Nothing amplifies something sweet like a bit of salt, a concept dessert blogger Heather Baird knows very well. Her new cookbook, Sea Salt Sweet, is an ode to that savory, slightly crunchy moment in every perfectly balanced dessert that means you’ve done your job well. Pillowy homemade marshmallows need nothing more than a thick coating of sweet toasty coconut (and a shot of bourbon for good luck) to achieve the ideal harmonious balance.
- Neutral-tasting nonstick cooking spray, for pan
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon (I like Wild Turkey)
- 5 teaspoons powdered unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
- 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- flake sea salt, optional
For the marshmallows
Prepare an 8-by-8-inch/20-by-20-centimeter baking pan by lightly spraying it with a neutral-tasting nonstick cooking spray.
For the gelatin base
Combine the cold water and bourbon in a small bowl; whisk in the gelatin and let stand until set.
For the sugar syrup
Stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup/80 grams of the corn syrup, 1/4 cup/60 milliliters of water, bourbon, and salt in a medium saucepan. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Place the saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches 240°F/115°C.
While you wait for the sugar syrup to come to a boil, heat the gelatin mixture in a microwave at 100 percent power for 30 seconds, or until the gelatin is liquefied. Pour the gelatin mixture into an electric mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of corn syrup to the bowl. Turn the mixer on low speed and keep it running.
When the sugar syrup reaches 240°F/115°C, remove it from the heat source and slowly pour it into the gelatin mixture in a thin stream. Increase the mixer speed to medium and, with a timer set, beat for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 5 to 7 more minutes, or until thick and opaque.
Spray a rubber spatula with the nonstick cooking spray.
When the mixture has tripled in volume, pour it into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the rubber spatula. Let stand until set, about 4 hours, or until the marshmallow is firm and spongy.
For the coating
Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Generously dredge a work surface with some of the mixture. Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Turn out the marshmallow onto the work surface. Cut the marshmallow slab into pieces roughly 1 1/2 inches/4 centimeters square.
Dredge each piece in the remaining confectioners’ sugar mixture.
Cover a work surface with nonstick kitchen paper, such as waxed paper or parchment paper.
Place the toasted coconut in a small bowl; set aside. Melt the chopped chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave at 100 percent power at 30-second intervals until it can be stirred smooth. Dip an end of each marshmallow in chocolate and then in the coconut; place it on the paper. Repeat with the remaining marshmallows. Sprinkle the chocolate-dipped end of each marshmallow with flake sea salt, if using. Allow the chocolate-dipped marshmallows to stand at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the chocolate is set.
Wrap the marshmallows in cellophane bags tied with raffia for a pretty gift, or display them in cupcake liners on a large serving tray when entertaining.
Store the marshmallows in an airtight container.
Toasting coconut is easy. Spread it in an even layer over an ungreased baking sheet (about 15 by 10 inches/38 by 25 centimeters) and bake for 8 minutes at 350°F/180°C, checking and stirring it often for even browning.