One day, before long, I’m actually going to get my Christmas cards started…but I’ve been too distracted playing around in my kitchen making delectable morsels. In particular, I’ve been experimenting with a marshmallow recipe without corn syrup that has totally captivated me…as well as Mr. and Master Magpies who are delighted every time I try it with a new twist. Theoretically, these delightful bites are fulfilling two important functions: 1) they act as intriguing props for photo shoots, and 2) I like to give friends a homemade treat — but this year I just don’t feel like baking — so these marshmallows are just the ticket. Although a few have made it in front of the camera, none have yet made it to a gift bag. Oops. They are just too delicious. I’m promising myself the next batch will actually make it into gift bags! If you are looking for a simple but stunning treat to give away this holiday season, you really ought to give these a try. Pairing them with a pastry or oyster forks — to either stir the marshmallows into cocoa or eat like a lollipop — would be a spectacular gift. They are simple to make, and best of all, the recipe is a cinch to alter so you can make different flavored marshmallows. The first batch I made was vanilla, which I then dipped in chocolate. They were good — and very photogenic — but I still thought the recipe could be tweaked. And frankly, the dipping was a lot of work. I wanted an undipped marshmallow that was out of this world. So I got to work tweaking, not so much the recipe ingredients, but the techniques used. Eureka! Fabulous vanilla marshmallows. Then I got to thinking and made a chocolate version. Now that the principle has been worked out, the sky is the limit. Think lemon, or mint, or hazelnut, or caramel…what’s your favorite flavor?
Marshmallow recipe (click title for a printer-friendly version)
All my experimenting in the kitchen has yielded some vital marshmallow recipe tips: 1. In contrast to every other recipe I’ve seen, this one instructs you not to grease the pan. I did grease it for the first couple of tries and found it left an icky coating on the marshmallows. My solution with the larger pan and the sugar coating eliminates the need for grease or oil. 2. Don’t skimp on beating the syrup in the mixer. It only takes 5-7 minutes to beat it enough to make a marshmallow texture, but the mixture will still be slightly warm. This means you’ll have trouble later with your marshmallows weeping sugar liquid. Beat for the full 15+ minutes. Not only is the texture improved, but by beating until all the heat is gone, your marshmallows will stay stable. 3. Recipe can be halved, but not doubled! 4. Don’t let the need for a thermometer put you off making this recipe!
Marshmallow Recipe Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2 envelopes gelatin
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups icing/confectioners sugar
Pour the cold water into the bowl of the mixer. Carefully pour the gelatin into the water. Try not to get any gelatin on the sides of the bowl. You want it all to be in the water so it softens properly. Put the rest of the water, sugar, and salt in a medium pan over medium heat. Clip the thermometer to the side with the tip submerged in the mixture. While the sugar and water heat, swirl the pan around every so often to make sure all the sugar crystals melt. As the mixture boils, keep an eye on the temperature. Once it reaches 236℉ remove from heat. Turn the mixer on low and pour in the boiling sugar syrup. Once all the syrup has been poured in, turn the mixer up to high. Exactly how high will depend a bit on your mixer. I turn my KitchenAid 600 onto medium-high; if you are using something less powerful you may need to be at full power. Let it beat for 5 minutes at this high setting. You want the mixture to become thick and fluffy, like whipped cream. While the mixture is beating, prepare the pan. Instead of using a brownie or cake pan, I’ve started using cookie sheets to avoid the greasing issue. Lay a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the cookie sheet. Use a sieve to coat the parchment with a thick layer of icing sugar. Turn back to the mixer. Once the mixture has successfully thickened to a stiff peak, you can turn the speed down to medium. Place your hands on the sides of the mixing bowl. Do you feel the residual heat? You are going to want to keep beating the mixture until all that heat is gone. How long this takes will depend on your mixer. At the very least it’s going to be another 10 minutes. But alchemy and magic are happening during this extra beating time. The texture of the marshmallow cream is transforming from good to ethereal. The difference in the batches when I added this step was dramatic.
Once the mixture is totally cool, stop beating. Using a spatula, pour/drop the marshmallow cream onto the prepared cookie sheet. Use the spatula to coax it into a more-or-less even sheet. Dust the the top of marshmallow cream with another layer of sugar and leave to set for 3 hours. The mixture is so thick that it will not spread by itself. This is good for us, because we use that natural body to avoid using a pan with sides which would then need to be greased in order to get the mixture back out of the pan. Even spreading sugar over a layer of grease leaves an unpleasant residual dampness on the marshmallows. Once the marshmallows are set, use a long knife to trim them into the shape you desire. Be sure to coat the newly exposed sides of your marshmallow pieces in sugar. This stops them from sticking and helps keep them fresh. Store in an airtight container — a ziplock bag or tupperware. Variations of the marshmallow recipe:
- Chocolate marshmallows – Omit the vanilla. Instead, once the mixture has reached the stiff peak stage, stop the mixer and add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. Then continue beating at the lower speed. For the sugar coating, mix equal parts icing sugar and cocoa and sieve a couple of times until the mixture is an even light brown color. Use this mixture on the parchment paper and as the marshmallow coating.
- Mint marshmallows – Omit the vanilla and add 1 tsp. peppermint extract instead.
- Lemon marshmallows – Omit the vanilla and use 1 tsp. Boyajian Lemon Oil instead. You may remember the lemon oil from the Lemon Olive Oil Cake. Don’t use lemon extract…the flavor isn’t anywhere near as good as with the Boyajian.
- Hazelnut – Omit the vanilla and use 1-2 tbsp. hazelnut syrup (like the stuff they use to flavour coffee at Starbucks). You need to use more of the syrups than you do the oils and extracts as the flavours are not so intense.
You can, of course, make chocolate-hazelnut, or lemon-mint marshmallows — just combine as your tastebuds see fit. And using those syrups you can find just about any other flavour your heart desires. What about this seasonal flavours syrup pack on Amazon? As I’m writing I’m wondering how this marshmallow recipe would turn out with some finely minced crystallized ginger added? Or what about turning it pink by using grenadine syrup? As you can see this marshmallow recipe is very versatile and the results are spectacular.
What flavours would you add to this marshmallow recipe? If you know someone who enjoys making holiday treats, please pass this post along.