The fight began in our house this weekend. Artificial or real tree? Multi-colored or white lights? My mother and I have been wanting a real tree for years...but, alas, my father wins out every year. He says real trees are a fire hazard. I'm the one who wants white lights. We've got white twinkle lights every where except on the tree...I'm just trying to go for a little consistency here. Oh well! Each year, the outcome is the same: artificial tree with multi-colored lights. The argument has almost become tradition in itself!
While my mom and my little brother decorated the tree, I was busy in the kitchen making marshmallows. I only make marshmallows at Christmas...they're a special treat best served at the holidays. Put 'em in hot cocoa, roast 'em over a fire, schmear some peanut butter on 'em...they're soft, they're squishy, they're a happy thing. If you decide to make them, make sure you are using a sturdy stand mixer, like KitchenAid. It takes some power to whip these things. Also, feel free to vary the extract. Try lemon, strawberry, almond, mint, etc., in place of the vanilla. One year I used peppermint extract and a few drops of red food coloring. They tasted delicious!
Martha Stewart's Homemade Marshmallows
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin (approx. 2 1/2 TBLS)
1 cup cold water, divided
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting
1. Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let it stand for 30 minutes.
2. Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup of water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.
3. Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.
4. With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.
5. Generously dust an 8 x 12-inch glass baking pan with confectioners' sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar; let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out.
6. Slice into desired size. Use powdered sugar to coat knife to make cutting easier. Dredge marshmallows in powdered sugar. Knock off excess.
7. Store in an airtight container.