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Strawberry Marshmallows for Valentine's Day

You know, we don't usually do much for Valentine's Day anymore. My son is too old to bring home lovely macaroni and glitter crafts and to be honest, every day is Valentine's Day with Shack.
Shut up, I mean it.

Anyway, this year, our school's bake sale to raise money for Free the Children is today. Since it's Valentine's Day it was a nice opportunity to make something themey again. They get plenty of delicious muffins, cupcakes, brownies and cookies so I try to do something a bit different every year.

The marshmallows I made a few years back sold out instantly so the time to make them again was here. To make them more valentiney, I thought they should be pink so I added strawberry pulp to the actual marshmallow and used some freeze dried strawberries for dusting. Using a heart shaped cookie cutter did enter my mind but there is too much waste and the fact that they are pink and I am packaging them up in heart covered little bags is enough.

Afraid that they might not taste strongly of berry, I was almost tempted to get some strawberry extract but I was too lazy to actually go out and source such a thing but they didn't need it one bit. These things are so good - the berry taste is unmistakable and they were also just pink enough to make me happy - I don't like to use food colouring, especially for kid's treats.

I found a good recipe on Brownie Points and used that with just a few tiny changes. I have used a number of recipes that all vary slightly but this one is a keeper. It's simple, it makes a huge batch and the texture is really soft and squishy.

Strawberry Marshmallows
adapted from Brownie Points

4 envelopes of gelatin
1/2 cup strawberry puree
1 1/4 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
powdered sugar and freeze dried strawberries

Spray your pans with vegetable oil cooking spray. I used a 9x13" and a 8" square pan.
Then, line the pans with saran wrap so that there is overhang on all four sides. Spray the saran wrap with a bit of cooking oil spray as well.

Puree some strawberries and push through a fine meshed strainer to get all the seeds out until you have 1/2 cup of seedless puree. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the strawberry puree, gelatin and 1/2 cup of the water and leave it to bloom while you make the syrup.

In a heavy saucepan, mix up the sugar, the corn syrup, the remaining 3/4 cup of water and salt. Bring to a boil and cook til it reaches the soft ball stage, about 240F

Start the mixer on slow and CAREFULLY pour the hot sugar mixture into the mixer. When it's all in, turn the heat up to med high for a few minutes and then turn it to high and let it go for about 10 to 12 more minutes. It should be glossy and thick and a bit stiff.

Pour this quickly into your prepared pans. Use an oiled rubber spatula to smooth it all out and make sure its nice and even.

Cover both pans with either foil or saran wrap and leave it to sit on the counter at least 10 hours or even overnight. You should spray the top of the marshmallows with the veg oil spray just in case the foil comes in contact with the marshmallows and sticks to it, not that this happened to me when something fell out of the cupboard and onto the top of the marshmallow pan.

When its time to cut them, pull both slabs out, using the overhanging saran wrap to get them out and turn them upside down on a cutting board that you have sprinkled generously with icing sugar and peel off the saran wrap.

Pulse the freeze dried strawberries in a food processor (I use my handy dandy bullet) and mix that powder with icing sugar, put it in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Take a good, long knife and spray it with cooking spray and use that to cut  your slab of marshmallow into the desired sized squares. You will have to keep the knife oiled or it will stick and make a mess.

Put the squares into the bowl with the icing sugar/dried strawberry powder and toss to coat, making sure that all sides are completely coated. Shake off excess and put aside and continue until they are all done.
They will keep in a covered container for a week or so but if you are going to eat them out of hand, I like them within the first few days. Even if they get a bit stale, they are great in a hot chocolate or in a s'mores or something like that. Use your imagination.

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