Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"It's A Marshmallow World . . . In My Kitchen!"

Dear Folks,

With no apologies to Dean Martin's song "It's A Marshmallow World" - I Made Homemade Marshmallows!!

First a little anecdote.

I was at a gathering the other day, fun stuff.  It was part cookie exchange and I brought homemade cookies and homemade marshmallows.  While offering them to one gal saying "I made homemade marshmallows" she responded with "why"?   Oh my why not! I thought.  :-)

Homemade Marshmallows flew onto to my make-it-at-home radar several years ago when Martha showcased them and I thought I want to do that.  But I was turned off by 2 things:  1) corn syrup is called for in every recipe, almost, and 2) they always say you need a candy thermometer!  This is frustrating to me because I KNOW these kinds of candies were made before thermometers and they turned out great.

So long story short, over the last couple of years I looked and looked and looked for better recipe options.  I thought I had found a good option when I read other syrups like maple syrup could be substituted for the corn syrup and then I tripped across the blog site of "Nuddybar" and WOW she nailed it and took all of the worry away.  What a cute gal and creative too.  Make sure you watch her video.

Throw out your worries about candy thermometers - she easily shows that the two stages are just beaten for a specific number of minutes (a standing mixer is good for that - or two people who can switch off holding the beater).  That took all the thermometer, soft-ball-stage chemistry angle and threw them out the window! Yay!!!!

So back to the gal's question "why".   Every winter I buy a package of marshmallows for my homemade hot cocoa that Deane loves, I like those chocolate coated marshmallow candies as a treat, and way back when I was a kid I was introduced to a fluff-er-nutter, peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich.  That's why :-)

AND now I get to control the ingredients of this homemade candy.  And I need to really shout about just how wonderful these homemade ones taste.

The commercial kind have 10 ingredients, some of them chemistry sounding AND blue dye!!!  In a white food!  Growing up we used blue dye to make our white clothes whiter, but in food!  You can see from my picture that mine are snowy white and I used organic sugar which has a little beige hue and the marshmallows turned out white!.

This recipe has 7 ingredients (1 is vegetable oil as an anti-sticky element during the making).

This made a LOT of marshmallows.  I think the recipe can be halved easily without changing the taste or texture.

[CAUTION:  You are dealing with a sugar syrup that is boiling at one point - burns from a hot sugar mixture are terrible so be very careful in handling the boiling mixture.]


Homemade Marshmallows
without corn syrup or thermometer

(Catherine's Notes:  I used a 9 x 13 pan and an oiled pizza wheel for cutting - worked great -- I also used organic sugars - so far I have not found organic cornstarch but I'm looking)

1/2 cup cold water
2 tbsp. gelatin (2 envelopes)

1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

3 tbsp. icing sugar [powered sugar]
1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Large bowl
Small pot
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Hand blender
8×8 pan (or larger, for thinner marshmallows) or 9 x 13

Parchment paper and scissors (or plastic wrap or aluminum foil)
Rubber spatula
Cutting board
Large knife (or pizza wheel or kitchen shears)


Using a large bowl [this can be the bowl of your stand-up mixer], sprinkle the gelatin into 1/2 cup of cold water and give it a quick stir. Set it aside to soak.

Pour the other 1/2 cup of cold water into a small pot, and add the granulated sugar.

On high, heat the water-sugar mixture until it begins to boil. Turn down the heat to low, and simmer this syrup for 10-15 minutes.  [You can stir occasionally to keep the syrup from inching up the sides.]

Remove the pot from the heat.

While the syrup is cooling [you are only letting it stop simmering], line all sides of the 8×8? pan with parchment paper. Use some vegetable oil to lightly grease the paper.

Mix together the icing sugar and cornstarch, and use about a tablespoon of it to dust all sides of the pan. [If you need more mixture just keep proportions the same 1 cornstarch to3 powdered sugar.]

Pour the syrup into the bowl with the gelatin, and beat it for 5 minutes with a hand blender until it’s white, thickened, and doubled in volume.

Add the vanilla (and any flavouring or colouring), and beat it for another 7-8 minutes until it’s thick, glossy, and tripled in volume. It should almost be able to stand up on its own.

Scrape the mixture into the pan using a rubber spatula coated with vegetable oil, and flatten out the top as best you can.

Using the sieve, dust the top with the sugar-cornstarch mixture.

Put the marshmallow pan aside and let it set, uncovered, for a few hours.  [We let it sit overnight on the counter covered lightly with a towel and it was fine to cut the next day.]

Turn the marshmallow slab out onto a cutting board covered with parchment paper dusted with sugar-cornstarch. Oil and dust a large knife with sugar-cornstarch, and cut the marshmallow slab into 1 to 2-inch squares. Dust the marshmallow edges with more sugar-cornstarch to prevent them from sticking.

[To dust the cut cubes, I put the cornstarch/powdered sugar in a bowl, tossed handfuls of the cut cubes in and just gently tossed with my hands - did a great job of coating -- where I wanted to dip them in the sprinkles, I hand coated each cube except for one side and pressed the sticky side into the sprinkles held in a bowl.]

Store the marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature for ~1 week.  [We are still enjoying them 2 weeks later - I sometimes drop a cube into my coffee cup while it is brewing.]

"But even if you undercook or overcook the syrup, it doesn’t make a huge difference in the texture of the marshmallows. One time, I cooked the syrup for 2 minutes, and the marshmallows were still fine, just a bit stickier."  -- Nuddybar


Re:  A Fluff-Er-Nutter Sandwich - when you make these marshmallows at about the half-way to 2/3rds time of the final beating you will see marshmallow fluff.  I did not try it but I think at that stage you could jar up some and have fluff for making the sandwich.  I'm gonna try it with the next batch :-).

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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