Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Guimauve Part Three: Gelatin Sheets

It's always fun to have food that you can get down and dirty with; the gelatin sheets that I brought home from France required squeezing out by hand, which made me feel that much more involved in the process of making guimauve. Perhaps not as satisfying as kneading bread or pounding turkey cutlets, but still a new way to get physical with food!

The gelatin sheets are unlike any other food ingredient I've used (but then again, isn't gelatin of any kind always a strange thing to work with?): translucent, almost brittlely stiff rectangles, criss-crossed with perforating indented lines. I first heard of them in Chocolate and Zucchini's guimauve recipe, and ever since have been nagged by the idea of gelatin sheets and what the lack of them was doing to my marshmallows.

Since I was able to pick some up in France at a grocery store, I put them to use on some guimauves after my return.  I found them easier to use than gelatin powder, since I did not have to worry about the amount of liquid I might be adding to the mixture; all I had to do was soak the sheets for a while in water, which made them become floppy and gelatinous, so I could squeeze them out together with my hand (the fun part!) and just add them as sheets to the syrup phase, when they dissolved.  The mystery to me is that the sheets hold their shape after they've been soaked, and that they don't fall apart when squeezed.  They kind of remind me of a softer version of pickled jellyfish, like the jellyfish appetizer at Chinese banquets.

In the end, the result was not significantly different from the Knox-gelatin marshmallows, but the simplicity of the gelatin sheets reduced my anxiety over the proportions in the recipe.  This time I made green tea marshmallows flavored with powdered green tea dissolved in a few teaspoons of water (pictured above) and rose/almond flavor with 3 teaspoons of rose water and 1 teaspoon of almond extract, rolled in a combination of powdered sugar and ground almonds (below).  Both turned out to be nice and subtly flavored, so yum on both accounts!

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