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