The weather here has been unusually warm lately, and I hate to admit, it’s really not getting me in the Christmas spirit. I am so far behind on my Christmas shopping it’s not even funny. I haven’t had one ounce of excitement about baking Christmas cookies either. It’s a little upsetting to me that I feel this way, and I really need to get with the program. Therefore, I bring you homemade vanilla marshmallows!
I wanted to try something really fun in the kitchen that I’ve never made before. After I made this homemade hot chocolate mix, the most obvious solution was to make homemade marshmallows. I’ve never made marshmallows before and I was so excited to try it. Oh. My. Goodness. I had so much fun making these. It’s a good thing nobody else was around the kitchen, or they would have had some seriously good laughs.
I should warn you by saying I am in no way an expert in making marshmallows. But, my number one tip for you is don’t try to be perfect in the kitchen, and have fun with these. At one point I had marshmallow fluff flying all over the place because I had the mixer turned up too high. Instead of freaking out about what I was doing wrong or how I was going to clean this mess up, I found myself laughing hysterically. You should allow marshmallow fluff to fly around your kitchen at least once in your lifetime.
Ok, on a serious note. Be sure that when you are heating the gelatin, continue stirring until it is completely smooth. You don’t want lumpy gelatin in your marshmallows. Also, be patient with your mixer. After the flying marshmallow fluff incident, I found that it was easier to keep the mixer speed on low at first, to allow the sugar mixture to combine before increasing the speed.
Lastly, when pouring the marshmallow mixture into the pan, it is important to work quickly. You want to get the mixture smooth and settled in the pan before you are stuck with a sticky mess. Don’t worry if you can’t get every last drop of the mixture off the whisk or out of the bowl, just get as much as you can. The bulk of it will pour out on its own.
These are really not difficult to make, and require very few ingredients. If you haven’t made homemade marshmallows before, please give it a try! It is so much fun and it is a feeling of accomplishment knowing you made them. Pair these marshmallows with some hot chocolate mix, and you’ve got a homemade gift perfect for Christmas!
Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows
Yield: 48 marshmallows
**Note: You can flavor your marshmallows almost any way you want. Simply replace the vanilla extract with a few teaspoons of your desired flavor. Just remember that some extracts are more powerful than vanilla (like peppermint) and won’t require the full 2 teaspoons.
3 and 1/2 packets unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
Make the marshmallows
Grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan with vegetable shortening. Pour about 1 cup of very cold water in a medium heatproof bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top to allow it to soften. You may need to add more water periodically if it starts to get too firm. (You can test it by gently swirling the bowl to see if the mixture moves. If it doesn’t, add in more water, a tablespoon at a time)
In a medium saucepan, gently stir together the sugar, 1/2 cup of the corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water. Be careful not to splash the ingredients onto the sides of the pan. Put the saucepan over medium-high heat and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and place on the stove over medium-low heat to bring to a simmer.
Put the remaining 1/2 cup corn syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set aside.
Return to the saucepan of the sugar mixture and check the temperature. When it reaches 220 degrees F., place the bowl of the gelatin mixture over the saucepan of simmering water and stir until the gelatin is completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan.
Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the melted gelatin mixture into the corn syrup. Keep the mixer on low.
Bring the sugar mixture to the soft ball stage on the candy thermometer (240 degrees F.), then remove from the heat. Take out the candy thermometer and very slowly pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture (You may need to pour it in batches, instead of pouring it all in at once). When all of the sugar mixture has been added, continue to mix on low for about 1 more minute. Turn the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for about 5 minutes. The marshmallow mixture will begin to turn white and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt. Turn the mixer speed up to high and beat for another minute.
Working quickly, pour the marshmallows into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to spread out the mixture evenly. Sprinkle with a bit of sifted confectioners sugar and let sit for about 6 hours.
Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan, and use your hands to pull the marshmallow (it will come out in one large piece) out of the pan and onto a flat surface lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
Place the 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl.
Use a chef’s knife to cut the marshmallows into a 6-by-8 grid. Roll each marshmallow in the confectioners’ sugar. The marshmallows will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Serve with hot chocolate or eat as is.
Recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking