Updated: Aug 27, 2019
Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the recipes.
When you hear gelatin, you probably think of red, green, or some other color snack-pack that you ate at lunch as a kid. But when food scientists hear gelatin, they may think of marshmallows, taffy, or pudding.
So, what is gelatin? Well, surprise--it's a PROTEIN! This protein is found in the collagen found in the bones and skin of animals. You make gelatin at home whenever you make homemade stock. When the stock sits in the fridge, it gels and congeals, thanks to gelatin. When you buy gelatin packets in a grocery store, you are getting the dehydrated version. You can buy gelatin in sheets or powdered, but it must always be rehydrated, or bloomed, before you use it. Most recipes call for you soak the gelatin in cold water for several minutes before adding to panna cotta, marshmallows, or cakes. If you want to get even more facts on gelatin, check out Amazing Food Made Easy.
Gelatin foams are fun, but they are hard to work with. I got bored one day and decided to make Megan Mitchell's Homemade Swirled Marshmallows. This recipe is easy to follow, but I would not recommend cutting it in half. I didn't want to make the whole amount because I was just playing, but the marshmallows came out flat and soft--but not the good kind of soft. I could feel the sugar granules in my mouth, and they were this weird, flabby constancy. Not the stiff, chewy marshmallows I was hoping for. So, when it comes to making marshmallows, here are tips:
Watch the temperature of the sugar. It is SUPER important that the sugar reaches the right temperature, or the marshmallows won't solidify correctly, and/or you may get sugar crystals in the final product.
BEAT THE SUGAR AND GELATIN!!! I used a stand mixer, and I was so scared to over beat the mix, that I under beat them. When they dried, they were not firm, and they deflated overnight. Don't be afraid to beat them for a long time. The recipe I used said to beat for 10 minutes on high. DO IT! It'll make all the difference.
Amazing Food Made Easy
Here are some recipes that use gelatin:
Epicurious's Panna Cotta
Serious Eats' Basic Chicken Stock (the gelatin makes the stock richer)
The Food Lab's All-American Beef Stew (trust me, it makes all the difference)