I have just finished my 3rd batch of marshmallows, and I would like to share some of the little tips that I learned along the way. Hopefully, they will be of some assistance to new marshmallow makers!
I have been using recipes from Eileen Talanian's Marshmallows book. I just noticed that she has posted in this thread! It's a terrific book, full of many flavour ideas, and I highly recommend it!
The first batch I made was Tahitian vanilla bean. I used the seeds from one bean and some extra vanilla extract, and added that to the bloom. I wasn't crazy about this batch. The flavour was a bit strange to me - perhaps it's the difference in flavour and fragrance between Tahitian and Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. I dusted this batch with corn flour. The texture of this batch was not to my liking. I thought I may have overwhipped it, but at that point I wasn't sure. I definitely had to scrape the mixture into the pan as it was very thick, and it held its shape and didn't settle completely flat, so the top wasn't level. These mallows were a bit too firm and chewy for my liking. I prefer mallows which melt in the mouth.
The second and third batches were total successes. I used Boiron puree to make passion fruit mallows. This time, I whipped the mixture (in my Kitchenaid) until it was fluffy but still quite soft. Getting it into the pan was simply a matter of pouring it out (still had to scrape the bowl), and it settled in the pan completely flat without any cajoling. These mallows had exactly the texture and flavour I was after. Very bright passion fruit flavour, and tender soft mallows which still held their shape after cutting. These ones were coated in potato starch.
Two weeks after the second batch, the leftover passion fruit mallows are still soft and flavourful. They're stored in a ziplock bag.
Some tips on cutting the mallows:
I spoon some starch onto the surface of the mallow slab while it's still in the pan, then use the back of the spoon to spread it around the entire surface. Then I position a wooden chopping board over the top and carefully flip both over together. The mallow slab doesn't come out of the pan yet - I have to insert a finger into the corner of the now upside-down pan and coerce an end-section out, and then the rest of the slab will follow the weight of the freed end-section and slowly release from the pan. Then I cover the now top of the slab again with starch. Instead of oiling my knife, I coat it with starch between every cut, and I do this simply by running it through the excess starch that has accumulated on top of the slab or on the board. I get 60 mallows from a 9"x13" pan by cutting 10 short strips, and then cutting those strips into 6 pieces. I thoroughly coat each cut piece with starch, put them aside and let them sit for a while, then I lightly coat each piece again and then thoroughly but gently pat all 6 sides of each mallow to get as much starch off as possible. This is time-consuming, but I feel necessary.
One problem I have found with these soft and tender mallows is that they are more delicate and susceptible to heat-damage. I express posted a package of these as a gift cross country, and was told that the mallows, which had just been put into a ziplock bag (and a thin postage satchel, no other protection), had melted somewhat and had formed one BIG marshmallow! Admittedly, there was a heatwave going on over there, but it's still something to be mindful of.
BTW, I use Davis-brand gelatin, which is manufactured in New Zealand, and it's not vegan but it is a Halal product.