If you love marshmallows as much as my family does, then you'll definitely want to try this recipe. I have always wanted to try making homemade marshmallows, but have shied away because it seemed difficult. What on earth are these light, airy and springy mysterious puffs made of anyways? How could I possibly emulate that texture at home?
Every year around this time, I start to compile all of our holiday baking recipe packets, and every year our marshmallow recipe comes across my desk. I always convince myself that this is the year I'm going to make marshmallows, but I have been saying that for several years now. I finally committed to make them, and I'm so glad I did... it was definitely not as scary as I thought it was going to be. I would even say that they were pretty simple. With a few easy-to-find ingredients and some basic pastry tools, you'll be on your way to making these iconic holiday confections.
So, what are they made of? Marshmallows are comprised of Italian meringue and gelatin. Let's take a closer look at these main components.
Italian meringue is the process of cooking sugar to soft-ball stage (238° F), and then whipping it with egg whites. Sugar goes through many different stages as it cooks to higher and higher temperatures, which includes thread, soft-ball, firm-ball, hard-ball, soft-crack, hard-crack and caramel. The type of candy you're making determines the stage to which you're going to cook your sugar. The way to track these stages involves using a candy thermometer... watching the dial as the temperature climbs is easy and foolproof.
Gelatin is most commonly used to set liquids into jellies. It's made from animal bones and collagen, with the most common source being pigskin. Don't let this turn you off… it's odorless and flavorless and is the key to setting up the Italian meringue. Gelatin comes in the form of powder or sheets, but we use sheets because they result in a clearer final product without having to worry about any undissolved granules. The sheets can be purchased right here at The Chopping Block, or at other specialty stores, as well as online.
To combine the two, pour the gelatin mixture (see the recipe below) into the sugar syrup once it has reached soft-ball stage. You'll then beat this mixture into the frothy egg whites.
While the sugar is cooking to soft-ball stage, start whipping your egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until frothy. Once the sugar has reached the correct temperature, slowly pour the hot syrup into the bowl of whipped egg whites while mixing on medium speed.
As you can probably imagine, this is a very tacky combination of ingredients. The way to prevent this from sticking everywhere is to use a mixture of powdered sugar and cornstarch to coat all of the marshmallow’s exterior surfaces (again, see recipe below for details). Full disclosure… be prepare to be covered in powdered sugar. Do not wear black while preparing these treats!
Once the marshmallows set up and were cut and tossed in the powdered sugar-cornstarch mixture, we whipped up some hot cocoa (using our TCB hot cocoa mix) so the kids would have something yummy to enjoy with the sweet, fluffy nuggets. As you can imagine, it was a huge success!
Learn how to make homemade marshmallows in our Deck the Halls: Impressive Holiday Confections class on December 7th, so you can impress your friends and family this holiday season. They are a delicious and inexpensive treat!
Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
Yield: Approximately 100 small candies
Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour, 30 minutes
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
40 grams sheet gelatin
3/4 cup cold water
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup water
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1. Sift the powdered sugar and cornstarch together and set aside.
2. Combine gelatin sheets and 3/4 cup cold water in a small saucepan, and allow to soak until the gelatin is “bloomed” and soft, about 5 minutes. Place over medium-low heat until the gelatin is completely melted.
3. Combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan. Cook on high heat with a candy thermometer until the temperature reaches 200° F. At this point, begin to beat the egg whites on high speed in a separate, large bowl.
4. Continue to cook the sugar syrup until the temperature reaches 238° F. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture. Wait until the foam subsides and then slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites while beating on high. Be careful to pour down the side of the bowl, away from the beaters.
5. Continue to beat the marshmallow mixture on high until it is very fluffy and it begins to hold a soft peak. It should be just slightly above room temperature. Add the vanilla bean paste, and mix until combined.
6. Sift a thin layer of the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture onto a parchment-lined sheet tray. Pour the marshmallow mixture onto the tray and gently smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Sift another thin layer of the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture on top. Allow to cool until set.
7. Remove the marshmallow from the pan and cut into cubes.
8. Toss the marshmallows in the remaining powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture to coat.
We also have plenty of treats to be had at our annual Holiday Treats Exchanges. You'll make and leave with 2 dozen confections that include a variety of cupcakes, bars, shaped butter cookies, classic holiday cookies, and truffles.