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question about homemade marshmallows: texture

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HI all,
my batch wound up not light and fluffy, but dense, heavy, and chewy.
I used 3 tbsp gelatin (Knorrs) 2 c sugar, .5 c water, .5 c corn syrup, and boiled until the firm ball stage 244 degrees. Then added the vanilla, and TRIED to beatfor 15 mins but had to quit after 8 as my handheld mixer started to get hot and the mixture to climb up the beaters.

Any idea why the tough, dense, chewy result? Too hot? I would love to try again with your tips.

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  1. Several batches later myself LittleBee, the amount of gelatin can often play a roll in how delicate the homemade marshmallows turn out. Sometimes I use agar flakes. Some recipes call for egg whites which whip up lighter but don't have the same shelf life. I average 20 mins. of whipping. Did you use a candy thermo?

    The website Serious Eats just ran a contest on marshmallow making and there are some excellent tips and recipes connected to that story.

    Good luck!

    6 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      Would you mind sharing a recipe for how to make them with agar?

      1. re: jvanderh

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/433298
        Back in 2007 this thread discussed and compared several methods and flavorings. The links from the OP are good sources.

        There is no doubt that using agar agar will produce a more tender marshmallow. The expectation that it will "hold up" or retain shape is why so many of us are deflated by using it. But I think it has its place in marshmallow making.

        I've decided that this base recipe is my favorite (so far):
        http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/...

        1. re: HillJ

          Oprah didn't work, and all the other links are gelatin. I've never seen a working vegan marshmallow recipe, so I'd be interested to try yours.

          1. re: jvanderh

            Homemade Marshmallows with Agar Flakes
            1 2/3 cups sugar
            ½ cup water
            2 T. agar flakes
            2 large egg whites
            Pinch of cream of tartar
            3 T. egg white powder
            In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, water and agar flakes, stirring well to dissolve. Stirring constantly, bring the liquid to a boil and then turn down the heat to low. Let the liquid simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is the consistency of a thick syrup. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
            Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs whites and the cream of tartar at a medium-high speed setting until the whites are fluffy and hold stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Gently fold in 1 T. of the egg powder.
            Carefully and in three additions, pour the warm syrup down the side of the mixing bowl into the egg whites, mixing well between each addition with the hand mixer at a medium speed setting. Add the remaining 2 T. egg powder and continue to mix at a medium speed until the mixture is glossy and stiff, about 2 more minutes.
            Spread the mixture into a non-stick 8” square pan. Place pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

            Sorry it took me so long to write it out for you, jvanderh.

            1. re: jvanderh

              http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2011/07/...
              And David L. offers several variations including two vegan versions if you follow the blog post to the end of the page. DB never lets me down.

              1. re: HillJ

                No problem. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it up!

      2. my first thought would be the lack of beating. The beating is what creates the light and airy texture, so if you cut that in half of course they would be dense and heavy. Bigger bowl next time!

        4 Replies
        1. re: thimes

          True, thimes. Bigger bowl or if you are restricted by the size of your mixer, smaller batch (half the recipe) if you are happy with the overall recipe.

          1. re: HillJ

            Thimes, HillJ, I am sure you are both right. I'll try the bigger bowl, and just keep on beating unless my mixer starts smoking. haha..?

            Also I noticed my cookbook said "overcooking makes marshmallows tough" and there's some question as to where "firm ball stage" actually starts and stops... like there's this gap of 4 degrees between the end of soft ball (234 - 240) and the start of firm ball (244 - 250). Maybe in this case I overcooked 'em. I'll try bigger bowl, longer beating, and only cook to maybe 242 degrees.

            1. re: LittleBee

              you may have overcooked them, but I'd only change one thing at a time first - and I'd start with making sure you can beat them the full amount of time. The sugar mixture will get a lot more voluminous as you beat and that is a good thing - so either a bigger bowl or a smaller batch first would be my suggestion!

              I love home made marshmallows - so don't give up on them. Once you get it they aren't that hard to do - can be flavored any way you like - and are tons of fun.

              1. re: thimes

                good point, Thimes. One thing at a time... easy does it. Thanks!

        2. Sixty-five years ago when I was an American kid living in South America my mother often made marshmallows from this recipe so I know it is tried and true. I see there is less gelatin here--- the proportions are different: MARSHMALLOWS: "Boil 4 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups water to long thread stage. Soak 4 tablespoons plain gelatin in 1 cup water for 10 minutes. Pour hot syrup over soaked gelatin and beat until cool (she used an electric mixer). Wipe a big rectangular cake pan with a damp cloth and sprinkle with toasted finely grated coconut. Pour in candy and cover top with the coconut too. Let set 24 hours. Cut in squares using scissors dipped in hot water. Roll in more coconut." I remember that the stuff got whiter and creamier the longer she beat it. Also that the marshallows were not tough but very tender. I guess if you don't like coconut you could use powdered sugar?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Querencia

            Powdered sugar mixed with cornstarch is the usual

          2. We had the author of a book on marshamallows come into the CHOW Test Kitchen, and here's her recipe: http://www.chow.com/recipes/30297-cla.... She also did a demonstration of it on video: http://www.chow.com/food-news/107950/....

            She mentioned to me that she would never recommend a hand mixer as it's not powerful enough to beat for that long- she only uses a stand mixer. At a quick glance at your recipe, it might just be too large of a batch for the hand mixer also.

            3 Replies
            1. re: christinegallary

              I had trouble running the video you linked, christinegallary. Could you pls. double check if it's working properly. Thanks.

              1. re: HillJ

                HillJ, I just clicked on it and had no trouble, so perhaps a retry will work for you.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Thank you, I tried again this morning and it worked fine. I think the problem was my video setting.

            2. I have made marshmallows many times. I am careful of over beating because I have noticed that if they are beaten too much they tighten up kind of like whipped cream will tighten up if over beaten. Knowing when to stop beating is a function of experience. I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and it generally doesn't take 15 minutes.

              1. I think you may have cooked the sugar/corn syrup/water mixture to too high of a temperature. The recipe that I used said to cook the mixture until it reached 240 degrees F. I live at 9242 ft. in elevation and as my mixture was cooking, I thought of how water boils at high altitude at a lower temperature than at sea level...do I quickly googled it and learned that for each 1000 ft. that yu are above sea level, you need to lower your temperature when making candy by 2 degrees F. So at this altitude, that meant 221.5 degrees F. Instead of 240. Perhaps you don't live at sea level either...? Also, I found that my cheap candy thermometer registered a lower temperature than my $80 electronic thermometer (from King Arthur Flour.com), so if I had really waited for my cheap candy thermometer to reach 221.5' that would have actually been even hotter.