowy, bouncy and moist and a great canvas for flavor.
When I first got the beautiful new cookbook À La Mère de Famille, one of the recipes I was immediately drawn to was the chocolate marshmallow recipe. This recipe appealed to me not only because I love homemade marshmallows but also because of the intensely dark chocolate color of the marshmallow. Dark colors and intense flavors can be hard to achieve in marshmallows because of the aeration of the candy. It also appealed to me because there is no corn syrup in this recipe.
I’ve made marshmallows lots of times, though mostly the kind without eggs, so I wasn’t anticipating any trouble with this recipe. However, it turned out to be a bit challenging, possibly because of having been translated from French and the difference in ingredients available there.
The main hurdle was in figuring out how to substitute powdered gelatin for sheet gelatin which I haven’t seen here. After checking various cooking websites, I was able to determine that I could substitute an equal weight of powdered gelatin for the gelatin sheets. Also confusing was that the recipe calls for 3 1/2 oz of gelatin! I’m pretty sure this is a typo as that would be about 14 packets and most marshmallow recipes I’ve ever made call only for one or two packets (1-2 Tbsp.) of gelatin. After trying unsuccessfully to find errata for the book or anyone else who had made this recipe, I noticed that the other marshmallow recipes in the book call for only 1/2 oz of gelatin so that’s what I decided to try.
The next problem was how much water to dissolve the gelatin with. I was afraid that the extra liquid would effect the finished texture of the recipe and I was right to be concerned about that. In my first attempt, I used 1/2 cup of water based on similar recipes. I ended up with a mixture that never thickened beyond a sauce when I was whipping it, although it did set up in the pan into a decent marshmallow. I used less water in the second attempt, but ended up with a hockey puck of gelatin that wasn’t going to evenly mix into the whipped mixture. I used a tip from David Lebovitz’s marshmallow instructions to melt the puck in the pan that was still warm from boiling the syrup. In fact, I really liked Lebovitz’s post as it cleared up a few other problems like how much and when to whip the egg whites, details that the cookbook was a little vague about. I ended up using a combination of his instructions and the cookbook’s instructions.
I was much happier with the marshmallow with less water, especially by the next day when the flavor had mellowed and the marshmallow had firmed up nicely. Even though the recipe says the marshmallows are ready after 3 hours, they really do taste better the 2nd day when the cocoa flavor has had time to become smoother and the marshmallow tastes more like chocolate and less like raw cocoa powder. The color also intensifies and a lot of the coating cocoa powder is absorbed so it’s not so powdery on the outside.
Since these marshmallows are chocolate and naturally gluten free, I am entering these in the We Should Cocoa challenge this month. June’s challenge is hosted by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families and her theme is Gluten Free. The We Should Cocoa challenge, managed by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog, is a great excuse to make a chocolate treat and to use our creativity. The idea is to make something with chocolate each month. We can use any sort of chocolate or cocoa substance and use any ingredient that we like, but we must include the special ingredient or theme selected by the host.
- For the Gelatin Mixture
- ½ oz. (14g) powdered gelatin (see notes)
- ¼ cup (59ml) water
- For the Syrup:
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 2½ Tbsp. mild honey
- 1⅓ cups (9.4oz/267g) sugar
- 3 Tbsp. extra-brute cocoa powder (see notes)
- For the meringue:
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- For coating:
- 1 cup (4oz/113g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- Sprinkle the gelatin on top of ¼ cup of cool water in a shallow dish and set it aside to soften.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, extra-brute cocoa powder, water and honey.
- Start cooking the syrup mixture over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
- At the same time, start whipping the egg whites on low. When frothy, add a pinch of salt.
- When the syrup reaches about 210F/99C on a candy thermometer, turn the mixer up to high and whip the whites to stiff, glossy peaks. Be careful not to over whip.
- When the syrup reaches the soft ball stage, 240F/115C, remove the pan from the heat.
- When the whites are ready and with the mixer on high, incorporate the syrup by pouring it slowly down the side of the mixer. Do not dump it directly on the whites as they will deflate. I had some deflation of the whites anyway (possibly due to a small amount of fat in my cocoa powder), but they thickened again with continuous whipping.
- If the gelatin is soft, add it gently into the whipping sugar and egg white mixture. If the gelatin is completely solid, place it in the still-warm pan from making the syrup and swirl it around for a few seconds. The residual heat from the pan will melt the gelatin so it can be poured into the whites.
- Continue to whip the mixture on high until it has cooled and thickened significantly. It should drop slowly off the beaters, not pour. This may take 10-20 minutes, depending on the strength of the mixer and the starting temperature.
- Sprinkle a clean surface with ½ of the unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted). Pour the marshmallow mixture on top of the cocoa powder and spread into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Sift the remaining cocoa powder over the top.
- Let the marshmallow cool and set up for 3 hours before cutting into cubes. Coat the edges of the cubes in any cocoa powder that has fallen off the marshmallows.
- Store at room temperature in a sealed container. The marshmallows taste much better and are much firmer after curing for 8-12 hours, so these are best made the day before you want to eat them. They should keep for up to a week.
I haven't seen Extra-Brute cocoa powder here in the States, but I believe it is a really high quality dutch process cocoa powder. Any good quality dutch process cocoa powder or extra dark dutch process cocoa powder should work to get the dark color and rich flavor.