Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Homemade marshmallows

What would you do if you were sequestered at home, sick with the "death flu" as my pharmacist friend has been calling it, for days with nothing to do?

Make marshmallows, of course!

That's what I did, anyway.

What?  Don't give me that look.  I had to do something.  I was losing my mind!  I hadn't left our apartment in 72 hours and hadn't talked for almost the same amount of time thanks to coughing fits and the loss of my voice.  I felt useless.  I just wanted to create something... have something to show for my long holiday weekend.

Thankfully, the death flu had no effect on my stomach, so my appetite was relatively undisturbed.  At first thought, I wanted to make chocolate cupcakes.  I'd halve, no, quarter the original recipe because surely only one person would enjoy the products of my flu-ridden baking adventures.  There was no way anyone I loved or loathed would get germy cupcakes.  Those would be all mine... in one sitting.  But, that's just what changed my cupcake tune.

Instead of a half dozen chocolate cupcakes, I chose something a little lighter.  Flufflier.  Something I've been wanting to make for weeks since I had them at a friend's baby shower and was reminded just how delicious the homemade version really is.

Homemade marshmallows are absolutely meant for enjoying in a mug of hot chocolate.  These fresh little squares of white fluff melt like buttah, people.  It's a dream come true!

That's because long gone are the commercial stabilizers and mystery powders that manufacturers use to keep their 'mallows from sticking together.  (Think of the bags of grated cheese and how the cheese has a powdery coating that keeps it from melting as nicely as cheese you grate yourself).  All that's left to enjoy is an airy little pillow (or five!) ready to be tossed into a mug of piping hot cocoa.

Here is where I'd then endorse the wonders of a s'more made by the campfire with freshly-crafted marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers, but something's holding me back inside.  Oh, right -- the near zero degree windchill outside. Yikes!  So, instead of a campfire, why not try one in the fireplace or the handy dandy microwave.  It's still a s'more, and how bad can a s'more really be?  I promise it'll be the best one you've ever had.

But, as far as this batch of 'mallows were concerned, I stuck with my tried and true method of enjoyment: a handful plunked into a tall mug of ho-cho (that's what Matt calls it).  Drink half of the mug and gradually eat the melting marshmallows.  When they're gone, add a few more, and enjoy the remaining half of the toasty beverage.  I'm convinced it's this method and the, um, many times I practiced it over the long weekend that led to my recovery from aforementioned death flu.  Regardless of what doctors may tell you, sugar heals!

So, I guess I gave away how I almost finished the entire batch before Matt returned from Chicago, huh?  I ate 'em straight out of the bag after breakfast, on trips to the kitchen to refill my glass of water, while cooking dinner, and as I waited for my hot chocolate to become, well, hot.

If that's not an endorsement for how good these little babies are, I don't know what is.  Maybe telling you that there is a bag of store-bought mini marshmallows that's been in that very same cabinet where the homemade ones were stored for over 2 months.  And the bag is almost totally full.

In other words, I have some willpower and discipline.  Just not when it comes to fresh 'mallows, y'all :)

One year ago: Cheeseburger pizza
Two years ago: Macadamia nut cookies; Pork chops with apples and garlic smashed potatoes
Three years ago: Black bean and corn tortilla pie; Chewy chocolate chip cookies

Homemade Marshmallows
(adapted slightly from Ina Garten's recipe with tips from Brown Eyed Baker)
-varies greatly based on cut

A few notes: I made 1/3 of the original recipe with ease and used a 6x9-inch pan.  But, really you can use whatever size pan you'd like, depending on how thick or thin you like marshmallows.  Just be sure to adjust the quantities of water used in the recipe, too.  Then, once the marshmallow batter is whipped and ready to pour, be sure to work very quickly, as mixture pours most easily when it's still warm.  Finally, I have made the original toasted coconut 'mallows, and they are d-i-v-i-n-e!  Try 'em after you've mastered the base recipe.

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray.  Line with parchment paper, leaving two sides long enough to create an overhang on opposing sides.  Lightly coat parchment with nonstick spray as well, and dust entire pan with confectioners sugar.   Set aside.

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Get ready to work quickly!

Pour in the marshmallow batter and smooth the top of the mixture with damp hands.  Dust the entire top of the pan with confeectioners sugar.  Allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.  Remove the marshmallows from the pan and cut into squares.  Roll the sides of each piece carefully in confectioners' sugar. Store in sealed bag or container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.


  1. Hi Katy! Hope you're feeling better! And let me tell you that these marshmallows look divine! You can easily eat them all in one sitting :)

    1. Thank for for the sweet wishes (pun totally intended)! I'm feeling much better, thank you. And yes, the 'mallows are totally gone :)