I don’t remember the first time I had marshmallows. It was probably during a family camping trip to Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Tetons. I imagine my dad spearing a marshmallow with a whittled stick and helping me hold it over the campfire until it had turned to a soft golden brown. Oh so sweet and sticky – I can only guess how large a mess I made as I consumed one after another.
Homemade marshmallows? That’s a more recent and far more memorable discovery. During a vacation to Maui, Hawaii, in 2006, we stumbled upon a small restaurant overlooking the ocean in Lahina. After devouring a mahi mahi and avocado burger (one of many consumed over the next week) we ordered homemade marshmallows with chocolate fondue. I was in heaven, to say the least.
I’ve never thought about making marshmallows at home before. I didn’t even realize it was possible – I’m slow sometimes, what can I say. I don’t know what changed exactly but I was finally ready to give it a go. This recipe is adapted from Cooking for Engineers. I chose to start with an eggless recipe, but there are many other variations out there.
Marshmallows (approx. 40 large pieces)
3 tbs (21 g) gelatin
3/4 cups (180 mL) cold water, divided
2 cups (400 g) sugar (I use vanilla sugar for extra flavor)
2/3 cups (160 mL) corn syrup (I use light corn syrup)
1/4 tsp (1.5 g) salt
1 tbs (15 mL) vanilla extract
Grease a 9×13 pan and dust with powdered sugar. Set aide. Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in mixer bowl. Let bloom for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add 2 cups sugar, 2/3 cups corn syrup, and remaining 1/4 cup water in a pot. Bring mixture to a boil and, using a candy thermometer, allow the temperature to pass 250 °F (120°C).
Note: A stand mixer is far superior for this next part, though a handheld mixer will do. If you are using a handheld mixer, be sure to have a dish towel handy to control splattering.
Run mixer on lowest setting and slowly incorporate boiling sugar syrup. Add 1/4 tsp salt after the syrup and gelatin have fully mixed together. Increase the mixer speed being careful not to splatter yourself. The mixture will begin to whiten and fluff after a few minutes time. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and adjust the mixer speed to high. This is where I ran into trouble. As you can imagine, marshmallow goo is rather sticky. And it loves to crawl up the beaters. I kept picturing it enveloping the mixer, overtaking my arms, and finally encasing me in a cocoon of sorts. So I exaggerate… but I did manage to cover my counter tops, apron, and hair in marshmallow splatter. Lesson learned.
When the marshmallow has stopped increasing in size (it’s more of an “eye-balling” thing, as my mother would say – but expect 8-12 minutes of mixing), add 1 tbs vanilla extract. Once incorporated, stop the mixer and pour into the previously prepared pan. Smooth with a spatula (easier said than done) and set aside for at least 3 hours to cool.
Cover a cutting board or clean surface with powdered sugar and ease the marshmallow upside down out of the pan. Using a pizza cutter, slice marshmallows one row and then piece at a time, rolling each in powdered sugar until they are no longer sticky.
These marshmallows have been a big hit at my house. So far they’ve appeared in hot chocolate, s’mores, and bowls of ice cream. I have some more experimenting to do (flavors and coloring), but I’ve overcome my fear of making marshmallows!