I love marshmallows.
I don't know what it is about them, but on a stick over a fire, in a s'more, in my hot chocolate, or stuffed into my face, I can't get enough (they're pretty good for softening brown sugar too).
Maybe it reminds me of my childhood, roasting marshmallows over the barbecue, or those rare occasions when my family and I had a cottage bonfire (including that one time my great uncle thought it'd be a good idea to pour lighter fluid over the fire ... woosh, no more leg hair for him). Either way, I don't think marshmallows should be pigeon-holed as a "summer thing" and should CERTAINLY not be limited to those white blobs on the shelf of the local grocery store.
I'm not sure what inspired me to try and make them myself but all I can really say is ... oh my goodness. Jet Puff who? They're super easy, fluffy, and majorly delicious! They're fantastic in a steaming cup of hot chocolate, or great for a sweet little snack on their own. If you're feeling generous, they make a cute gift packaged up with a jar of cocoa ... but I don't blame you if you decide to keep them all to yourself. Believe me, once you pop one of these sweet squares into your mouth, any feelings of generosity just seem to go right out the window ...
So whatever you decide to do with them, give this recipe a try! Oh, and don't be afraid to play around with flavours, food colourings, whatever strikes your fancy (I used Chambord in place of the vanilla to give them a delicious raspberry flavour). Just keep the Prada in the closet for these ones ... somehow I wound up with marshmallow all over me, and the wall. But hey, let's just chalk it up to my enthusiasm in the kitchen ;)
For Gelatin Bloom:
3 tablespoons unflavoured gelatin powder
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons extract or flavoured liqueur
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup corn syrup
Pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Instructions (adapted from theKitchn):
- Prepare pans and equipment: Spray the baking pan with cooking spray. Use a paper towel to wipe the pan and make sure there’s a thin film on every surface, corner, and side. Set it near your stand mixer, along with the kitchen towel and spatula. Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
- Bloom the gelatin: Measure the gelatin into the bowl of the stand mixer. Combine 1/2 cup cold water and vanilla in a measuring cup and pour this over the gelatin while whisking gently with a fork. Continue stirring until the gelatin reaches the consistency of apple sauce and there are no more large lumps. Set the bowl back in your standing mixer. (Alternatively, you can bloom the gelatin in a small cup and transfer it to the stand mixer.)
- Combine the ingredients for the syrup: Pour 3/4 cup water into the 4-quart saucepan. Pour the sugar, corn syrup, and salt on top. Do not stir.
- Bring the sugar syrup to a boil: Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring it to a full, rapid boil — all of the liquid should be boiling. As it is coming to a bowl, occasionally dip a pastry brush in water and brush down the sides of the pot. This prevents sugar crystals from falling into the liquid, which can cause the syrup to crystallize. If you don’t have a pastry brush, cover the pan for 2 minutes once the mixture is at a boil so the steam can wash the sides.
→ Do not stir the sugar once it has come to a boil or it may crystallize.
- Boil the syrup to 247°F to 250°F: Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the sauce pan and continue boiling until the sugar mixture reaches 247°F to 250°F. Take the pan off the heat and remove the thermometer.
- Whisk the hot syrup into the gelatin: Turn on your mixer to medium speed. Carefully pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin. The mixture may foam up — just go slowly and carefully.
- Increase speed and continue beating: When all the syrup has been added, cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and increase the speed to high (the cloth protects from splatters — the cloth can be removed after the marshmallows have started to thicken).
- Beat marshmallows until thick and glossy: Whip for about 10 minutes. At first, the liquid will be very clear and frothy. Around 3 minutes, the liquid will start looking opaque, white, and creamy, and the bowl will be very warm to the touch. Around 5 minutes, the marshmallow will start to increase in volume. You'll see thin, sticky strands between the whisk and the side of the bowl; these strands will start to thicken into ropes over the next 5 minutes. The marshmallow may not change visually in the last few minutes, but continue beating for the full 10 minutes. When you finish beating and stop the mixer, it will resemble soft-serve vanilla ice cream.
- Immediately transfer to the baking pan: With the mixer running on medium, slowly lift (or lower, depending on your model) the whisk out of the bowl so it spins off as much marshmallow as possible. Using your stiff spatula, scrape the marshmallow mixture into the pan. This stuff is very thick and sticky, so don’t worry about getting every last bit out of the bowl. Just get as much as you can.
- Let the marshmallows set for 6 to 24 hours: Spray your hands lightly with cooking oil and smooth the top of the marshmallow to make it as even as possible. Let the mixture sit uncovered and at room temperature for 6 to 24 hours to set and "cure."
- Prepare the marshmallow coating: Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a bowl.
- Remove the marshmallows from the pan: Sprinkle the top of the cured marshmallows with some of the powdered sugar mix and smooth it with your hand. Flip the block of marshmallows out onto your work surface. Use a spatula to pry them out of the pan if necessary. Sprinkle more powdered sugar mixture over the top of the marshmallow block.
- Cut the marshmallows: Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the marshmallows into squares. It helps to dip your knife in water every few cuts. (You can also cut the marshmallows with cookie cutters.)
- Coat each square with powdered sugar mix: Toss each square in the powdered sugar mix so all the sides are evenly coated.
- Store the marshmallows: Marshmallows will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks. Leftover marshmallow coating can be stored in a sealed container indefinitely.