I first got the idea in my head to make marshmallows when a friend of mine reported that her “cookie a day” update was for graham cracker cookies with a from-scratch marshmallow filling. How fabulous! Marshmallows from scratch? I went straight home and pulled up marthastewart.com and pulled up the marshmallow recipe. Then I Googled and compared Martha’s to a recipe on Cooks.com and then to a recipe blogged by Smitten Kitchen. Ultimately I found Martha’s recipe to be the most friendly to the lay baker, and was pleased with the ingredients she listed, minus the vanilla bean. Smitten Kitchen’s recipe called for egg whites and as we have an egg allergy in our house we try to avoid using eggs in too pure a form.
Here is my recipe as it ultimately was used:
3/4 ounce gelatin
1/2 cup cold water plus an additional 1/4 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup (which I used simply because I had some on hand, you can make them without as well)
pinch of salt
teaspoon of vanilla
vegetable oil (for greasing)
Once your ingredients have been added to the saucepan its time to heat it. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it boil hard for one minute.
While the sugar mixture is heating, visit the mixing bowl of gelatin and water. The kids will be shocked to discover its become a funny, spongy lump! Let them push on it and feel it and discuss.
After the sugar mixture has boiled for one minute pour it into the mixing bowl and commence mixing. This will take between ten and twelve minutes. Do not be afraid if using a hand mixer! This is a fun process and the minutes fly by. You can let it cool for a few minutes before mixing, but I jumped right in using a potholder on my left hand to hold the metal bowl. It cooled while I mixed and I let the kids help hold the mixer after a couple of minutes. The substance quickly starts to change from molten sugar into a joyful, puffy whiteness. Most of the directions I read said to add the salt and vanilla towards the end of mixing, but I was afraid I’d forget and added them right off the bat. Our marshmallows were wonderful so I don’t think it will make much difference.
***Seasoning Note: this is a great time to add other flavors or coloring. For example: orange extract and food coloring to match for orange cream marshmallows, or a lavender extract would be amazing! And there you are, you've got gourmet marshmallows you can claim as your own.***
Once your mixture has thickened, set the mixer aside and pull out the oil again. Oil a spatula (and here I went ahead and oiled my hands as well) and use the spatula to scrape the stuff into the already oiled and sugared 9×9 inch pan. You can leave the top of the mixture gloppy if you want, that kind of home-made texture is fun, but you could also use the oiled spatula to smooth the top of the marshmallow mix in the pan. Next oil a piece of saran wrap and cover the marshmallows and set aside for two hours. I needed to get on with dinner, so I actually put mine in the fridge overnight (otherwise we get ants) and that worked just fine for us.
Clean up was a blast. I gave each kid something to lick then sent them sticky and sugar crazed to play in the tub to get clean. All marshmallow residue wipes off utensils easily with warm, soapy water.
When your marshmallows have set, take an oiled knife, I used an eight inch chefs knife, to separate the marshmallow from the sides of the pan. (You have to oil everything or it will stick like crazy. If you have non-stick spray that may be safer to use on the knife than applying oil by hand.) Next oil your cutting surface. I used a plastic cutting board. Although you oiled and sugared the pan the mallow mixture may still cling. Have no fear. Oil your hand lightly and pull the fluff out and lie it on the cutting surface. Now, sprinkle the top of your marshmallow with powdered sugar. This will reduce stickage the way you use flour when kneading bread. Then either wash the hand you’ll be holding the knife in or use a washcloth for gripping the handle, and start to slice through the marshmallow. Here I got smart. If you press firmly down on the knife you can pull the marshmallow up and away from it. It will come away in a clean tear.
***Holiday Note*** If its a certain season, say Valentine's day, use oiled heart shaped cookie cutters to cut out your marshmallows!***