A little while ago I wanted to wow my staff with a rich and delicious treat, and I just happenedto have an entire day to put something together. This was a very time-consuming project for me, mainly because it was my first attempt at making my own marshmallows (but so worth it!). I actually ruined the first batch and had to start over a second time - something that happens every once in a while just to humble me.
You can use any standard brownie recipe for a base, I used this one. I doubled it so I'd have lots, plus the marshmallow recipe makes more than enough for a double batch of brownies, plus hot chocolate later, plus snacks the next day...
While your brownies are cooling, lightly toast enough whole almonds to cover. I used lots because I love almonds, but you can go lighter than I did. When they are toasted and cooled, store them in an airtight container until you're ready to use them.
Start your marshmallows. The recipe I used is from Martha's website (of course), because I've had so much success with all of the recipes I've ever used from there. Please note, if you're making them for the first time like I was, I didn't have a candy thermometer, which is fine, because another way to judge whether they're to temperature is by the consistency of the mixture. But really, do yourself a favor and buy a candy thermometer if you're at all concerned about making a mess. 'Firm-ball stage' is what you're looking for, when the mixture has really come together and has formed a round, more solid, obvious ball, and when you get there, take it off the heat immediately, don't second guess yourself, because directly after 'firm-ball stage' is black smoking mess. Just saying.
To prepare the pan I used, I lined it with parchment that I cut to fit exactly (I had a bad feeling about getting the marshmallow out of the pan), and then dusted it heavily with confectioners' sugar - very important, the more you use, the easier it is to handle.
The instructions call for you to cut the finished marshmallows with a dry hot knife. This is very important. You need a very sharp knife, and literally between each slice, run the blade under hot water and dry with a towel. You could also use a cookie cutter to create fun shapes (snowflakes, hearts, whatever).
Once you've cut the marshmallows out, have a bowl of confectioners' sugar set aside to toss them in so that all sides are covered and won't stick together once you pack them up for storage.
The recipe doesn't say how long you can keep them, but I kept mine in an airtight container, refrigerated for nearly two weeks and they were just fine.
2 1/2 tbsp. unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let stand 30 minutes.
Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water in a heavy saucepan; place over low heat, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.
Not quite 'firm ball' stage.
Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 224 degrees (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.
With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.
Generously dust an 8-by-12-inch glass baking pan with confectioners' sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into the pan. Dust top with confectioners' sugar; wet your hands and pat it down to smooth. Dust with more confectioners' sugar; let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out.
Turn out onto a board; cut marshmallows with a dry hot knife into 1 1/2-inch squares, and dust with more confectioners' sugar.
To assemble your brownies:
Chop toasted almonds roughly. Place marshmallows on top of brownie and then sprinkle with prepared almonds.
Melt semisweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler and pour generously over top to coat. I used Callebaut chocolate, it's very important to use the best quality that you can find.
I let them harden before I cut them into individual portions, but next time I will cut them while they are still soft, on a couple of them, the chocolate cracked. It all tastes the same, but when giving them it's nice if they can be uniform and look perfect.