Why would a person spend a whopping $1.59 for a bag of marshmallows, when they could spend $10.00 on supplies, and a very stressful hour of their life making marshmallows at home? Some people just don’t understand math.
Actually, I remember very clearly when I first saw a Martha Stewart recipe for marshmallows. It was the year 2000, and I was astonished. Marshmallows could be MADE? at HOME??? I sort of assumed they were created in a factory by elves and robots and required a flux capacitor and a bag of unfiltered unicorn tears. But this December, while combing through my cookbooks and the trusty ol’ library that is the Internet, I kept seeing homemade marshmallow recipes and photos. Since I was able to conquer one of my culinary fears this year (the soufflé) I decided to give marshmallows a shot. If everyone else can do it, why not?
I used Martha’s recipe. I figured since she first exposed me to the concept of at-home mallowing, I should follow her masterful lead. Here’s the recipe. I will follow it up with a few fun facts I learned along the way.
Makes 32 1-inch squares
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
4 packages (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons red food coloring
(4 mini candy canes crushed)
Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray; line bottom with parchment paper. Coat the parchment with cooking spray, and set pan aside. Put sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring; let mixture come to a boil. Raise heat to medium-high; cook until mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over 3/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture over a pan of simmering water; whisk constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in extract; set aside.
Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Whisk gelatin mixture into sugar mixture; with mixer running, gradually add to egg whites. Mix on high speed until very thick, 12 to 15 minutes.
Pour mixture into lined pan. Working quickly, drop dots of red food coloring across surface of marshmallow. Using a toothpick, swirl food coloring into marshmallow to create a marbleized effect. (OR, if your “marbleized look” gets muddled like mine did- grab those candy canes you have lying around, crush a few up and sprinkle them over the pink surface. Things will start to look better immediately.) Let marshmallow stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. Cut into squares.
What I learned about at-home marshmallowing is this:
Using four packs of gelatin will create a substance so sticky- so thick, you could plaster a house with it, and if you are not careful you may spend your afternoon scraping it off of your mixer, stovetop and floor.
Also, this recipe doesn’t mention how to CUT the marshmallows when you have finished the project and are left with one giant fluffy brick of candy. I used the sharpest serrated knife we own and really had to throw my weight into it. I’ve seen lots of people suggest rolling each marshmallow in powdered sugar after cutting it. That’s a great suggestion, and one I found AFTER I cut up all of my mallows and threw them into a giant container together. (Where they glued themselves together again...)
They toast and puff up just like the store-bought variety! We have been giving ours away as holiday gifts, but also making s’mores and drinking cocoa with ours and THAT has been a real treat.
Lastly, they get better with a little age. Maybe the powered sugar tip mentioned above would have helped with this, but letting them sit out in open air under a cheesecloth helps them dry out and develop a skin that feels more authentic.
Yes it’s kind of a mess. Yes, it’s stressful. But, yes, it’s worth it! Every jar of pink swirly marshmallows I’ve given away has been greeted with the same astonished look I had when I first read about this enchanting recipe. Plus the taste really is spectacular. With just the little bit of peppermint and the candy topping, you feel like you are giving away a little box of magic. And what better gift could there be at Christmas than a box of magic?!