May 29, 2013

Piña Colada Marshmallows

Do you ever just get an idea just stuck in your head that won't leave? And it just kind of sits there, rattling around inside your skull like it's a tangible thing until you do something about it?

That was me and these marshmallows.

I don't like piña coladas. I don't like coconut. I don't like rum. But the idea for these marshmallows would not leave me alone, no matter how many times I asked. I tried being polite. I tried being firm. I tried being mean. But it just kept poking at me. Lurking there just inside of my consciousness. Popping up whenever I went to bake something.

Honestly, I have less trouble with my characters, and it's usually a given that they'll find some way to rebel against me.
And the worst part was that I couldn't do anything about it, because the humidity was a killer. I wasn't going to try making marshmallows while the weather was so gross and wet and sticky. That, my friends, would have been a recipe for disaster.

But then, after 7 straight days of rain (I think I'm turning into a mushroom; it's still raining (as of when I wrote this on Tuesday)), the humidity finally cleared up, and I was able to get these marshmallows out of my head.

Not surprisingly, these are not my favorite. But I had so much fun styling them and rolling them in coconut and putting them in my pretty blue mason jars that I won from Kelli's Retro Kitchen Arts and using the little cocktail umbrellas I found in the dollar store, that I consider it an even trade. I also toasted the coconut, because I thought it would be prettier that way. :D
I also can't really speak to how much they taste like piña coladas since I don't drink piña coladas. They're sweet and cocnutty with a hint of pineappleishness. I also used a coconut bakery emulsion, which has a stronger and more complex flavor, but regular coconut extract would be fine. You don't really taste the rum, and I'm not sure if that's because I used clear Jamaican rum (it's the only kind I had, and I certainly wasn't going out to buy more), if it evaporated off, or a combination of the two. A splash of rum extract would fix you there, or skip it all together, using water in place of the rum, for a virgin version. If you want to be all inauthentic 'n stuff. :P

Piña Colada Marshmallows
Yield: Approx. 77 marshmallows

Approx. 4-6 oz. shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
2/3 cup rum, chilled*
3 packets unflavored gelatin
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup pineapple syrup**

1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. coconut extract or bakery emulsion
A few drops yellow food coloring (optional)
Non-stick cooking spray
Powdered sugar

If desired, toast the coconut: preheat the oven to 325
°F. Spread the coconut in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 5-10 minutes until lightly browned, stirring once midway through. Allow to cool completely.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add the chilled rum and gelatin and let soften. Spray a 7x11” baking dish with cooking spray, sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar, and spread an even layer of shredded coconut on top. Set aside.

In a LARGE saucepan, add the sugar, syrup, water, and salt. Heat on low, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Heat mixture to boiling. Let boil, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 240°F (the soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Start the mixer on low speed, and CAREFULLY add the syrup to the softened gelatin (please utilize a splatter shield, if available). Increase the speed to high, and whip until the mixture is white, fluffy, and tripled in size, about 10 minutes. Add the extract and food coloring, if using. Using a rubber spatula sprayed with cooking spray, spread the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle liberally with shredded coconut and press down lightly. Let sit uncovered 8 hours or overnight.

Dust a cutting board with powdered sugar. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter sprayed with cooking spray, cut the marshmallows into 1 inch squares. Toss in remaining coconut and serve.

NOTE: The sugar syrup is extremely hot and can be dangerous if not handled correctly. Use potholders and splatter shields when necessary, and always avoid distractions when making any kind of candy.

*Replace with cold water for a virgin version, adding rum extract if desired.

**I used the syrup from a can of diced pineapple in heavy syrup (combined with some light corn syrup because there wasn't quite enough for a full cup), but any sort of pineapple-flavored syrup (such as sno cone syrup) should work as well.

Recipe by Kim