I dislike store-bought marshmallows. In fact, I can't stand them. Poofy, sickly whiteness. Ew!
I always just thought I didn't like marshmallows.
But then I considered the difference between WonderBread and Homemade Bread. They aren't even the same product! I realized the same might be true for the marshy puff of mallow. I'd seen old recipes for marshmallows, but I didn't know how good they were, or how sickeningly similar they were to the grocery store knock-offs. I went to the books and started exploring my options.
My sister Mandatory came over to assist me in my devilish plans. She is a clever and able partner in crime.
I pulled a straightforward, simple, easy, delicious recipe from one of my colorful, photo-packed cookbooks. This book is not only fun to cook out of - I have yet to find a recipe that I don't love - and stuffed with useful and fun recipes (such as graham crackers, toaster tarts, lemon curd, mayonnaise, ranch dip...), many of which would make wonderful gifts, but it is also loaded with pictures of cute packaging ideas for those of you that tend towards the artsy.
Marshmallows - airy, exquisite confections of feathery goodness. The perfect touch to a steaming cup of hot cocoa, or a gooey melting s'more. There are endless variations for this storable, giftable, delectable dainty.
The quantity of marshmallows depends on what size you cut them into. 30 medium (1-1/4 inch) or 16 large (2-inch).
Time commitment: 2 hours
2/3 cup water, divided
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
Pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Lightly oil the inside of an 8 by 8-inch pan with vegetable oil. Generously coat with confectioners' sugar; set aside. (Really, if you don't care about a uniform shape, you can just oil and dust a big sheet of parchment paper or a cookie sheet; the marshmallow goo is stiff enough that it won't ooze off completely, but will spread out somewhat. Use your own discretion.)
Pour 1/3 cup of the water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water, and let stand for about 10 minutes, or until the gelatin has softened.
In a saucepan, off heat, combine the remaining 1/3 cup water and the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan and make sure it does not touch the bottom. Cook the mixture without stirring until it reaches 240F (softball). Brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush (or a clean paintbrush reserved for kitchen use only) dipped in water, to gently wipe away any residual sugar crystals.
With the mixer on low speed, very carefully add the hot syrup to the softened gelatin. Add the vanilla, increase the speed to medium-high, and beat for 8 to 13 minutes, until the mixture becomes very white, stiff, and sticky.
Spread the mixture into the prepared pan using a lightly oiled spatula. With wet hands, press the batter evenly into the corners of the pan. Set aside for at least 1 hour, or until the mixture is firm and cool.
Sift the confectioners' sugar into a shallow dish or bowl. Run a sharp, wet knife around the edge of the cooled pan to loosen the marshmallow sheet. Remove the marshmallows from the pan. Cut into 16 or 36 squares, or whatever size or shape you want. Wet the knife often to keep it from sticking. Toss each marshmallow in the powdered sugar until completely coated (or see suggestions below, or create your own).
Store marshmallows in a single layer or layers separated by waxed paper. They will keep for at least 1 month when stored airtight at moderate temperature.
Substitute sifted unsweetened cocoa or toasted shredded coconut or finely crushed candy canes for the powdered sugar used to coat the marshmallows. Fold in 1 cup finely chopped cacao nibs, toasted almonds, mini chocolate chips, dried cranberries, or crushed peppermint sticks into the stiff marshmallow mixture before spreading. Or, swirl in food coloring, either leave as swirls or blend thoroughly. (A photo blog of a few of these variations.)
Enjoy your marshmallow world!!