I think you’re all aware that I adore marshmallows. And I had been wanting to make my own for quite a while, but I was a bit intimidated by the possibility of sticky, gooey strands of sugar attacking my entire kitchen.
It turns out my worries were unnecessary. It’s not that marshmallow making is a perfectly clean, mess-free affair. But it was actually less messy than making frosted sugar cookies. So be not afraid, marshmallow lovers.
They’re also delicious, but duh. If packaged marshmallows are delicious, I’m sure you can imagine how much more fantastic homemade are. And you can control the flavor! You do need a candy thermometer (we bought this one for $4.99) and a stand mixer, though.
Making marshmallows was one of my 2012 resolutions, and I finally made them a few days before the end of the year. Since I was at home with an easily accessible supply of “peppermint snow” (aka crushed candy canes), I decided to stud the marshmallows with those.
It wasn’t a bad idea, honestly, but I think I should have removed the marshmallows from the baking dish after they dried, because the candy cane bits started getting a bit gooey. You should not have this problem if you just use a combination of powdered sugar and corn starch to coat the marshmallows. Or if you eat them all/remove them all from the dish the first day.
I tinted mine a bit pink, because… well, it’s me.
The messiest part of this is pressing down the marshmallow fluff into a dish, but it will be way less messy if you wet your hands first. May seem weird, but it works.
I used vanilla extract to flavor these (I would have used a bit of peppermint extract, too, but I didn’t have any available), but I think they’d be even better with the scraped-out seeds from a vanilla bean, or some other kind of extract (lemon? almond? rose water?) or alcohol. I’m thinking bourbon, obviously.
These would be perfect in hot chocolate. And if it’s even close to as cold where you are as where I am (or where most people I know are, for that matter), hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows is exactly what you need.
Marshmallows (Makes 20+ marshmallows, adapted from Alton Brown and Barefoot Contessa)
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice water (divided into 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Place the gelatin in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can do this without a stand mixer, but I don’t suggest it) fitted with the whisk attachment. Pour in 1/2 cup of the ice water. Allow to sit/dissolve.
Meanwhile, pour the other 1/2 cup of ice water, the sugar, corn syrup and salt into a medium-sized heavy saucepan. Put the saucepan on the burner and turn the heat to medium-high, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Then, turn the heat to high and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan (if you’re more coordinated than me). Cook about 7-9 more minutes, until temperature reaches 240F, then remove from heat.
Turn the stand mixer (with whisk attachment) on low speed, and slowly add the sugar syrup to the bowl while the mixer is running. After all the syrup has been added, turn the mixer to high and beat for about 15 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fluffy. Add vanilla or other flavoring (and any food coloring you might be using) and mix until combined.
Stir together the corn starch and powdered sugar, then sprinkle or sift part of the mixture (I also used some candy cane pieces) to coat the bottom of a 8 inch by 12 inch (or 9 x 13, depending on what you have) nonmetal pan. Scoop the marshmallow mixture into the pan and press/smooth it down with wet hands. Sprinkle more of the corn starch/powdered sugar mix over the top (and more candy cane pieces, if using). You will probably have some left over.
Allow marshmallows to sit, uncovered, in a cool place (like a cupboard or pantry) for 6-8 hours, until set. Cut using a pizza wheel (it’s easier if you dust it with some of the powdered sugar mixture).
**Note: It may be easier if you turn the whole mixture out onto a cutting board dusted with the powdered sugar mixture, then cut them and dust the sides of the cut marshmallows with the powdered sugar/corn starch mixture. They’ll taste good either way, but that will make them a tiny bit easier to handle. I just got too excited about the prospect of marshmallows to continue following the directions at that point.