There was a period of time where every time I saw Theresa she was greeted with “taste/do/look at this, it will change your life!” I think she was always a little bit skeptical. Some of those things I’ve forgotten (obviously her skepticism was warranted in these few instances); some of them I still stand by (go see Brandi Carlile live in concert, it will change your life). But the one I think we both still 100% agree on is this: homemade marshmallows will change your life.
I don’t really remember why I decided to make them the first time, except that Molly said to. Theresa introduced you to Molly a couple weeks ago in her What’s For Dinner post. She really is one of our favorites. When she wrote about them she talked about how her then boyfriend (now husband) made them for her, and it was one of the things that tipped the scale pretty heavily in favor of marrying the guy. I’d probably marry the guy too if that’s what I came home to.
It’s hard to describe how good they are. How perfect they are just barely set, rolled in powdered sugar, so soft and velvety and squeezing just the right amount between your fingers before you pop them in your mouth… or what it’s like to have them melt into a perfect marshmallow cream down into your cup of hot chocolate… or, maybe best of all, toasted to golden perfection over a campfire where the sugar on the outside caramelizes and gets a little bit crunchy, barely holding in the melted center waiting to ooze out (just be careful, they get meltier than your grocery store marshmallow and fall off the stick if you don’t watch it). It’s a “you have to see/taste it to believe it” kind of situation. But once you have, you might never buy a bag of regular marshmallows again.
There’s a candy thermometer involved, but don’t let that deter you. These are really pretty simple. Let some gelatin dissolve in a mixer bowl while you cook some sugar and corn syrup together. Combine the sugar mixture to the gelatin and beat and beat and beat them, letting the mixer do most of the work of whipping them into billowy white peaks of marshmallow cream before pouring them into a pan to set. A stand mixer will give you the best results but I’ve used just a hand mixer before without a problem. Just be sure to keep mixing them for the full 15 minutes.
We’re giving these as gifts this year paired with little jars of hot chocolate. Feel free to do the same, or pick up some gourmet chocolates and graham crackers and wrap up a s’mores kit. Or just keep them all to yourself. Choose your own marshmallow adventure.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
• Nonstick vegetable oil spray
• 1 cup cold water
• 3 1/4 oz envelopes unflavored gelatin
• 2 cups sugar
• 2/3 cup light corn syrup
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup potato starch
• 1/4 cup powdered sugar
Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil and coat the foil with nonstick spray.
Pour 1/2 cup of the cold water into the bowl of your mixer and sprinkle in the gelatin. Let it sit while you make the sugar mixture allowing the gelatin to absorb the water.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, and remaining 1/2 cup of cold water in a medium saucepan. Over medium-low heat stir until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, increase the heat to bring the syrup to a boil. Boil without stirring until the syrup reaches 240ºF, about 8 minutes.
Using your whisk attachment, and with your mixer running at low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Slowly increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick and stiff, about 15 minutes (I usually just set a timer and let it go). Add the vanilla and beat another 30 seconds or so to incorporate.
Scrape the marshmallows into the prepared pan. Use a wet spatula to smooth the top. Let it sit out at room temperature for at least 4 hours, until marshmallows are firm.
Whisk together the powdered sugar and potato starch in a bowl. Dust a large cutting board with the powdered sugar mixture and turn the marshmallows out onto it. Dust the top of the marshmallow slab with some of the powdered sugar mixture, then cut into pieces (coat your knife in nonstick spray if it starts to get too sticky), tossing the pieces into the powdered sugar to coat each one. I generally cut about 48 marshmallows/pan, but adjust the size to your liking.
This recipe lends itself to a certain amount of variation. Try playing with different flavors. I’ve exchanged the vanilla extract for coconut with delicious results. For the holiday season try trading the vanilla for 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract. It makes a perfect peppermint hot chocolate. Or cut them into different shapes using a cookie cutter coated with nonstick spray.
This year we did a cinnamon-sugar version. Before you toss the marshmallows in the powdered sugar, toss them in a cinnamon and granulated sugar (a teaspoon or two of cinnamon per cup of sugar, depending on how cinnamony you want them). I like the texture the bit of granulated sugar gives and the hint of spicy cinnamon. After you coat them with cinnamon/sugar, still toss them in the powdered sugar/potato starch as that will keep them from getting sticky.