I just love opening my mailbox and having a new one or two there to greet me.
I especially love cooking magazines.
Prior to Christmas the lovely folks at the magazine companies like to taunt people like me with pretty pictures of their "simple" candy recipes.
And then there is my cooking hero Ina Garten. You might be familiar with Ina - she prides herself on getting "back to basics". Ha!
Well folks, in my opinion there is nothing "simple" or "basic" about cooking anything that requires my arch nemesis the candy thermometer.
You see, I fear the thing.
Any recipe that says something along the line of "insert candy thermometer and bring the mixture up to 245 degrees and then lower the heat and bring the mixture to 295" scares the *@^*@% out of me!
Anyway, Ina makes marsh mellows. Yes, MAKES them. No marsh mellow from a plastic bag for Ina. And they are very pretty - and after watching her make them a couple of times I became envious and decided that I too could make a marsh mellow.
So, I gathered the ingredients, dug the candy thermometer out from the back of the gadget drawer, brought out my handy dandy stand mixer and got to work.
Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let it stand 30 minutes.
Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup of water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.
With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.
I should mention that sometime around the beginning of step 2 the Senor came in from the office. He sat down at the bar and we chatted about the day as I monitored the candy thermometer. We hit 244 degrees, removed from heat, added to gelatin mixture and began to "beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes". YES, SUCCESS, I have overcome my fear of the candy thermometer!
The mixture began to thicken...it turned white...it became thicker...
We were about seven minutes in to our 15 minute process when...
The mixer made a large thud...
There was a familiar smell...
A burning smell...
Yes, the mixer was DEAD.
I have a large blob of half-way beaten marsh mellow mixture and a DEAD mixer.
I immediately go in to something along the lines of panic.
The Senor, being the Senor, is calm and goes in to "fix it" mode. We discuss the hand mixer option. We don't think it will work but, hey, what is a girl to do?
This my friends is when when the Senor began snapping photos and through much laughter informed me that I am my own "Betty-Effing-Crocker" and that I could quote him on that!
As you can see getting the beaters and mixture AWAY from the stand mixer got interesting and things with the hand mixer were a complete disaster. I believe I had as much marsh mellow on me as I had in the bowl!
At this point we decided we had done all we could do and poured them in to the pan, covered them in roasted coconut and called it good.
The next day I cut them, coated their edges in powdered sugar and I guess for my first effort they turned out pretty good. I'm sure they aren't as fluffy as Ina would like hers but after all she has an endless amount of stand mixers to burn through!
We did continue on that night and make Hazelnut Crunch (the Senor handled the candy thermometer portion of this recipe as I was covered in marsh mellow and still a little traumatized by the mixer situation!) and Holiday Biscotti. They look holiday-eee, don't you think?
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve - may you and yours have a joyous Christmas filled with love, family and friends and may each of us never forget the true meaning of Christmas.