Both my husband and my oldest son are big marshmallow fans. My husband remembers them being his favorite treat as a kid and I think my son is following in his footsteps. My kid literally asks me for marshmallows (it must be two at a time) Every. Single. Day. “Mommy, can I have TWO marshmallows in my hands please?”. I have to admit, it’s kind of cute how he likes me to press each one into the palms of his hands precisely a certain way. Like I said, he asks every day so, he’s always surprised when I actually say “yes!” and give him a couple. The smile on his face is priceless and I just know that this is one of those things I will always remember about my baby when he’s all grown up.
Even though I find my son’s love of marshmallows and obsession with eating them adorable, I don’t let him indulge in his favorite sweet treat too often. After all, those tiny spongey pillows of goodness are freaking sugar bombs. Still, I’m an “everything moderation” kinda gal, so once in a while it’s cool to give in. Which is exactly why last week I decided to to try my hand at making some as a surprise for my marshmallow loving boys. I’ve tasted fancy “homemade” marshmallows before at gourmet candy shops, but for some reason, I never thought about making them myself at home. Hot cocoa season is almost here so I figured some homemade marshmallows were in order.
I knew nothing about the process of marshmallow making when I started my research, other than that marshmallows contain an obscene amount of sugar and corn syrup. These are two ingredients I usually like to avoid/limit whenever possible and I have to admit, it did make me wince when I read the amounts. Still, I figured a homemade version had to be healthier than the commercially prepared kind, especially since I could at least avoid the artificial coloring and stabilizers that are present in the store bought kind. And my hope was to come out with a better tasting and nicer textured end product.
In my research I discovered that traditional marshmallows are made one of two ways: gelatin/sugar/corn syrup method or a combination of gelatin/sugar/corn syrup and egg whites. I was intrigued by the egg white versions I came across, but was afraid that my boys, with their very discerning palates, would turn up their noses at a marshmallow that tasted drastically different than their beloved bagged kind (ugh!), so I opted to for with the non-egg white version for my first try.
I started with a basic recipe found on Epicurious.com and I made two batches: one I kept vanilla flavored and the other I flavored with instant espresso powder for a more “adult” version. YUM! I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to make. That hardest part was waiting four hours for them to set up. As they were setting, I could not stop thinking about all of the ways to customize them by using cookie cutters, extracts and spices. I even decided to dip some of them in chocolate, roll them in crushed graham crackers and pop them on a stick for s’mores pops (see image below). My boys were delighted and so was I. I can’t wait to try the egg white version next to see how different they are in texture from the all gelatine kind.
Marshmallow S’mores Pops: Dip marshmallows in melted chocolate, roll in graham cracker crumbs, pierce with a lollipop stick and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Non-stick vegetable spray or Vegetable oil, for coating pan
1 cup cold water, divided
3 envelopes, unflavored gelatin (I used Knox brand)
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1. Line a 13×9-inch metal baking pan with foil and coat with non-stick spray.
TIP: if you want GIANT marshmallows, use a 9×9-inch pan instead of the 13×9.
2. Pour 1/2 cup cold water into the bow of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let sit until gelatin absorbs water, about 10 minutes.
3. Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining 1/2 cup cold water in a heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Place a candy thermometer on the side of the pan. Increase the heat and bring syrup to a boil. Continue to boil without stirring until syrup reaches 240 degrees, about 8 minutes. Note: if you don’t have a candy thermometer use the time as your judge for readiness.
4. Turn your mixer on low and slowly pour hot syrup into the gelatin mxture in a thin stream, running down the side of the bowl (to avoid hot syrup splashing on the whisk and into your face). Once all of the syrup is added to the gelatin, gradually increase speed and beat on high until mixture is very thick, about 12 minutes. Add in espresso (or vanilla) and beat for an additional 30 seconds.
5. Scrape marshmallow mixture into prepared pan. Spread it evenly into the corners of the pan using a wet spatula.
TIP: Use a slightly damp hand to help you smooth the top of the marshmallo so there are no lumps and the top is shiny.
6. Let stand at room temperature until firm, about 4 hours. Combine potato starch and powdered sugar. Sift some of the mixture onto a work surface. turn marshmallow slab out onto a work surface. Turn marshmallow slab out onto work surface and peel foil off. Sift more of the powdered sugar mixture over the slab and cut using a pizza wheel, sharp knife or cookie cutter dipped into sugar-starch mixture (to prevent sticking). Toss each marshmallow in the remaining sugar-starch mixture to coat all sides. Shake off excess and store in an airtight container for up to one week.