Marshmallows 101


Christmas, Winter / Thursday, December 10th, 2009

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A few months ago, I promised a marshmallow tutorial –WITH PHOTOS! – to Laura and Karen, to prove that, YES!, they can make marshmallows at home. Big, soft, happy, puffy marshmallows that taste much better than any you’ll find at the grocery. Marshmallows that actually MELT in hot chocolate instead of bobbing around looking stupid.

Are you ready for the challenge?

Let’s go!

There are many marshmallow recipes out there, but my favorite comes from the December 1998 issue of “Gourmet.” It’s the only one I’ve tried where the marshmallows actually set and don’t get sticky in storage. And the marshmallows are yummy. Didn’t mean to leave that out.

So, let’s get started! First, the ingredients:

1-ingredients

Marshmallows

Adapted from Gourmet (December 1998)

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar (a.k.a. powdered sugar)
  • 3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup hot water (You want it to be around 115°F, which takes about 15 seconds in the microwave. )
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites (or meringue powder reconstituted according to the manufacturer’s directions)
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Go ahead and measure everything before we start. I’ll wait.

2-prep-pan

1. Lightly spray a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan with nonstick spray, and dust it (bottom and sides) with a little confectioner’s sugar. (If you don’t have a pan that size, it’s fine to use a 10-inch square pan.)

2. Grab the bowl of your standing electric mixer (or just a large bowl, if you’re using a hand mixer), and pour in the cold water. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water, and set it aside to soften.

3-cook-mixture

3. Set a large saucepan on the stove, and add the granulated sugar, corn syrup, hot water and salt. Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring it with a wooden spoon, until the sugar is dissolved.

4. Turn up the heat to medium, and bring the mixture to a boil (without stirring it!) until your candy thermometer reads 240°F. This will take about 12 minutes.

Tip: Yes, you MUST have a candy thermometer to do this. If you fear this particular tool, look for one like mine: the Taylor Classic Candy and Deep-Fry Analog Thermometer. It has a clip that attaches the thermometer to the pan, so you don’t have to worry about it sliding or splashing, and the red line on the face is extremely easy to read. Just look at it!

5. Take the pan off the stove, and pour the sugar mixture over the gelatin mixture from Step 2. Stir it until the gelatin is dissolved.

4-mixing-bowl2

6. Using an electric mixer (standing or hand-held), beat the mixture on high speed until it’s bright white, thick and nearly tripled in volume. (This will take about 6 minutes if you’re using a standing mixer or 10 minutes with a hand-held.)

7. Grab a separate bowl and a set of clean beaters or a whisk, and beat your egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks.

8. Add the egg whites and vanilla to the sugar mixture, and beat them until they’re just combined.

5-mix-in-pan

9. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan.

Tip: Don’t worry about trying to scrape out every last bit of marshmallow from the mixing bowl. Your spatula will start to stick and pull back strings of marshmallow, and then more strings, and it just won’t be pretty. Trust me.

6-dust-mix-in-pan

10. Sift 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar over the top of the marshmallow.

11. Pop the pan into the refrigerator, and let the mixture chill, uncovered, until it’s firm. This will take at least at least 3 hours, but you can leave it in the fridge for up to 24.

7-knife-along-edge

12. Take a thin knife, and run it around all four edges of the pan.

8-remove-from-pan

13. Turn the pan upside-down onto a large cutting board. Then lift up a corner of the pan, and use your fingers or a knife to loosen up the marshmallow block so that it falls onto the board.

9-measure

14. If the edges of the big marshmallow block are rough, you can trim them with a large knife. Then take the knife or a bench scraper, and cut the marshmallow into 1-inch cubes.

Tip: If you get bored with the cubes, you can also use a small biscuit cutter to cut rounds, or break out the cookie cutters and cut stars, snowflakes, Christmas trees and flying pigs.

10-toss-in-sugar

15. Sift the rest of your original cup of confectioner’s sugar into a large bowl, and add the marshmallows in batches, tossing them to evenly coat them in sugar.

Voila! Marshmallows!

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Once you get the hang of this recipe, you’ll be ready to experiment. Adding a few drops of peppermint here or fruit puree there. Rolling them in powdered sugar mixed with pumpkin pie spice. Measuring a few drops of baby blue, lavender or pink food coloring into the freshly whipped marshmallow.

But just wait ’til you taste your own soft, scrumptious, homemade marshmallows in a big mug of hot chocolate. Or dip them in caramel or chocolate to eat as candy. Or bag some to send as gifts over the holidays.

You will have faced your fear of marshmallow-making, tamed the mighty candy thermometer and worked that marshmallow mojo.

You glorious example of humanity.

Now, let’s make marshmallows!

52 thoughts on “Marshmallows 101

  1. this step by step instruction is awesome. Thank you so much for posting this! AND it doesn't look as complicated as some of the other recipes i've seen for homemade marshmallows have been. I plan on making these for Christmas Morning to replace my normal pot of coffee. I'm making hot chocolate from scratch, and topping it with these beauties.
    I even made myself a PowerPoint presentation so I could do it seamlessly. Thanks again for this. can't wait to try them!

