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Fun Food Saturday: Marshmallows

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Happy 2011! Ready to ring in the new year with one of the most fun foods on the planet? How about making your own marshmallows? We gave it a try over the holiday break (yes, we realize we won’t win any nutritional awards for this), and although the process itself wasn’t entirely kid-friendly, the results sure were.

We had been hearing that once you try homemade marshmallows you’ll never want to go back to the store-bought ones again. We’ll say this much: The taste is definitely an improvement. Homemade marshmallows are springier, fluffier, and just cleaner-tasting than their factory-made counterparts. The question is whether you’ll be able to keep them on hand for, say, when you have an unexpected crowd over for some hot chocolate. It takes a while to make the marshmallows, so you can’t exactly throw together a batch while the gang is waiting. But if you’re able to take the time…Mmmm…

To make our marshmallows, we used this basic recipe from Joy of Baking. The main piece of kitchen equipment you’ll need that you might not have is a candy thermometer (we had to borrow one – maybe we’ll ask for one for Christmas next year?). Beyond that, our advice is not to sweat the mess. It’s a process that’s just plain sticky, so you’re going to have to be prepared for that aspect. You can minimize some of the mess by using the parchment paper as called for and not skimping on the sifted powdered sugar (and don’t neglect the sifting either – you definitely don’t want clumps).

The kids can help you with the preliminary mixing, and they can help you monitor the mixer while it is running for ten minutes. But while you’re heating the sugar mixture to 240 degrees, and then pouring it, you’ll want to have the kids far away from the kitchen. Then you’ll have the additional challenge of keeping everyone away from the marshmallows while they set for 12 hours. But once all that is done, everyone can help cut them into pieces. Just don’t forget to have your kids wash their hands (or possibly even take a bath) after the whole process is through.

Fun Food Saturday: Because food should be fun.

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