Once you get the hang of making homemade marshmallows, you’ll never want the packaged kind in your cup of cocoa again.
There is nothing like a fresh marshmallow made from scratch, pillowy and tender, flavored just the way you want it. The key to making these homemade confections is to prepare the sugar to the correct temperature, and then not to under- or over-beat the “fluff” mixture. Practicing this ILOC method makes perfect, so don’t give up if at first you don’t succeed. As the old adage goes, try and try again. You won’t regret it!
Equipment: measuring spoons; wet measuring cup; dry measuring cup; measuring spoons; small saucepan, candy thermometer; standing mixer or hand mixer; heatproof rubber spatula; 9x9 glass pan or silicone tray; sifter or miniature strainer
3 packages (¼-ounce each) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cool water, divided
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or the seeds of one vanilla bean*
confectioners' sugar, to sprinkle on top
1. Grease a 9 x 9 pan or silicone mold and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar to coat the pan as in “flouring a pan.” Set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the gelatin and ½ cup cool water. Mix briefly to combine; set aside.
3. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and ½ cup cool water in a small, deep saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer, which is the “soft ball” stage. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. With the mixer set on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase the speed to high, and whip until the mixture is very thick and fluffy, and has cooled to lukewarm, 3 to 10 minutes (stand mixer using the whisk attachment will work more quickly than a hand mixer with beaters). Add the vanilla towards the end of the mixing time.
5. Spread the marshmallow mixture into the greased pan. Moisten a rubber spatula with water to smooth and flatten the surface.
6. Sprinkle confectioners' sugar over the top and let sit for at least 4 hours (or better yet overnight), covered with plastic wrap after one hour, before cutting. Use a greased knife or cookie cutters dipped in confectioners’ sugar to make squares or other shapes. Dipping the knife or cutters in confectioner’s sugar helps reduce any stickiness.
7. Store marshmallows at room temperature, placed in a sealed container, the layers separated by waxed paper or parchment paper.
Makes approximately 4 dozen 1½-inch marshmallows.
* To make strawberry marshmallow, process 1 cup freeze dried strawberries to a powder and add it to the marshmallow mixture one minute before you finish beating it.
Use the Seeds but Save the Bean!
“Save the scraped vanilla bean and add it to milk you use to make your hot cocoa or hot chocolate; while the milk heats in the pan it will become scented and flavored with vanilla.”