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Homemade Marshmallows made with Black Pepper and Smoked Stout
I used to be a Food Network junkie. It started when I first discovered Iron Chef. It only got worse when I learned that was only the tip of the food porn iceberg. I’m not sure what it was that drew me to cooking shows. I didn’t know how to cook, I had no interest in learning, and I didn’t like most of the dishes that I watched being prepared. Tomatoes? Gross. Fish? No way. I didn’t even like to try new things. My diet consisted almost entirely of teriyaki chicken and Kraft macaroni & cheese.
But then I moved to San Francisco for college and had to feed myself. Yikes!
Luckily, hours of watching other people cook had prepared me! Or so I thought. I confidently attempted several recipes from the Food Network, only to end up with dishes that looked nothing like what I had seen on television. Vegetables were mushy. Meat was overcooked. Bread was burnt. I even managed to give myself and my date salmonella poisoning once. Oops! Cooking turned out to be much more difficult than I had expected, but I was determined.
I turned to the one man I knew I could trust: Alton Brown. His show, Good Eats, was my favorite amd his recipes never failed me. They were among the few that I didn’t completely ruin during those first few years of learning how to cook. I watched rerun after rerun of Good Eats. I made the same dish multiple times to become comfortable with different techniques. I enrolled in a few cooking classes on-campus. And slowly, but surely, I learned my way around the kitchen.
My cooking skills have advanced quite a bit since then, but I continue to rely on many of Alton Brown’s recipes. They’re my tried and true go-to’s. The marshmallow recipe that follows, for example, is based on his and it turns out perfect every time.
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 4 hr 45 min
Yield: 1-1/2 pounds miniature
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup smoked stout, smoked porter, or belgian strong ale, flat and cold, divided
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon smoked sea salt or kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground fresh black pepper
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Sprinkle the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer with 1/2 cup of the beer. Have the whisk attachment ready.
In a medium saucepan, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup beer sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Place over medium high heat; cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes without touching. Remove cover and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240ºF, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once it hits this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Attach the whisk and turn the mixer the mixer on low-speed; while running, slowly pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once all of the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high. Continue to whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and black pepper during the last-minute of whisking.
While the mixture is whipping prepare the pan. Combine confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or coat with butter. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture; move around to completely cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
Once ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.