If, when you looked up this recipe, you thought to yourself, “I would like to make something that is easy and not messy at all.” Then this is not the recipe for you.
Marshmallow making is messy. But it’s the fun kind of messy. The kind where the sticky mess is the kind you want to eat; and then smoosh in between two graham crackers with chocolate.
There are quite a few steps to this recipe, but it is pretty easy overall. I am going to preemptively say that the first time you make this is the hardest and messiest, and it gets easier from there…but I’ll let you know if that’s actually true when I start making these weekly for the restaurant.
I did A LOT of recipe research before I made these. There are a shocking number of variations for something so simple. In my mind I have always thought marshmallows were made with eggs because of their meringue-like quality. As it turns out, some are made with eggs and some aren’t. I went with Smitten Kitchen on this one for a few reasons. One; she tried a recipe without eggs first and liked this one better and two; she seems to know her shit.
Recipe originally from Smitten Kitchen:
About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 ½ envelopes (2 Tbs plus 2 ½ tsp) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ tsp salt
2 large egg whites
1 Tbs vanilla
Oil the bottom and sides of a 13X9X2 inch rectangular metal baking pan, all sides dusted heavily with confectioners’ sugar.
In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment; or in a large bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over ½ cup cold water, and let stand to soften. This is called blooming, it’s a very important step when you use gelatin.
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second ½ cup cold water and salt over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 F, about 12 minutes.
Remove pan from heat. Turn mixer on low, and pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture, stirring on low until the gelatin is dissolved. Try to get most of the mixture out of the pan, but don’t stress about getting all of it, as it cools it will become stringy. Feel free to eats these strings.
With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minute if using a stand mixer or about 10 minutes if using a hand-held.
In a separate medium bowl beat the egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan. Don’t fret if you don’t get it all out (I surely didn’t). Use a greased spatula to lightly smooth over the top. Sift ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar evenly over the top. Chill marshmallows uncovered, until firm, at least three hours or up to one day.
Run a thin knife around the edges of the pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of the inverted pan, with fingers, loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallows into roughly one inch cubes (I used an oiled pizza cutter, per Smitten Kitchen’s suggestion). Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl or back into your now empty baking pan and roll the marshmallows on all six sides to coat.
Shake off the excess and pack them away. Keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
A few notes:
I told you it was messy.
When I tried to remove mine from the pan, it didn’t go so smoothly. They kind of stuck to the bottom and I had to use a spatula in some spots to pry them out. Thank goodness marshmallows are springy, and they bounced right back into shape, but this is why I said to heavily coat the bottom of the baking pan.
The possibilities with marshmallows are endless. You could add peppermint or almond extract instead of vanilla, you could mix some cocoa powder with the confectioners’ sugar for coating. You could toast coconut and top the marshmallows with it before cooling, or about a million other things.
Traditionally marshmallows use powdered marshmallow root, which apparently is impossible to find. Most commercially manufactured marshmallows use gelatin, which is derived from animal byproducts. Apparently marshmallows can be made from using other gelling agents like agar agar (which comes from seaweed) or egg whites alone. I went with a traditional approach (mostly because I couldn’t find much else), but I would like to try a vegan/vegetarian friendly version. So all you vegan readers- check back later.
Luckily, I always have things on hand to make s’mores.