Marshmallows don’t grab me, but just for fun I tried making them in December using King Arthur Flour‘s recipe and sent them with the rest of the Christmas treats, and people loved them. When we made them in school, I sent them to my aunt and cousin, who thought they were wonderful. They’re pretty easy, and you can make them as fancy as you like.
You want a thermometer for the sugar syrup; any kitchen thermometer will do, but a candy thermometer is the most convenient kind. A thermometer is helpful because you’re cooking the sugar to the soft ball stage. That means if you drop some of the syrup into water, you can form it into a ball with your fingers, and the ball will stay soft. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the sugar this way.
Marshmallows are basically meringue with gelatin. Originally marshmallow was made with the sap of the marshmallow plant; the ancient Egyptians mixed marshmallow sap with honey and ate it as candy. The French mixed it with meringue and rose water and whipped it, which produced a confection similar to what we have now. Making marshmallows from marshmallow sap is expensive and labor intensive, though, and good luck finding marshmallow sap. The French figured out that you could use gelatin instead of marshmallow sap, and here we are.
The recipe I’m using is for one big batch, but I want to make several kinds, so I’m dividing it into three small batches. The basic game plan goes like this:
- Sprinkle the gelatin over water to bloom it.
- Mix sugar, water, and corn syrup in a saucepan and put that on the heat.
- Whip the egg whites on high to soft peaks, then turn down the mixer to low until the sugar is ready.
- When the sugar is ready, stir in the gelatin, then pour that over the whites and make marshmallow.
- Spread the mixture to cool and set, then cut it into pieces and toss them in powdered sugar.
If you’ve made Italian meringue, you can see this is basically the same thing except with gelatin.
9 egg whites
4 packets gelatin powder
1 cup water to bloom the gelatin
30 oz sugar
12 oz water to cook the sugar
6 oz corn syrup
flavoring to taste
½ cup each confectioner’s sugar and corn starch, sifted and whisked together to dust the pan and the marshmallows
You’ll also need a sheet pan or baking pan, a sieve or shaker for the confectioner’s sugar mixture, and a thermometer. Use a bigger saucepan than you think you need because when you add the gelatin to the sugar, the sugar will bubble up.
I’m making three kinds, so I’m making a third of this at a time, which is what you see in the photos.
Bloom the gelatin in the 1 cup of water.
Add the sugar to the saucepan, pour the water over it, and swish the sugar around to make sure it’s all wet.
Add the corn syrup to the saucepan. If you’re using a candy thermometer, hook that onto the saucepan. Set the burner for medium heat.
Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Whisk the whites on high speed until they form soft peaks, then turn the speed down until the sugar is ready.
When the sugar reaches the soft ball stage—240℉ on the thermometer—turn off the heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin. The sugar will foam up, so watch out.
Stir the bloomed gelatin into the hot syrup.
Turn the stand mixer up to medium and slowly pour in the sugar. (The hot sugar cooks the egg whites.)
Continue mixing on medium until the bowl of the stand mixer feels only warm to the touch. While you’re waiting, you can set up the pan that will hold the marshmallow. I put a sheet of parchment paper in a sheet pan and sprinkle that with the powdered sugar mixture. Alternatively, you can spray a sheet pan or baking pan with pan spray.
When the mixing bowl is warm to the touch, you can add flavoring and food color if you like. For the full batch, you probably want about 1 Tablespoon of flavoring unless you’re using very intense flavoring. When the bowl of the stand mixer feels lukewarm, you can pour the marshmallow onto the pan to set. Smooth the marshmallow as well as you can.
Then sprinkle the marshmallow with the powdered sugar and corn starch mixture, cover the pan, and let the marshmallow set. Give it at least 5 or 6 hours; overnight is better.
When the marshmallow is set, you can cut it into squares with a knife or a pizza wheel. You can also cut it into shapes with aspic cutters or small cookie cutters.
Toss the marshmallows into a bowl with the powdered sugar and corn starch mixture.
Try not to eat them all in one sitting.