There may be some things more pleasurable than biting into a homemade marshmallow so fresh that it’s like nibbling on a cloud, but we can’t think of many. Dunked in cocoa, toasted over a fire, or secretly eaten too close to dinner, these marshmallows are a treat worth savoring.
Once you know this basic recipe, it’s easy to adapting it to whatever ingredients or flavors you’re in the mood for. You can add cocoa powder for chocolate marshmallows or use different extracts to change up the flavor. You can press chocolate chips or other candy pieces into the finished marshmallows and coat then them with anything from pumpkin pie spices to toasted coconut.
Marshmallows really aren’t that hard to make at home, but they do require planning and patience. Once you add the sugar base to the gelatin, the clock is ticking because the gelatin starts to set immediately. Make sure that you have all your equipment and ingredients ready to go before you start so that you can easily go from one step to the next.
This is also one of those recipes that gets easier with practice - so go forth and make marshmallows!
Fluffy Vanilla Marshmallows
Gratefully adapted from Marshmallows by Eileen Talanian
Makes roughly 100 marshmallows, depending on size
9x13 baking pan or other flat container
4-quart sauce pan (slightly larger or smaller is ok)
candy thermometer - one that can clip to the side of the sauce pan
standing mixer with a wire whisk attachment - hand mixers just aren’t strong enough, unfortunately
stiff spatula or spoon (as opposed to a rubbery, flexible one)
Optional: Pastry brush
3 tablespoons (usually 3 packets) unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup sugar cane syrup or corn syrup
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Spray your baking pan with cooking spray. Use a paper towel to wipe the pan and make sure there’s a thin film on every surface, corner, and side. Make sure the rest of your equipment ready to go.
To bloom the gelatin, measure the gelatin powder into your mixer bowl. Combine the water and vanilla in a measuring cup and pour this over the gelatin while whisking gently with a fork. Continuing stirring until the gelatin reaches the consistency of apple sauce and there are no more large lumps. Set the bowl back in your standing mixer.
Combine the water, corn syrup, salt, and sugar in a 4-quart sauce pan. Place this over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. As it’s coming to a bowl, occasionally dip your pastry brush in water and brush down the sides of the pot. This prevents sugar crystals from falling into the liquid, which can cause the syrup to crystallize. If you don’t have a pastry brush, cover the pan for 2 minutes once the mixture is at a boil so the steam can wash the sides.
Do not stir the sugar once it has come to a boil or it may crystallize.
Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the sauce pan and continue boiling until the sugar mixture reaches 250°F. Take the pan off the heat and remove the thermometer.
With the mixer on medium speed, gently and carefully pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin. The mixture may foam up - just go slowly and carefully. When all the syrup has been added, cover the bowl with a cloth and increase the speed to high (the cloth protects from splatters). Whip for 10-12 minutes, until it looks like glossy meringue.
When you’re finished mixing, lower the speed to medium and lift the whisk partway out of the bowl so it spins off as much marshmallow mix as possible. Using your stiff spatula, scrape the marshmallow mixture into the pan. This stuff is very thick and sticky, so don’t worry about getting every last bit out of the bowl. Just get as much as you can.
Wet your fingers and smooth the top so it’s even. Let the mixture sit out uncovered for 12-15 hours to set and cure.
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a bowl.
Sprinkle the top of the cured marshmallows with powdered sugar mix and turn them out onto your work surface. Use a spatula to pry them out of the pan if necessary. Sprinkle more powdered sugar mixture over the top.
Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the marshmallows into squares. It helps to dip your knife in water every few cuts. Toss each square in the powdered sugar mix so all the sides are evenly coated.
Marshmallows will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks. Leftover marshmallow coating can be stored in a sealed container indefinitely.
(Images: Emma Christensen)