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Candy Making Newbie

I was considering making homemade marshmallows as gifts this year (made a bittersweet chocolate sauce last year that was a huge hit!) but I've never attempted candy making at home before.

I was thinking about making Ina Garten's recipe, and I know I need to buy a candy thermometer. I have about $50 in credit to Williams Sonoma, any recommendations on brands?

Also, do I need a stand mixer? I have a hand-held beater that I use for whipped cream/egg whites but the beaters are not whisk-like.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

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  1. I don't know Ina Garten's recipe, but if I were to use a hand-held mixer for ther recipe I use, I'd have to have another pair of hands to slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the mixing bowl. Then again, the resulting cummulo-nimbus cloud of marshmallow fluff might be way to big for just a hand-held. Also, the mixing has to go on long enough for the fluff to cool--about 15 minutes. I'm not sure I would be that patient.

    It may not be necessary, but it sure helps to have a stand mixer.

    1. I use a cheap ol' glass candy thermometer that probably came from Target or something. It works fine, you just have to be careful when washing it so it doesn't break. If you want to spend your gift certificate at WS, I suppose you could ask them about their digital thermometer recommendations. Does WS sell an infrared thermometer? That would be cool, but kind of over the top.

      I use a stand mixer when making marshmallows, mainly because of the above-mentioned length of whisking. It makes it easy to set up and do something else in the kitchen (like soak the dishes in hot water). Unless you're making a small batch, I'd also tend to think the aerated fluff might get too tall for a hand-held to be effective. I make a standard batch and it comes right up to the top of my KitchenAid mixing bowl.

      If you have time, just make a test batch with your hand held and see how it turns out. If you're not happy with it, turn the marshmallows into s'mores or mix them into brownies.

      1. Marshmallows are made in my kitchen a lot (because my grand chowhound loves to make them and I don't care if she's 11, she's not pouring that hot sugar syrup into the egg whites), but I can't imagine making them without my KitchenAid. Of course, my grandmother (whose recipe we use) didn't have one and she managed, but come on, they have to be beaten for 15 minutes!

        1. I finally got fed up with glass candy thermometers that had teeny-tiny hard-to-read numbers, and that always fogged up anyway. I bought a digital one at Williams-Sonoma that I've been very happy with:

          http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

          1. Oooh, that digital therm looks cool, I might have to add that to my collection.

            Also, my hand mixer is electric (not the rotary egg beater kind) but I would have to hold it with just one hand, does that make a difference? Maybe I could rercuit a friend or bribe a family member nearby with the Kitchen Aid.

            1. I've made marshmallows several times without a kitchen aid. just my trusty hand held. the recipe i use doesnt have egg whites. anyway as you beat it the marshmallow likes to creep up the handles so you have to watch to ensure that it doesnt go into the mechanism of the beater but it worked fine for me.

              just sign me,
              one of the many without a kitchen aid

              1 Reply
              1. re: Produce Addict

                oh and one more thing. i also have the cheapo candy thermometer from target and it works fine. but if w-s has one that can go low enough to measure chocolate (80 degrees or so if my memory serves correctly) that would be handy

              2. Are they really worth all the trouble? I've seen all the recipes but never been ambitious enough to try them on my own.

                1. An update:

                  I made my first batch of marshmallows last night using the Barefoot Contessa recipe and my handheld.

                  First, I bought the digital candy thermometer from W-S and LOVE it. Very easy to use, and I'm sure it will get easier if I can figure out how to do the set mode.

                  Second, the handheld was working ok until the end when the marshmallow got really big and started to creep up, just as you all said it would. By then, my arm was tired and I just poured it in the pan. I don't think it was quite 15 mins though, could that have affected anything?

                  Third, Ina suggests dusting the pan with powdered sugar so they don't stick. But I couldn't get the sugar to stick to the side of the Pyrex. How you do all keep them from sticking? It was so hard to get them out of the pan!

                  Fourth, finally used a pizza cutter to cut, which is very nice. Still, everything is very sticky!

                  Fifth, how do I store them and how long will they last?

                  Thank you for all your help!

                  1. I recommend lining your pan with foil, then giving it a light spray of pam, then dusting with half sifted powdered sugar cut with half potato starch. You can sub cornstarch, but it doesn't work as well. Let them dry over night, then remove the foil from the pan and cut.

                    Put them in an airtight container. I know marshmallows w/o egg whites will last a few weeks. I do not know how long the others will.