Sunday, December 30, 2007

Home appreciation

Russell sat at the breakfast table munching banana bread and reading the Sunday Times.

I was treated to a view of the headline in the business section, one of those gloom-and-doom predictions about "home appreciation." The writer was predicting a slow year ahead, with home prices up for grabs.

"Home appreciation," I mused aloud. "Appreciating the comforts of our homes would be much more pleasant."

And I've been thinking about that off and on all day.

How blessed I am to have a warm and cosy home, the perfume of vegetable soup simmering atop the stove and a party in the works for tomorrow night. All the home comforts I treasure so. I could feel myself slipping into the nesting mode. Again.

So you can see how I couldn't resist the opportunity to make a batch of homemade marshmallows to float atop those dark chocolate cocoas we've been drinking for breakfast and midnight snacks lately.

Here's the recipe, in case you want to rejoice in domestic bliss for yourself. It's surprisingly failproof and easy, courtesy of Epicurious.com.


Homemade Marshmallows

Servings: Makes about 96 marshmallows.

Ingredients
about 1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hot water (about 115°F.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites*
1 teaspoon vanilla

*if egg safety is a problem in your area, substitute powdered egg whites reconstituted according to manufacturer's instructions
Preparation
Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners' sugar.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F., about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. In a large bowl with cleaned beaters beat whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and sift 1/4 cup confectioners― sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up 1 corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and let drop onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly 1-inch cubes. Sift remaining confectioners' sugar into a large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing to evenly coat. Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.

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