We decided to make marshmallows. Ever since I saw Martha Stewart discussing marshmallows with her daughter, Alexis, I’ve wanted to see how they were made and (of course) do it myself. Alexis claimed that they were very simple and oh, so EASY.
She wasn’t lying. But then again, just because something is simple doesn’t mean you can’t get yourself all mixed up in it and try to mess it up, anyway.
Let me back up for you. The Bee has the week off. The Bee is my mother’s long time best friend. The Bee’s oldest son is about the same age and childhood friends with my older brothers. Now that they’re into their 30s, you can imagine that we’ve known The Bee and her husband for a long enough time to consider them more than just family friends. The thing about The Bee is that she’s always, well…busy. She’s constantly buzzing around, coming up with new ideas, working, reading, hiking…thinking. She’s very busy, indeed. So when The Bee took a week off of work for the holidays, you knew that there was going to be something going on.
Since the Bee has the week off, she asked her friend, who knows a thing or two about making marshmallows, to come and make a batch with us.
That’s how we ended up with the perfectly finished mallows in tow.
Martha and Alexis said that marshmallows are simple and they certainly are. Sugar, corn syrup, water and flavoring are all it takes. You have to boil them until 244*F (this is candy, after all) and then you have beat them until they get big.
We really were doing fine up until the beating part.
We poured in the hot, cooked mess and let the mixer roll. We turned it up high. The Bee said she’d never set the mixer that high before. The recipe calls for 15 minutes at high speed, until it triples in size. About three minutes in and the light, almost indistinguishable smell of burning begins to fill the air. No fear. Let’s make the mixer work. We soldier on. The thick white mass begins to double, then triple in size. The twenty year old mixer which, up until this point has worked just fine, thank you, starts giving off a whining sound and the smell becomes more intensified. We stop the beaters, discuss our options and turn it back on.
Suddenly the white begins rapidly creeping up the beaters and a giant mass forms on the underside of the mixer. We stop and scrape. The situation is assessed. Only two minutes left. We persist. Scraping and hoping, the air filling with smoke the timer finally beeps. The glossy white fluff goes into the pans and the cooks, having survived the intensity of the moment, reward ourselves with a few tastes of the soft and fluffy mallow straight from the bowl.
Sugar in pan, now its time to assess the damage. The seemingly innocuous white fluff has made its way into the bowels of the machine, snaking its way through the air vents in the bottom of the handle. Mom and The Bee clean away much of the mess which dissolves quite easily. Some of the fluff has the tale tell signs of desiccated roasted, marshmallows. The innards are a bit of a trick and The Bee and I find ourselves on our knees, Q-Tips in hand scraping at the last bits of marshmallow sticking to the insides of the mixer.
Miraculously, we dislodge the last remaining bits of desiccated white.
Time to let the mixer cool down and dry. Only time will tell if our little hero will make it through the night. The marshmallow is cooling in the pan and the cooks are rewarded with a bite of perfectly made marshmallow.
The story doesn’t end badly. How could it, when the ending involves white clouds of fluffy, gooey marshmallow?