Just when you think, “what could be more fun than doing nothing on the weekend” along comes some food blogger to tell you to make marshmallows. Yes, I know, you can buy marshmallows at WalMart or the gas station but there is nothing like the satisfaction (and an odd comfort) of making these at home and realizing you can replicate the texture and and lightness of the industrially manufactured confection from your childhood—but they taste way better. (You can even delight in squashing these between your fingers and making “ghost gum” –anyone know what I’m talking about?)
Homemade marshmallows are more beautiful and delicate than the packaged masses. They also have real flavour since you can add fragrant vanilla beans (or puréed fruit) and drop in a subtle hint of food colouring to help match any baby shower, bridal shower, man-cave christening or home campfire you’re planning on hosting.
And making them successfully in your own kitchen provides the same kind of fun and slight MAGIC as when you pop your own popcorn in a pot on the stove.
I made these from a recipe in Chris Nuttall-Smith’s Man Vs Marshmallow piece in the Globe and Mail recently (which tells you about the origins of mallows and has a great tip about calibrating your candy thermometre). Just imagine the thrill of making sea-salt caramel marshmallows or a butter-rum version. Which I have not yet done but plan on using to kick bake sale ass at Felix’s school (rum makes the pre-schoolers feel like pirates, fun!!)
Yes, I am going to keep showing you pictures until I wear you down. Believe me, I can keep going, this is the age of endless digital photography.
Finally then, here’s the recipe as adapted from Marshmallow Madness! by Shauna Sever. The book includes a tonne of amazing variations on the species–including the buttered rum variety mentioned above. And BTW, this looks lengthy, but it’s not complicated, just detailed to make sure yours turn out perfect. Just dive in, you’ll be fine. YOU MUST HAVE A STAND-MIXER FOR THIS RECIPE.
If you want some coaching, here’s the video version of How to Make Marshmallows.
Classic Vanilla Marshmallows
One important tip—don’t trust the measurements on the package of your powdered gelatin. Measure the powder yourself with a teaspoon.
Have everything ready before you start as once the syrup reaches the right temperature you have to be ready with all the other ingredients in the mixer.
1 cup icing sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch
4 ½ teaspoons unflavoured powdered gelatin
½ cup cold water
¾ cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup (divided)
¼ cup water
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Make the coating first. You’ll have enough to use for a couple batches. Sift the icing sugar and cornstarch into a bowl and whisk together. You want to eliminate any lumps. Set aside.
- Spray an 8” X 8” inch pan with no-stick spray. Set aside.
- Now bloom your gelatin. Measure a 1/2 cup cold water into a small bowl and sprinkle the powdered gelatin on top. Whisk it well and let sit for at least 5 minutes to soften.
- Meanwhile for the mallow mixture, measure the sugar, ¼ cup corn syrup, water and salt into a small saucepan. Set over high heat and bring to a boil until it reaches 240 °F on a candy thermometer. Stir occasionally.
- While the syrup is heating, pour the remaining ¼ cup corn syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer. Microwave the gelatin for 30 seconds to ensure it’s fully melted and add that to the mixer bowl. With the whisk attachment on set the mixer to low and keep it running.
TIP: Don’t forget to keep checking your syrup—make sure your thermometer doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan when testing the temperature. And remember that boiling syrup is extremely hot so take care to keep it from splattering.
- Once the temperature hits 240 °F slowly pour the sugar mixture into the mixing bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat 5 minutes. Then increase speed to medium-high and beat another 5 minutes. Finally, pause to add the vanilla and beat for 1-2 minutes on the highest speed until white and thickening.
- The marshmallow mixture will be very fluffy-about triple the volume and will now start to set very quickly. Pour into the greased 8 x 8 dish and smooth with an offset or spatula.
- Sprinkle the top generously with the marshmallow coating and let the marshmallow set in a cool, dry place for 6 hours before cutting.
- Once set, run a knife around the edge of the dish and flip the mellow slab onto a surface dusted with the marshmallow coating.
10. Now just slice the marshmallows into cubes (or cut using scissors or cookie cutters sprayed with non-stick spray).
11. Toss them in the coating to cover all the sticky sides and serve.
12. Store in a dry cool place and just redust the marshmallows if they get a little moist.
VARIATION: You can also coat your marshmallows with finely ground nuts like pistachio, shredded coconut or graham crumbs.
COLOUR: Drop in a bit of food colouring just before you beat the marshmallow for the final 2 minutes.