Thursday, February 17, 2011
Scotchmallow Part Deux: Homemade Heart Candies
After making a scotchmallow inspired cupcake, it just seemed like the obvious next step to make the actual candies.
Like the See's version, these candies are made with a layer of homemade marshmallow, caramel, and then coated in dark chocolate. Also like the current (or belated, more accurately stated) holiday theme showcased in scotchmallow candies at See's stores, I made mine heart shaped.
The trickiest part about these is tempering the chocolate, which I did not completely succeed at. You'll need a chocolate thermometer (to measure temperatures lower than 100 degrees), not just a candy thermometer. "Tempering" chocolate means bringing it up to the right temperature, than back down to a lower temperature, so that the cocoa butter molecules structure correctly and the chocolate dries with a good "snap" and sheen.
However, if you buy good quality chocolate in bar form, you may be able to get away with not tempering at all since the bar is already tempered. You just cannot melt the chocolate at any higher temperature than 91 degrees (had I known this definitively prior to starting my candy making, I would have tried this first). See this article from Fine Cooking online for more details. If you don't want to mess with melting real chocolate at all, you can use a better quality melting chocolate too (such as Mercken's wafers).
There are also many steps involved: making the marshmallow, making the caramel, cutting both into shapes, stacking, and dipping. I would suggest making the mallow and the caramel one day and cutting/assembling/dipping the next day.
Making the marshmallow was simple, but I would highly suggest you watch this episode of Alton Brown's "Good Eats" on YouTube prior to starting- it's chock full of great tips for marshmallow making and it's also pretty darn funny.
Surprisingly, cutting the pan of marshmallow and caramel into heart shapes was pretty simple, but you will need to make sure that your caramel is soft enough.
For the homemade marshmallow:
3 packages unflavored gelatin
(Tip: One box of Knox Gelatin contains 4 packets- you will only need 3)
1 cup ice cold water, divided
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pan as follows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 12 by 17-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours.
Cutting out the mallow hearts!
For the caramel:
I used the trusty caramel recipe featured on Giver's Log once again, however, note that you'll need to make 1 1/2 the recipe to make enough caramel. Also, I noticed that making a larger batch helped my temperature and consistency to be more accurate, as I think the other times I've made caramel, the thermometer may have touched the bottom of the pan due to their not being enough volume to take up space. Once my caramel reached 240 degrees (soft ball stage), I took it off of the heat and poured into another 12x17 baking sheet. Again, you'll need to test out your thermometer to see what temperature is the magic number for you.
Make sure you line the baking sheet with PLENTY of parchment paper. Otherwise, your hearts will be very difficult to get out without entirely squishing them.
heavy, 4-qt sauce pan
parchment paper to line pan
12x17 baking sheet
Ingredients: (adjusted to make 1.5x the original recipe)
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 cup half-and-half
3 1/2 cup brown sugar (14.5 oz.)
1 tbsp. vanilla
For cooking method, please see above Giver's Log.
To assemble the heart scotchmallows: (yields 50-60 heart candies)
Once you have made both the marshmallow and caramel and they have cooled for several hours, or overnight, use small-medium sized heart cookie cutter to cut shapes from the pan. Cut the marshmallows first and try to cut as close together as possible so as to create as many hearts as possible.
HINT: Don't worry if the top of your marshmallow is somewhat bumpy- it's very difficult to get the pan of mallow perfectly smooth since it solidifies so quickly and is so very sticky. The bumps on the top of the marshmallows will not matter in the end because the caramel hearts will be stacked on top of them.
After your marshmallows are cut, prepare the chocolate for dipping and dip the one of the sides of the hearts in chocolate (this will make it easier to dip the sides and tops later after the caramel layer is added).
While the chocolate is hardening, cut the pan of caramel with the heart cookie cutter.
After the whole pan is cut and the chocolate on the marshmallows has hardened, flip the marshmallow heart so that the undipped layer faces up. Add a layer of caramel on top of the non-dipped side. Stack all of the candies first (the marshmallow and caramel layers will naturally form together enough to dip them since they're each so sticky).
After all of the hearts are stacks, dip the top and sides of the hearts in chocolate, shaking off and smoothing away excess chocolate, if necessary.
Allow to cool and harden on parchment paper.
Enjoy all of them for yourself and/or gift to loved ones and friends. These candies will keep for about 3 weeks.