Special of the Day: Candy and Confections Class

16 Oct Special of the Day: Candy and Confections Class

Double Vanilla Marshmallows

 I’ve been longing to take a cooking class at the San Francisco Cooking School ever since my University of Washington Tri Delta sorority sister friend Jodi Liano opened it in January of last year.  Taking a tour of the fabulous facility while I was in San Francisco for a conference last April whet my appetite even more.

When the chance came for my mom and me to get away to northern California this fall, I quickly checked the San Francisco Cooking School online schedule and signed us right up for the Candy and Confections class. What a treat it was to see Jodi again and enjoy an evening of playing with hot sugar with Kim Laidlaw, a cookbook author, editor, recipe developer, and baker.

Kim assured us that “It’s just sugar, you can always start over” which was comforting to replay in my head when we failed to position the candy thermometer all the way down in the boiling syrup and burned our first attempt. Oh, well, it didn’t take long to start over and get back on track!

Our three hour class afforded us an introductory tutorial on the various stages of sugar and basic technique when making candy before Kim set us free to make three different cornerstone recipes of our choice. By the end of the evening, my mom and I had made Vanilla Marshmallows, Mocha Almond Fudge and Lemon Lollipops.

Along the way, we learned many helpful tricks of the trade when working with hot sugar. If ever there’s a time for mise en place, this is it. It is essential to make sure you read through the entire recipe and get all of your ingredients and equipment out before starting. You’ll need a candy thermometer to test the sugar syrup, and one that clips on the side of your pan is even handier.

By far my favorite recipe was the pillowy soft homemade vanilla marshmallows that came together rather easily and tasted divine, so superior to what we grew up pulling from the package and roasting over the fire! Block out some time to try making them yourself, you’ll be glad you did.

                If you go:

San Francisco Cooking School

690 Van Ness Avenue

San Francisco, CA



Kim Laidlaw’s latest cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day,  will be available October 2013 wherever books are sold.

Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day http://www.amazon.com/Dessert-Day-Williams-Sonoma-recipes-every/dp/161628434X

Have some fun playing with hot sugar in this week’s Special of the Day: Candy and Confections Class and Kim Laidlaw’s recipe for Double Vanilla Marshmallows. Enjoy!

Double Vanilla Marshmallows

Double Vanilla Marshmallows

Recipe by Kim Laidlaw

author of Dessert of the Day 

Cooking-oil spray

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup powdered sugar

2 envelopes (about 1½ tbsp) powdered unflavored gelatin

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

1¼ cups granulated sugar

2 tbsp light corn syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

½ vanilla bean pod, halved lengthwise and scraped

Lightly spray an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, sift together the cornstarch and powdered sugar. Using the sifter, dust the pan with half of the mixture, tilting the pan to coat the bottom and sides, leaving any excess in the bottom of the pan. Set the remaining cornstarch mixture aside.

Pour ½ cup (4 fl oz) cold water into the large bowl of a mixer. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the water, whisk to combine, then set aside to soften for 5 minutes. Add the salt and cream of tarter, fit the mixer with the whip attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer while you boil the sugar syrup.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, stir together ½ cup (4 fl oz) water, the granulated sugar, and the corn syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat, swirling the pan occasionally but not stirring, until the mixture reads 250°F on a candy thermometer (firm-ball stage), about 5 minutes.

Cook syrup mixture until it reaches 250 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Turn the mixer on to medium-low speed and carefully pour the sugar syrup into the gelatin mixture in a steady stream, aiming it between the inside of the bowl and the whisk. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and whip the mixture until it lightens and thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and vanilla bean scrapings (discard the pod), then beat until the mixing bowl is cool to the touch on the bottom, about 7 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the marshmallow mixture into the coated pan. Then, using an oiled palette knife or offset metal spatula, spread the mixture into an even layer. Let stand until a skin forms on the surface, about 1 hour, then dust with some of the reserved powdered sugar mixture. Let sit in a cool place until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

To cut, dust a piece of parchment with some of the remaining sugar mixture. Invert the marshmallow onto the parchment. Cut with a pizza cutter into small cubes. Toss the cut marshmallows in the bowl with the remaining powdered sugar mixture to coat. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.

NOTE: These make fairly thick marshmallows. If you want thinner marshmallows, use a 9-by-13-inch pan. Use small shaped cookie cutters to cut into shapes such as stars, hearts or circles.

©2013 Kim Laidlaw

Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at sydnegeorge@hotmail.com . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.

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