I like a good challenge but I also like retiring challenges with a swift “CHECK!” off of my bucket list. Running a marathon was like that. As I crossed the finish line I thought to myself, “I am never doing that sh*t again.” and promptly tried to sit down (which, for obvious reasons, they don’t let you do). I felt the same when I made puff pastry. “Amazing!” I thought. “Now, where can I buy it?” Occasionally, though, I take on a kitchen challenge only to fall in love with the result and, possibly, obsess over it. That’s how marshmallows and I ended up.
I do not even really like marshmallows. I am, however, curious by nature and I woke up one morning a few months ago desperate to know how they were made. I did some research, bought some ingredients and then forgot about my interest for a few months. Last fall, in a bout of British-ness, I decided to try my hand at Earl Grey Tea Marshmallows. The result was amazing . . . because it worked. I checked the box and I was done. Until this fall when I dove back into the the gluey white mess and went a little marshmallow-crazy. In the past two weeks I’ve made Joy the Baker’s Honey Vanilla Marshmallows, Smitten Kitchen’s Fluffy Marshmallows and Martha’s marshmallows. I discovered two things: 1. Marshmallows are AWESOME and 2. The basic idea behind each recipe is the same. The ratios of sugar to gelatine are about the same. You heat a sugar + corn syrup mixture up to 238-240F, combine with a powdered gelatin + water mixture and whip whip whip until you have a dense white cloud in your mixer. Some people add in egg whites, I tried it both ways and prefered the simplicity of the omission of egg white and also preferred the flavour. Either way, you pour gooey white mixture into a lined pan and let it sit for 3-12 hours and somehow marshmallows come out of the other side.
Know in advance that making marshmallows is as easy as it is messy. Prepare yourself for the mess with a can of non-stick cooking spray and a generous amount of the cornstarch + powdered sugar mixture, and you will emerge victorious from the other side. (And here’s a weird thing I wasn’t expecting, the marshmallow mixture stinks. Magically that smell doesn’t turn into flavour and after 3-12 hours the repugnant odor dissipates.)
An added benefit is that you can customize them in so many ways! I’ve used drops of cinnamon extract and added a swirl of red food coloring to make cinnamon-y holiday-y ones to give away, mint extract for my son who wanted peppermint marshmallows and lemon syrup and yellow food coloring at my daughter’s request. You can really do whatever you want. That’s why these have such a catchy name that makes sure they end up at the bottom of any search page: Infinitely customizable, big, fluffy, marshmallows.
Go forth in pillowy white goodness my friends! And make sure you have a game plan for getting rid of them. These suckers are addictive!
- Non stick cooking spray
- 235ml (1 cup) ice cold water (divided into two halves)
- 22g (3/4 oz) powdered unflavoured gelatin
- 320g (1 1/2 cup) white granulated sugar
- 60ml (1/4 cup) runny honey
- 300ml (1 1/4 cup) golden syrup or light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 30ml (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- 100g (3/4 cup) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 100g (3/4 cup) cornstarch
- 4 drops of cinnamon extract OR
- 4 drops of peppermint extract OR
- 4 drops of lemon extract OR
- scraped out vanilla bits from 1 small vanilla bean OR
- substitute the 1/2 cup of ice cold water with 1/2 cup of ice cold earl grey tea
- Spray a 9-by-9 inch baking dish with non stick cooking spray. Line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Spray parchment with oil also; set aside.
- Pour 1/2 cup (about 115ml) of ice cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and let mixture soften while you cook the sugar.
- Put granulated sugar, golden syrup (corn syrup), honey, salt, and remaining water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a soft boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Turn head down to medium and cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238 degrees (do not exceed 240!) on a candy thermometer, 7-10 mins.
- Going back to the mixer now -- with mixer on low speed, beat the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is light, white and fluffy and starting to get stiff -- about 10 minutes. Beat in vanilla and other seasonings. Working quickly because the mixture is going to stiffen quickly, pour into prepared dish, and smooth with an offset spatula. Set aside, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours but will happily sit overnight if you'll let it.
- Whisk together the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch. Sift a bit onto surface of marshmallows and then flip marshmallow onto a cutting board. Remove parchment and sift more of the cornstarch mixture on what is now the top of the marshmallow. Lightly brush a sharp knife with oil, then cut marshmallow into desired squares. Sift remaining 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar into a small bowl, and roll each marshmallow in the sugar to coat.