Preserved sakura (cherry blossom) is a Japanese ingredient that is sparsely available at international markets here in the states. The essence and leaves that I use in this recipe can be ordered online. See blog post for links.
Soak the sakura leaves in a large bowl of cool water for a minimum of 2 hours, or overnight. The longer you soak the leaves the less salty they become. I enjoyed the faint saltiness of the leaves soaked for 2 hours, but taste-testing is a good idea (you may want to order an extra package of leaves for this purpose).
Cover a large work surface with parchment paper.
Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Sift 1/3 of the mixture over the parchment paper.
Have a large piping bag (15 to 18-inch) with a 1/2-inch diameter opening ready to hand.
For the gelatin base, whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and let set for 5 minutes.
For the sugar syrup, stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup of corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, pour remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave the gelatin base on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour it into the mixer bowl. Set the mixer speed to low and keep it running.
When the syrup reaches 240°F, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the sakura essence, strawberry flavoring and pink food color. The finished marshmallow will be opaque pink, fluffy and tripled in volume.
Quickly transfer the marshmallow to the large piping bag using a large rubber spatula. Pipe the marshmallow into 20 3 1/2-inch mounds on the prepared parchment paper. Let stand until set, about 1 hour. Dust the tops of the marshmallows with more of the classic coating before removing them from the parchment paper. At this point, the marshmallows can be stored in the remaining classic coating in an air-tight container until ready to serve.
30 minutes before serving, remove the sakura leaves from the water and pat them dry on paper towels. Wrap the leaves around the marshmallows and secure them with a bamboo pick. Arrange them in a single layer on a serving tray.
Sakura leaves will dry over time and become crumbly. Assemble these marshmallows just before serving.