    1. You made a PowerPoint presentation? That's a fantastic idea!

      I might have to stop by your house Christmas morning. Hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows sounds like perfection.

      1. ha ha ya, I was feeling crafty so I made a presentation. Your tutorial was awesome, and totally idiot proof, so I figured i'd help out my friends and do that for them so they could enjoy homemade marshmallows.
        and we will be having mimosas as well…so booze, chocolate, and food…that is perfection!

    2. well, I made these last night. my husband came home right as I was taking the beater off my mixer, so I handed it to him to put in the sink. He asked if it was ok to lick the beater, i said yes. I turn around, and he's got marshmallow all through his beard and on his face, and has pure childhood type bliss all over his face.
      He then proceeded to nag me all night if the marshmallows were done yet. I made him wait lol.
      recipe was super easy to do. and getting ingredients all ready prior to starting the process is so worth it!

  2. Rebecca.. I posted a link on my blog directed towards this post! Thanks for taking the time to show us the steps necessary.. Now we all can do this..the natural way an not the dreaded store ones anymore!

    ~Olivia

    1. Thanks! I hope the tutorial takes some of the mystery (and fear) out of the process. Making marshmallows is really a lot of fun, and they're so much better than the stale commercial ones. Thanks for helping spread the word!

  3. I love making marshmallows! They taste so much better then the packaged ones! This time of year I always add a little peppermint extract and red and green coloring! So festive!

  4. The best part of giant homemade marshmallows? You have to have a giant cup of hot cocoa to float them in :)

    thanks for this post, it's great!

  5. I have wondered how my pastry chef does these. I have a clumsy hand when it comes to pastries, but I shall have to give your tutorial a whirl and see how it goes.

    1. Marshmallows are wonderfully forgiving, and they take on "gourmet" flavors so well. Hope you have fun with the recipe and duly impress your pastry chef.

  6. You know what… I'm seriously going to try this. I may prove that I have no mojo whatsoever but I'm going to try. I need to get a stand mixer. A nice red one… would it being red make it make marshmallows better? I think it would. Okay, this is definitely on my "new house to do" list. Great tutorial! THANK YOUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!

  7. i have made marshmallows several times with a slightly different recipe :

    3 envelopes gelatin softened in 1/2 cup cold water in bowl of electric mixer
    syrup made on stove 1 and 1/2 cups sugar / 1 cup light corn syrup/ 1/2 cup cold water / 1/4 tsp salt / bring to 240 degrees on candy thermometer

    add slowly to gelatin at low speed then turn to high speed for 15 minutes

    add 1 TB vanilla , mix well, pour marshmallow into 9×13 glass pan liberally dusted with powdered sugar (and unsweetened cocoa) allow to dry over night uncovered

    i have never tried the egg recipe / but this recipe is delicious and melts in hot chocolate

  8. That looks wonderful. I would make them now except my stomach isn't exactly accepting food right now. Only thing I'd change is line the pan with parchment or something as extra insurance. I always seem to miss a spot when I spray.

  9. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I am making old-world marshmallows this week, with marshmallow root and gum tragacanth and no gelatin or corn syrup. Madness I know,
    but I feel empowered by your lesson and think it will translate!

  10. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I am making old-world marshmallows this week, with marshmallow root and gum tragacanth and no gelatin or corn syrup. Madness I know,
    but I feel empowered by your lesson and think it will translate!

  11. These look so good! I always thought marshmallows would require hours of work but these dont look too hard!
    FYI: We have the same granite counter haha!

    With love and cupcakes,
    CookTeen

    1. Ha! That's funny about the counter. Mine's the top of a small kitchen cart left by the people who used to live here. Perrrrfect for blog photos.

      Making the marshmallows is really fun. Let me know if you give it a shot!

  12. I'll try this version next time. I love making marshmallows for my big and little kid, but the only thing i've found is they make HORRIBLE rice krispie treats. . . . anyone know if these fare well for the treats before i sacrifice some cereal to them?

    1. You are not joking. I haven't tried these marshmallows in Rice Krispies Treats, so I don't know if they'll work, but homemade marshmallows I've tried in the past didn't. Wrong flavor, wrong texture. But they make mighty fine s'mores.

  13. i made marshmallows once before and they came out really well. thanks for reminding me that i should make some again.

  14. You make it look so darn easy. My KA died. Very expensive to fix or replace at this point. Hoping a good fairy brings me one and leaves it on my doorstep…at least that is the current plan. BUT, you say that I can use a hand held version of this KA mixer and be successful at this? I never thought that possible, or maybe I just never thought about it b/c I had a stand KA until recently. When I am up for sweets again, I am assuming it will return sometime in 2010 but not banking on it, I will try these with this most excellent tutorial. Thank you!

  15. […] So, it’s in the frame of mind that I’ve searched high & low (some in between) and  found a thorough and nicely illustrated article from Ezra Pound Cake titled Marshmallow 101. […]

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