Monday, July 14, 2008

Marshmallow 101

It was a busy weekend, but my Sunday evening was nice and open, so Kyle and I planned to make marshmallows. As luck had it, while I was getting my ingredients ready to go, my sister-in-law called and asked if she could stop by. Of course we said yes, and she helped the marshmallowing by being our official session photographer.

There are several advantages to homemade marshmallows- the taste of a fresh homemade marshmallow blows store-bought marshmallows out of the water (or the hot cocoa), they melt nicer, you can make them any flavor you want (mint? vanilla bean? Yum!), plus you know and control the quality of the ingredients. Homemade marshmallows don't contain high-fructose corn syrups, preservatives, artificial flavoring (unless you choose to use them) or food dye (even plain white marshmallows contain blue food dye. Weird, right?) Also, everyone is super-impressed by your mad culinary skills when you serve them a homemade marshmallow!
As I mentioned, making marshmallows is really pretty simple, and the prep only takes about 30-45min, but once the process is started, you can't really stop. You'll want to have everything you need- equipment, tools and weighed ingredients ready-to-go. (The fancy-pants culinary term for this is mise en place, which translates roughly to "put in place".)

  • Be mindful- You will be cooking a hot sugar syrup. This is probably not the safest activity for young children. I am not responsible for burns or injuries.

Also, to give proper credit, I did not create this marshmallow recipe- it was given to me by my tres French chef instructor at school. I do not know where he got it, as it was handwritten on a slip of paper.

As far as tools and equipment goes, you will need-

  • A candy or digital thermometer
  • A saucepan
  • A heat resistant spatula or wooden spoon
  • A stand mixer or hand mixer, large stainless steel bowl, and a buddy
  • A well buttered glass 9x13 pan
  • A small bowl
  • A scale
  • A sifter or fine meshed sieve
  • Pizza cutter
  • A timer

Collect your tools and then weigh your ingredients (sorry, this is a by-weight recipe. Digital scales are about $20 at Target or Bed Bath and Beyond. It's a good investment.)


Makes 60+ marshmallows

  • 6oz water
  • 16oz sugar
  • 1.25oz honey
  • flavoring of your choice (I used 1/2tsp vanilla bean paste)
  • 1oz unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 6oz ice-cold water (in addition to above quantity)
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1.25oz sugar (in addition to above quantity)
  • About 1c confectioners sugar and 1c cornstarch sifted together
Once you have everything weighed out-

In your small bowl, dissolve the powdered gelatin in the ice water. Stir to ensure there is no dry gelatin. It will be very thick.

Attach your candy thermometer to your saucepan. Put water, honey and your flavor in the saucepan and heat on med-low until honey dissolves. Once honey dissolves, add the 16oz of sugar. Stir gently to dissolve the sugar, then allow to cook undisturbed until it reaches 275F. (This is sometimes called the "soft ball" stage.) Use extreme care with hot sugar!

Once sugar reaches 275F, carefully remove thermometer, and stir in gelatin paste. The sugar will bubble when the gelatin dissolves- this is because the water in the gelatin is boiling off in the hot sugar. Again, be careful. (You can see it bubbling a little in my picture.)

Set sugar aside for a moment and whip egg whites in the mixer (or with hand mixer) until they are frothy and start turning white. Sprinkle on the 1.25oz sugar and continue whipping (as if making meringue) until you reach medium-stiff peaks. (When you pull the beater out and turn it upside down, the egg fluff should just barely droop at the peaks.)

If using a stand mixer, set it on low and slowly and carefully drizzle the hot sugar syrup onto the egg whites. If using a hand mixer, have your buddy hold the hand mixer and with it on low-med while you slowly and carefully pour sugar syrup over the egg whites. Pause periodically to let your buddy ensure the whites and syrup are well mixed. Once all the syrup is Incorporated, set your timer to 8 minutes, crank your mixer to its highest speed and whip it like you're in Devo.

When your timer goes off, quickly pour your marshmallow goo into your greased 9x13 pan. Smooth the top. Using your sifter or mesh sieve, dust the top generously with your confectioner's sugar/cornstarch mix. Let marshmallows set for 1-2 hours. This would be a good time to tidy up.

Once marshmallows have firmed up, gently pull them out of the pan. If you greased the pan well, this will be pretty easy. Lay the slab o' marshmallow powdered side down on a sheet of aluminum foil. Dust the unpowdered side.

Using a pizza cutter, cut your marshmallows into small cubes. Toss the cubes in your remaining sugar/cornstarch.

Voila! You're the proud owner of a big ol' pile of homemade marshmallows!Toast them, make s'mores, plop 'em in hot cocoa, eat 'em plain... the possibilities are endless!


pepper said...

That so great! I've always wanted to make marshmallows but I was intimidated. Sounds like if you are properly prepared then its not too bad.

Do you have any advice for cleaning the pot that had the hot sugar mixture? Does it ruin the pot at all?

Thanks so much and I loved your wedding cake with the skull.

pepper said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pumpkin said...

Cleaning the pot is pretty easy- just fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil. That should dissolve any gunky sugar and gelatin residue. Then you can just dump the water and clean the pot as you usually do.
I've used my pots for marshmallows and caramels (and have even burned my fair share of caramels) and haven't ever encountered any damage from the hot sugar.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I have yet to try homemade marshmallows at home. I'll bookmark your recipe cause yours look great! Thanks for sharing!

Chris Sauter said...

how cool! yum! i'm making those too!