These light and fluffy homemade marshmallows are deceptively easy to make (got 5 minutes?) and will wow your holiday party guests. Naturally gluten-free, too.
Whenever I make homemade marshmallows to bring as a hostess gift (something I highly recommend), everyone always assumes at first that I melted packaged marshmallows, spread them into a pan and then sliced them into squares. It just doesn’t occur to people that, with a few simple pantry ingredients, you can make your own fun and bouncy homemade marshmallows. Dressed up with crushed candy canes, these naturally gluten-free marshmallows are bright, festive and guaranteed to impress.
Don’t have a candy/deep-fry instant read thermometer? It’s a very useful, inexpensive kitchen tool to have. But in the meantime, you can test whether the sugar has reached the softball stage (as directed below) another way. Remove the pan from the heat and drop a spoonful of the sugar syrup in a small bowl of cold water. Reach into the cold water and grab the sugar syrup in your hand. If you can press it into a soft ball, it’s at the softball stage. If not, return it to the heat and watch it carefully, then try again. It’s not exact and it takes some guesswork, but it’ll do in a pinch.
Gluten-free candy cane marshmallow recipe
Yields 16 to 20 marshmallows, depending upon size
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- 2 packets (2 scant tablespoons) unflavored powdered gelatin
- 1 cup cool water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 to 8 gluten-free candy canes, crushed finely
- Line a 9-inch square baking dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil or unbleached parchment paper, grease the foil or paper well with cooking oil spray and dust the bottom and sides of the foil or paper liberally with confectioners’ sugar. Set the dish aside.
- In a small bowl, place the contents of both packets of gelatin, add 1/2 cup water and mix to combine well. Set the bowl aside to allow the gelatin to swell as it stands. Once the gelatin has swelled, transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl to use with a hand mixer).
- In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, place remaining 1/2 cup water, sugar and cream of tartar and whisk to combine well. Cook the sugar mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches the softball stage, between 238 degrees and 240 degrees F, on an instant read thermometer.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat immediately and pour the cooked sugar mixture down the side of the bowl of the stand mixer into the gelatin mixture. Whisk to combine and allow the mixture to cool briefly. It will bubble. Add the vanilla and salt, and beat the mixture on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer) until the mixture is white, thick and glossy. It should nearly triple in size. It is ready when the mixture pours off the whisk (or beaters) very slowly when the attachment is raised.
- Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and spread and shake gently into an even layer. Sprinkle the top of the marshmallows with the crushed candy canes in an even layer. Press down gently on the crushed candy to help it adhere to the marshmallows.
- Allow the marshmallows to sit at room temperature, uncovered, until set (at least 3 hours). Once set, run a dull knife along the edges of the pan, between the foil or paper and the pan, and lift the marshmallows out gently. Place, face up, on a cutting board. Peel back the sides of the marshmallows, and slice into 16 to 20 squares with a very sharp knife or a large pizza cutter. After they’re cut, toss each marshmallow in more confectioners’ sugar on all sides, taking care not to obscure the crushed candy canes on the top. Shake off excess confectioners’ sugar.
- Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for at least 3 days (longer if the ambient temperature is cool).