I love marshmallows. Love. Always have. I’m not sure why, but nevertheless, it’s the truth. When I was a kid I used to squish them into taffy in order to eat them, or jam my hot chocolate full of ’em, or just power them down.
Recently, I’ve discovered that marshmallows are ridiculously easy to make. Even better–because you’re in control (to some degree; I mean, you ARE working with boiling sugar so on some level you are completely beholden to the laws of physics, though I suppose you can make that argument for just about anything, and I digress), you can make them taste however you want. I’ve just started playing around with the flavoring but I’ve realized, the possibilities are pretty well endless.
The easiest recipe I’ve seen comes from Ina Garten; it doesn’t involve egg whites or potato starch or whatever the frig else. As I don’t care much for toasted coconut, I don’t use that part of her recipe and instead prep the pan with a shot of non-stick spray and a bed of equal parts powdered sugar and cornstarch (start with one quarter-cup of each, mix them together and you’re ready to go).
With that being said, I present…the marshmallow.
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Equal mix of corn starch and confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
First things first; start your gelatin…gelatating…in a mixing bowl with a half-cup of water. It will look vaguely like an alien life form has started gestating next to your stand mixer, but that’s all OK.
Honestly, that bubble in the middle kind of reminds me of the Little Rascals episode where Stymie makes the birthday cake, only sadly lacking the sound effects. Unforch, that’s not what this is. Anyway. You can let this sit while you make the syrup.
Put your sugar, corn syrup and salt in a pot with a half-cup water and a candy thermometer (which, of course, you will make sure doesn’t touch the bottom of your pot, because then your thermometer will measure the temperature of the bottom of the pot and not the liquid, and things will go south for you. Don’t mess with hot sugar, it’s like napalm). Start off at a medium heat until the sugar dissolves, and after that you can boost it higher to get the sugar boiling, until the syrup reaches a terrifying 240°.
The funny thing is, I really like making candy, despite the fact that I have a pretty healthy fear of boiling sugar. Maybe I am actually an adrenaline junkie and this is how I get my kicks. Skydiving, schmydiving; let me manhandle some boiling syrup. Moving on.
And so, once your sugar has reached 240°, pour it into the waiting gelatin. Start the beaters off slow until the sugar and gelatin incorporate (again, protecting yourself from hot syrup being blasted around your kitchen) and then crank the speed of your mixer and just… Let. It. Rip.
The recipe says to add vanilla in the last minute of mixing, and that it will thicken up first. How will you know when it’s thick and ready for the final hit of flavor? You’ll hear the beaters slow down and start to labor. And while the recipe calls for vanilla, you can absolutely put in anything you want. I used Bailey’s for this batch.
Oh yes, I went there.
And so, pour into your prepared pan. This one is 12×8; I think I’m going to experiment with a slightly smaller one next time, just for fun. Remember to spray anything you’re going to touch the marshmallows with–a spatula, your hands–with a shot of non-stick spray, because otherwise you’re going to goo up yourself and all your equipment just trying to wrestle it into a pan. Don’t let the candy win! You’re almost there. Top with more powdered sugar and cornstarch, and let set for a couple of hours.
The cool thing is, this will pull out in one piece once it’s set. You’ll be able to roll it up like a window shade and lift it right out. And then? Easy-peasy. Put it on a cutting board and have at it with a knife or whatever sharp instrument you prefer. (I like to use a pizza cutter.) Cut to whatever size you prefer, because it’s all about you and your intentions with your marshmallows. Coat them once more in powdered sugar/cornstarch, because you’ve got newly exposed, sticky sides and they will just clump together if you don’t. And then?
You’ll never look at marshmallows the same way, my friends. Enjoy!