Two extremely weird things about Quebec: the first is, everyone moves on July 1. Literally, thousands of renters pack everything up and switch apartments.
There is a collective flurry of unpacking then, the second weird thing: everyone goes on vacation together during the two-week construction holiday at the end of July.
Most people head to one of Quebec’s gorgeous nature parks for a camping / fishing/ outdoor vacation. Quebecers have a deep, primal love for nature, and heading out into the woods each year is not just pleasant, but somehow essential.
Central to this outdoor experience is roasting marshmallows over a flickering campfire, with the stars twinkling overhead and loons cooing on the lake in the distance.
You can always buy your marshmallows – Jet Puffs are my favourite store-bought variety – but you can also make them. They are super fun to make, but you do need an electric or stand mixer, and where it says DO NOT STIR, well…. don’t stir, OK?
- 7 teaspoons gelatin (about 2 1/2 packets)
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup cold water divided into two ½ cup measures
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- Dusting Powder: ½ cup icing sugar, ¼ cup corn starch
- Optional: 2 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks
Preparing the Gelatin
Dissolve the gelatin in ½ cup of cold water in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and allow to bloom, about 10 minutes.
Preparing the Sugar Syrup
Put the other ½ cup cold water into a pot with the 2 cups of sugar. Gently swirl the pan to mix the sugar and water together, then cover with a lid, so that no steam can escape. Heat over medium-high heat until the syrup comes to a boil. Leave the lid on and DO NOT STIR.
Let the syrup cook for 3 minutes without lifting the lid, then check to see if there are still remaining sugar crystals on the sides of the saucepan. If so, cover the pot and boil another minute. DO NOT STIR.
Remove the pot lid. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot so that the probe is immersed in the syrup, but not touching the bottom of the pan. DO NOT STIR the syrup with the thermometer as it can cause the syrup to crystallize.
Cook until syrup reaches the firm-ball stage, between 242°F – 246°F, about 7-8 minutes.
Remove syrup from heat and let sit for a couple of minutes.
Whisking Everything Together
Put the mixer on low and pour the sugar syrup into the gelatin, letting it run slowly down the side of the bowl so it slowly mixes in with the gelatin.
Add the salt, then increase the speed and whisk on high for 3 – 5 minutes until the marshmallows have tripled in size and are pulling away from the bowl in strings. Don’t mix for longer than 5 minutes as they can dry out.
Add the vanilla at the end and whipped egg whites, if using.
Grease an 8 x 8-inch pan with cold butter (don’t use cooking spray – it tastes weird).
Scrape the marshmallows into the prepared pan, and then sieve a layer of dusting powder over the marshmallows.
Allow to set for at least 6 hours, then remove marshmallow from the pan and set on a work surface covered with more dusting powder. Cut into squares with a knife or kitchen scissors coated with cold butter.
Put the rest of the dusting powder into the bottom of a large bowl, and as you cut the marshmallows, throw them into the dusting powder to coat.
Hopefully all your marshmallows won’t get eaten before you get to your campsite – but if they do – just head over the wildly overpriced campground store and buy yourself some Jet Puffs.
Adapted from The Flavour Bender