Two posts about a simple homemade treat that tastes incredible and makes a great gift? Why not?
I'm a big marshmallow fan. In hot chocolate, on S'mores, by themselves, I can't think of a time marshmallows are bad. (Thought of it... with tomato sauce. Or chicken. That would not be good).
Like the caramel in this previous post, homemade marshmallows are about ten million times more delicious than the store bought stuff. They also make a very nice gift. Just wrap up a good amount of marshmallows in a cute treat bag and call it a day. I gave these as a gift to my coworkers two years ago, and it still gets brought up how delish they were. They are THAT good. I've all but been told I need to bring them to the next team meeting.
Since marshmallows are a pretty blank slate, you can customize them however your heart desires. This recipe is just your basic vanilla bean, but peppermint? Divine, the perfect hot cocoa companion. Eggnog? So festive. Chocolate swirl? Caramel? Almond? Coconut? Oh the possibilities!
These require a touch more skill than my caramel recipe. By that, I mean, you'll have to read a temperature. Marshmallow is a candy, and requires use of a candy thermometer. Technically you could try this without a thermometer if you know your sugar cooking stages well, but there's no need to be a hero.
I cut my marshmallows into bite-sized cubes and a few into larger squares (this makes a lot of 'mallows). I have some fun ideas for each.. so stay tuned ;)
You will spend more time than you think (Like 12-15 minutes) whipping the gelatin/water and sugar mixture, and you need to keep an eye on it so you know exactly when to stop whipping. It can feel like you will forever be whipping this God forsaken pile and then BAM! You have marshmallowy stuff. Thank heavens I have a KitchenAid stand mixer this year for marshmallow making! In the past I've done this all with a hand mixer. Let me just say... if you have a hand mixer, marshmallow day is not a good day for arms at the gym. They will be worked plenty. But hey, bonus arm workout!
Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
3 packets Gelatin
1 cup Water
1 cup Light Corn Syrup
1 1/2 cups White Sugar
Heavy Pinch (1/4 teaspoon) Salt
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract is fine too, but start with a 1 teaspoon and go up from there to taste)
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup Cornstarch
Non-Stick Cooking Spray
Place gelatin in mixing bowl with 1/2 cup ice cold water. Set aside. In sauce pan, combine rest of the water, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Clip your candy thermometer to the side if the pan. Turn to high and cook until mixture reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer. Slowly drizzle hot sugar mixture into gelatin/ water and mix on low. Once combined, increase speed to high until mixture gets thick and stiff. Add vanilla and whip just to incorporate, a few seconds. Scrape marshmallow into pan lined with parchment and sprayed with nonstick spray. Allow to dry for 4 hours, or ideally overnight. Once dry, combine powdered sugar and cornstarch. sprinkle marshmallow block and your cutting utensil (pizza wheels work great, or a sharp cookie cutter) with powder. Cut to desired shapes, tossing to coat each piece in the powdered sugar mix. Store in airtight container for 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.