Sometimes, life becomes repetitive. Life falls into a lull as everyday's actions become ones that are repeated from day to day, week to week, month to month. The same classes, the same homework, the same food…it seems like everything is staying the same even if it's all constantly changing. I feel like I've fallen into a lull of sorts. My weeks follow a schedule, and they stay pretty close to that schedule. I go to class, I tutor, I do homework, I help out with the clubs I'm involved in, and I attend sorority events. None of it's bad, just repeated. It used to be my baking that kept me out of the lull. With each repeated class, I would create a new, original recipe. My baking kept me from falling into a solemn, repetitive existence.
At school, though, baking's tough. A constantly dirty kitchen that's wildly unappealing to work in, along with having to lug my things down to the kitchen whenever I want to bake, along with a lack of dishwasher creates for rather unsavory conditions. Baking is my thing, and here, without it…I became subject to the lull. Today, while I was driving in Tacoma with the rain beating down in steady droplets, as it typically does here in Western Washington, I made a decision. No, I will not become that person. I'm young, full of passion and motivation, and I'm going to go after what I want. I refuse to be a person who cycles through life, going through each motion that's expected of an 18-year-old college student. Now now, I'm not saying I'm going to go off the map and move to Antartica to join an iceberg climbing team (mostly cause I don't think that exists), but I do want to do new things.
I want to go to new places. I have a car, why not go explore Washington? I want to take classes that have nothing to do with my major, just to see if I like it. I want to get all dolled up to go class, just because it makes me feel good. I want to make friends with someone I didn't think I would ever be friends with. I want to be that person who randomly starts talking to you in the line at the grocery store. I want to do the things I've been scared to do, go to places I've never heard of, and do the things I've never even considered doing. I want to honor my commitments, maintain my GPA and continue to be active in the community, but I also want to branch out. And I will. And as for baking? Obviously I'll never abandon that post. Bakings here to stay, and I promise, when it comes to baking, I'll always take risks. You may have noticed I like making marshmallows. Excuse me, love making marshmallows. I haven't posted a lot of the ones I've made just because I feel like I'm in the minority of marshmallow making love. Most people find it an unnecessary hassle of something you can buy at the store.
Don't even get me started on the homemade vs. store bought marshmallow debate…but besides that, where have you ever seen cake batter flavored marshmallows? Where?! Nowhere. However…you can make them yourself. And that is something I highly encourage. I was terrified these wouldn't turn out right, just because adding powder to marshmallow batter seemed a little weird, but it worked perfectly! The flavor was dead on, and the consistency remained light, fluffy, delicious, and way better than anything you can buy at the grocery store. Plus, it has sprinkles. Sprinkles make everything better!
So, my advice for the day? Throw caution into the wind, and try something new, like making cake batter mar
- 12 sheets gelatin*
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup white or yellow cake mix
- 1/4 cup rainbow colored sprinkles
- Gel or powdered food color, optional
- Pinch of salt
- 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting
Grease an 9×13-inch pan with shortening, using a paper towel to rub it lightly and evenly onto the bottom, sides and edges of the pan. Set aside.
Put the gelatin sheets into a medium microwave-safe bowl and fill it with very cold water, adding a few ice cubes to keep it cold. Let the sheets soak for about 10 minutes.
Place the sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan and stir together. Clip a candy thermometer onto the pan, and place it over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, stirring the mixture frequently–you are looking for it to eventually hit a temperature of 235-240 degrees (soft ball stage).
Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1/2 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. By this point, the gelatin sheets should be very soft–drain them well and give them a quick wringing out, and place them back in the microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until the gelatin is completely melted, about 30 seconds. Turn the mixer on low, and very slowly pour the melted gelatin into the corn syrup. Keep the mixer running while you check the sugar syrup.
Once the syrup reaches 235-240 degrees, pull it from the heat. Carefully transfer the syrup to a large, heatproof measuring cup or a similar vessel with a spout for easy pouring. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the gelatin mixture. When all the syrup has been added, crank the speed up to medium-high and let it go for about 6 to 7 minutes–the mixture should turn white and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, as much food coloring as desired (if using. I used “Rose” gel food coloring by Wilton, about an 1/8 teaspoon), and salt and increase the speed to its highest setting for 1 more minute. Sift in half of the cake mix, and turn the mixer on low to let it combine. Once incorporated, sift in the other half and mix in. Add in about half of the sprinkles and combine. Don't stir too much – you don't want the colors of the sprinkles to streak.
Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula spritzed with a bit of cooking spray to nudge it into the corners and smooth the top. Usually, they settle themselves pretty well and I don’t have to spread them much. Tap the pan on the counter a few time to get rid of air bubbles. Sprinkle the rest of the sprinkles evenly over the top of the marshmallow. Sift confectioners’ sugar evenly generously over the top. Let sit for about 6 hours or until firm.
Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan and invert it onto a confectioners’ sugar-dusted work surface. Dust the marshmallow slab with more confectioner’s sugar and cut into whatever size pieces you wish (a pizza cutter works great here). Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more confectioners’ sugar, patting off the excess. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
*This recipe calls for gelatin sheets, and I strongly recommend them for best results, but you can use unflavored powdered gelatin instead. I’ve definitely used it quite a few times in this recipe! Great resources for converting the gelatin amounts from sheets to powder in recipes can be found here and here.
Yields 4-6 dozen marshmallows, depending on how you cut them.
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking