Baked Sunday Mornings: Vanilla Bean Coconut Marshmallows

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Welcome to the latest edition of #thanksBAKED. As has happened more times than I can count since joining Baked Sunday Mornings 5+ years ago, my experience with various baked goods has been totally altered by baking our group’s assigned recipe. This week we made Vanilla Marshmallows, which I turned into Vanilla Bean Coconut Marshmallows because sometimes I just can’t leave well enough alone. I was not at all looking forward to this recipe. It’s the same as the topping we made for the Chocolate Rice Crispy Cake with Marshmallow Frosting, which I really wanted to like, but was pretty underwhelming. From what I remembered, the marshmallow got slimy pretty quickly and definitely didn’t keep for a week as described. Therefore, I was not at all excited about making the marshmallow mixture again, especially after re-reading the recipe, which requires you to do three things at the same time involving hot sugar and gelatin. But in the name of self-improvement I did it anyway, and I’m so glad I did!

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I was imagining the process being long and tedious, but actually the marshmallows are pretty quick to make. I was glad that I went back and read my blog post from the Rice Crispy Cake, as I’d made several useful notes:

  • Prep literally all ingredients and equipment before turning on any burners– you will need to add/do stuff in rapid succession, and slowing down to measure out ingredients can affect the timing and possibly the outcome.
  • Only soak the gelatin for a few minutes; if you leave the sheets in the bowl of water beyond that, they will start to disintegrate. Last time, I followed the directions and left them soaking while the sugar syrup cooked, but when I went to squeeze them out, they had fallen apart, which makes it almost impossible to squeeze out all the water. This time, I soaked them for maybe 5 minutes (maybe less?), and they were quite pliable, so I was able to squeeze the hell out of them and didn’t end up with unwanted water in my melted gelatin.
  • Speaking of gelatin, the recipe is vague about the potency of the gelatin sheets. I talked a lot about this in other recipe, but basically gelatin sheets come in different grades of Bronze/Silver/Gold/Platinum, called “bloom strength”. The higher the bloom strength, the more stiff the gel hold. The recipe does not specify a bloom strength, so I figured I’d go with Silver like I did last time. However, I pulled out my oldest gelatin sheets from King Arthur (no idea how long I’ve had them), and they too are not labeled with a bloom strength, so I decided they were meant to be for this recipe!
  • Last time I also realized that it’s very hard to pour hot gelatin from a hot bowl precisely between the mixer bowl and moving whisk and not spilling any out of the bowl, so this time I transferred the gelatin to a glass measuring cup with a spout, which made it so much easier to pour into the mixer.

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The one mistake I made was that I forgot to turn on the burner under the pot of water for melting the gelatin, so I had to rush to melt the gelatin and simultaneously try to keep the temperature of the sugar syrup from increasing beyond 240°F. Fortunately it was just fine, and my marshmallow whipped up beautifully in the mixer.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this recipe ended up– not sure why I thought it would be really time-consuming? To make this flavor, I added 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste and 1 teaspoon pure coconut extract to the marshmallow mixture in the last minute of mixing. I made that on Day #1, let it set overnight, then cut the block into cubes on Day #2 and rolled them in a mixture of confectioners’ sugar, ground vanilla beans, and crushed toasted coconut. (The coconut didn’t really stick to the marshmallows, but it flavored the sugar pretty well. Next time I’d probably grind it up finely in a food processor.) The coconut and vanilla flavors were just the right intensity– I would definitely make these again just the same way.

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You can find the recipe for Vanilla Marshmallows (or make your own flavor) at Baked Sunday Mornings, and check out the other bakers’ ‘mallows too. These make great holiday or Valentine’s gifts, and they are super delicious in hot chocolate (of course they are). I wasn’t sure about coconut hot chocolate, but it was great! 🙂

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2018.

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