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Marshmallows!

This community's been sort of quiet for a while, so here's a post to wake it up again. :) I've been having more fun over the last couple of months making homemade marshmallows! I've seen "gourmet" marshmallows sold for a dollar apiece or more...these are fun and cheap and good, and may end up being part of some folks' holiday gifts this year. Package a few with some good hot chocolate mix and possibly a nifty mug or two, and voila, instant gift basket.


Marshmallows are magically simple. You don't even need a candy thermometer with this recipe. What you do need is a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. (You could probably do it with a handheld mixer, but your arm would get tired.)

Homemade Marshmallows
(the basic recipe)

Material Components:
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin (.75 oz.)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Kinetic Incantation:
Line 9 x 9-inch pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil it. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and boil hard for 1 minute.

Pour the boiling syrup into soaked gelatin and turn on the mixer, using the whisk attachment, to high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, add in the vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.

Scrape marshmallow into the prepared pan and spread evenly (Lightly greasing your hands and the spatula helps a lot here). Take another piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap and press lightly on top of the marshmallow, creating a seal. Let mixture sit for a few hours, or overnight, until cooled and firmly set.

In a shallow dish, combine equal parts cornstarch and confectioners' sugar. Remove marshmallow from pan and cut into equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef's knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners' sugar mixture.

Store in an airtight container.


Cook's Notes:
This recipe lends itself to experimentation. I've tried replacing the tablespoon of vanilla extract with the seeds scraped from a vanilla bean, which worked well. The vanilla flavor was more subtle, but definitely there, and the little specks add a gourmet touch. I tried adding a half-teaspoon of espresso powder, which was very, very subtle, a bare hint of coffee...next time I'd increase that a bit, but coffee-flavored marshmallows definitely work.

In terms of what to roll them in, I also tried a half-and-half mixture of cornstarch and hot chocolate mix. That worked pretty well. I haven't tried adding chocolate flavor directly to the marshmallows yet. I am also thinking of trying maple flavor.

These are best in the first couple of weeks after you make them, after that they begin to dry out. Still tasty, just not quite as pillowy soft.

Oh, and in terms of shape, you can make mini marshmallows too. I took a baking sheet, covered it with plastic wrap, and sprayed it with Pam. Then I took a plastic Ziploc bag, cut off one corner, and put on a cake-decorating icing tip holder, but I didn't attach any of the metal tips, so I just had a fat tube at the end of the bag. I spooned some warm marshmallow into the bag and used that to make long lines of marshmallow down the length of the baking sheet. Once I had a pan full, I carefully covered that with another Pam-sprayed sheet of plastic wrap and left it to set. Then it was a piece of cake to snip those into mini marshmallows with my (Pam-sprayed) scissors.

One last caveat: you'll note that I'm pretty much spraying everything that will touch the marshmallows with Pam. That's because this stuff is very, very sticky before you roll it in the cornstarch/sugar mix. Also, as Alton noted in his marshmallow episode, be careful in that one step where you move the boiling sugar syrup to the mixer. It's a kind of "kitchen napalm," as he put it, and will stick to and possibly burn whatever it touches. Be safe and have fun!

I made these last week:

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Baking, Cooking, Crafting from a geek POV

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