White Day | March 14

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Have you heard about “slime”? If you have children under 14, we’re pretty sure we know your answer. This goopy concoction of cornstarch, glue and food coloring is all the rage with the preteen set, who seem to be on a campaign to fill every last tupperware in the world with varied shades of slime. Some exasperated but creative parents even made a video about it: bonus points for their perfect Gen X song choice.

Don’t worry–our White Day recipe isn’t for slime, but it was hard not to think along those lines while experimenting and perfecting these three delicious recipes. Neither of us is an experienced candy maker–truth be told, who needs to be these days?–but we loved the idea of making marshmallows. They’re tactile and more than a little magical, just like slime. As anyone who’s ever paid a crazy amount for an artisanal marshmallow in a bespoke hot chocolate can attest, they’re worth it: a homemade marshmallow puts those dry commercial puffs to shame. Making them yourself means you can create any size you want, from adorably petite to cloud-like giants, and customize them with a veritable rainbow of flavors. Also, marshmallows are one of the most ancient foods we still consume, dating back to at least 2000 BC, when they were made from the sap of the marshmallow plant and considered medicinal. In ancient Egypt, only gods and royalty were allowed to partake; one can only imagine what they’d make of s’mores…or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

But what exactly is White Day? Only the greatest gender-balancing holiday ever. In Japan and some other Asian countries such as South Korea, China and Vietnam, Valentine’s Day is traditionally a pretty one-sided occasion for which women give men gifts and chocolates. In the late 1970s, a Japanese confectioner realized they could double their sales by inventing a new holiday, exactly a month later, on which men would return the favor. Marshmallows were the first candies marketed under this ingenious scheme, which is how the holiday got its name, and although all kinds of chocolate and gifts are exchanged today, there’s still a strong tradition of white-hued items.

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Now back to the slime. Our first batch of marshmallows, vanilla and pure white, turned out better than we’d expected, despite a distinctly barnyard odor that alarmed us when the gelatin initially met the hot syrup (don’t worry–it fades). Batch number two, flavored with matcha powder, fared less well. First, the water we used to bloom the gelatin was too warm and melted it instead. We started over with very cold water, which worked perfectly. Next, deep in conversation, we let the sugar syrup get a touch too hot and ended up with a clump of green-tea hard candy sloshing around in liquid gelatin. As intriguing as it was, we weren’t tempted to keep it. Luckily, our failures mean we’ve fine-tuned our recipe: if you do just as we say, you’ll end up with several tins full of beautiful, fluffy, multi-colored marshmallows. The matcha marshmallows have a delicate flavor and pretty pastel color, while the chocolate coconut ones are rich and decadent. All this at a fraction of the cost of your local coffee place, and so much more delicious than slime.

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Vanilla Marshmallows

3 packets of plain gelatin

½ cup ice-cold water

cooking spray

¾ cup confectioners sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

½ cup water

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Special equipment: candy thermometer

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, pour in the ½ cup of cold water and sprinkle the gelatin powder on top. It should “bloom,” expanding into a kind of rippled shape. If it melts, your water is too warm and you should start over.

Prepare a 9” or 8” square metal baking pan: spray with cooking spray and coat bottom and sides liberally with sifted confectioners sugar.

In a medium saucepan fitted with the candy thermometer, combine the other ½ cup of water with the sugar, corn syrup and salt and bring to a boil. You can swirl occasionally but there’s no need to stir it. Keeping a close eye on the thermometer, especially after it hits 200℉, boil mixture just until it reaches 238℉.

Very carefully, start mixer on low speed and pour hot syrup into the bowl while it’s running: go slowly and try to keep the flow between the edge of the bowl and the whisk. Once all the syrup is in, turn the mixer up to high and whisk until the mixture is white and thick and very sticky. You can add vanilla at any point. It should take somewhere between 7-10 minutes, and mixture will be just warm but no longer hot. Carefully spoon into prepared pan and spread to edges.

Let pan cool uncovered, several hours or overnight (you can cover it loosely once it’s no longer warm). When you’re ready to cut them, sift more confectioners sugar into a bowl. Turn marshmallow out of pan–you may need to gently tug on it to get it out–and onto a cutting board. Using a large knife, cut into whatever size you like, place pieces in bowl as you go and coating with powdered sugar. If you want, you can toss them in a sieve to remove excess sugar before you store them in an airtight container. Just make sure no sticky spots remain or they will stick together.

Makes 20-25 large marshmallows, or more if you cut them small–keep up to a week at room temperature in an airtight container

 

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Matcha Marshmallows

Matcha green tea powder is available in specialty food stores or you can purchase it online. Look for organic matcha from Japan.

3 packets of plain gelatin

½ cup ice-cold water

cooking spray

¾ cup confectioners sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

½ cup water

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp matcha powder

Special equipment: candy thermometer

Follow steps above until the syrup reaches 238℉. While syrup is coming to the right temperature, whisk 2 to 3 tbsp of very hot water into the matcha powder in a small bowl, until the powder dissolves.

Very carefully, start mixer on low speed and pour hot syrup into the bowl while it’s running: go slowly and try to keep the flow between the edge of the bowl and the whisk. Once all the syrup is in, turn the mixer up to high and whisk until the mixture is white and thick and very sticky. It should take somewhere between 7-10 minutes, and mixture will be just warm but no longer hot. Beat in matcha mixture and vanilla until combined. Then carefully spoon into prepared pan and spread to edges.

Follow instructions above for cooling, cutting and dusting. You can add a little bit of matcha to the confectioner’s sugar for color, but the flavor is strong, so proceed with caution.

Makes 20-25 large marshmallows, or more if you cut them small–keep up to a week at room temperature in an airtight container

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Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows

If you don’t like coconut, or are planning on using these in hot chocolate, skip the coconut and make these pure chocolate.

¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut

3 packets of plain gelatin

½ cup ice-cold water

cooking spray

2 tbsp best-quality cocoa powder, plus more for pan and finishing

1 cup light corn syrup

½ cup water

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Special equipment: candy thermometer

Spread coconut in a baking pan and toast in a 350℉ oven, stirring frequently, until it is golden brown all over. Set aside.

Follow instructions in master recipe with one variation: to prepare pan, spray with cooking spray and coat bottom and sides liberally with sifted cocoa powder and ½ of the toasted coconut.

When the syrup reaches 238℉, start mixer on low speed and pour hot syrup into the bowl while it’s running: go slowly and try to keep the flow between the edge of the bowl and the whisk. Once all the syrup is in, turn the mixer up to high and whisk until the mixture is white and thick and very sticky. It should take somewhere between 7-10 minutes, and mixture will be just warm but no longer hot. Whisk in vanilla and 2 tbsp cocoa powder. Carefully spoon into prepared pan and spread to edges. Top evenly with the remaining toasted coconut.

Follow instructions above for cooling, cutting and dusting, using cocoa powder instead of sugar.

Makes 20-25 large marshmallows–more if you cut them small; keep up to a week at room temperature in an airtight container

2 thoughts on “White Day | March 14

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