Homemade Marshmallows

vanilla bean marshmallows

I. Freaking. Love. Marshmallows.

I like them however I get them – from a bag around a campfire, in my Lucky Charms or Count Chocula cereal, dropped and melty in my hot cocoa, dipped in chocolate, eaten right out of hand, whenever, wherever. They’re chewy, light, and fun, and they’re one of the few candies I actually get excited about.

Now, although I said I’ll eat them however I get them, marshmallows, like most other foods, are better homemade. They’re softer, melt and stay functional in hot cocoa (by this, I mean they’re still around in your drink, and not completely disintegrated), and don’t have that weird rough-ish exterior that many manufactured marshmallows have. Plus, they’re a candy canvas that take on different flavors well. Think liqueurs, extracts, spices, and the like. Totally. Worth it.

Husband and I just used the final three Frangelico marshmallows from my last batch in our cocoa a couple of nights ago. That’s right, friends – Frangelico marshmallows. And they were just as amazing as you can imagine (I promise a recipe later!). This meant that it was high time to start a new batch for a new season. Yay!

However, I won’t lie to you: making marshmallows at home can be a bit of a messy, sticky business. The first time I made marshmallows, I used a hand mixer, and managed to get some of the sticky “batter” stuck inside of the holes where the beaters go! Not a fun mess to clean. They weren’t pretty, either (a bunch of lopsided, mismatched cubes), but man, they were delicious. Also, fair warning: this recipe has you working with hot sugar, which is no joke when it gets on your skin. Be super careful and watch your mixture like a hawk.

What I’m saying is, marshmallows may take a bit of practice to get looking pretty, but even an ugly marshmallow that makes a mess is going to be tasty. I recommend using the following equipment for success:

  1. A stand mixer with a whisk attachment, lest ye fall into the same messy fate I did with the hand mixer. Mixing by hand is not really an option, as you need a good deal of high speed to get enough air into the batter while it’s still warm.
  2. Candy thermometer: These are cheap and wonderful, and you don’t have to deal with any sugar testing in cold water. But it’s entirely possible to do this without one.
  3. Parchment paper: Did I mention that these are sticky? Pretty sure I did. Parchment paper makes life so much easier, especially when removing the marshmallow mass for cutting.

Sound good? Let’s marshmallow.

Homemade Marshmallows

These keep fresh for weeks, and even months if you’re okay with them being a bit stale, which matters not when they melt in a cup of hot cocoa.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 3/4 c light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 4 packages (about 3 tbsp, or 1 oz) powdered gelatin
  • 1/4-1/2 c powdered sugar
  • neutral oil for greasing, such as vegetable or canola

Directions:

  1. In a small heat-safe bowl, combine the gelatin with 1/2 c cold water, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, and liberally grease the parchment with neutral oil. Grease a spatula and set aside.
  3. In a 3-4 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, honey, and 1/2 c water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. (Watch this carefully, as the mixture can bubble up and over the pan within seconds.) Continue to simmer until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F on a candy thermometer, or firm ball stage. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to 220 degrees F.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 c water in a small saucepan until boiling, then place the bowl with the gelatin on top of the saucepan. Whisk carefully until the gelatin mixture turns to liquid. Pour the gelatin liquid into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.
  5. With the mixer running on low, carefully pour the cooled sugar mixture down the side of the mixing bowl (seriously – you don’t want this stuff splashed on you or anywhere in your kitchen). Gradually increase the mixing speed to high, and mix until the batter holds stiff peaks. (What does this mean? When you dip your whisk into the batter and pull it away, there are definite spikes or “peaks” of batter that hold their shape. In the case of this batter, it will be drippy at first, but will still hold a peak when it’s done dripping.)
  6. Pour the marshmallow batter into the prepared greased baking pan using the greased spatula. Allow to sit for 4-6 hours at room temperature, uncovered (or, in my case, covered lightly with a kitchen towel), until set. You will know it has set when it pulls away easily from the parchment paper and holds its shape even after being pull or poked (bounces back).
  7. Sprinkle about 2 tbsp of the powdered sugar onto a cutting board. Put the remaining powdered sugar in a large zip-top bag or sealable container. Remove the marshmallow square from the baking dish, and turn upside-down onto the sugared cutting board. Using a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or sharp knife dipped in powdered sugar, cut the marshmallow square into cubes of desired size (I usually go with 1 1/2 inch cubes for regular-sized marshmallows). Place marshmallow cubes into prepared bag or container, making sure all sides are coated with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Store in a cool, dry place.

Variations:

  1. Vanilla Bean Marshmallows: Scrape the seeds from 1 vanilla bean and set aside. Add the scraped pod to the sugar mixture in Step 3, and remove the pod after the mixture has heated. Add seeds at the end of mixing in Step 5.
  2. Cocoa Marshmallows: What’s better than hot cocoa with marshmallows? Hot cocoa with chocolate marshmallows! Add 1/2 c cocoa powder (used Dutch processed for a milder flavor, if you wish) to the gelatin in the mixing bowl in Step 4. Add 1/4 c cocoa powder to the powdered sugar, and use for dusting.
  3. Matcha Marshmallows: Adds a mild grassiness that pairs well with chocolate. Add 3 tbsp matcha powder to the gelatin in the mixing bowl in Step 4. Add 1 tbsp matcha powder to the powdered sugar, and use for dusting.

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