Presenting your friends and family with a cellophane bag full of fluffy, flavored homemade marshmallows is an appreciated – yet unexpected – treat. Who does that anymore, when marshmallows are so inexpensive to begin with? I do. Because homemade marshmallows are simple and tasty – not to mention a whole lot more fun.
Homemade marshmallows make extra special gifts
Marshmallows are little more than whipped sugar, but there’s something extra creamy and decadent about even the most basic homemade marshmallows. They are lovely eaten straight out of the bag, but extra special in homemade cocoa. The blank slate of the basic marshmallow recipe allows for a tremendous amount of creativity in the kitchen. Whatever flavorings you have are worth a try.
Best yet, homemade marshmallows make great gifts for family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and for your children’s teachers – no one can resist nibbling on freshly-made, fluffy and sweet marshmallows.
Additions and variations to basic marshmallows:
- Use peppermint extract and press crushed peppermint candies into the marshmallows as they set up.
- Use orange or coconut extract, and dip the finished cut marshmallows into dark chocolate.
- Use rum extract and press toasted coconut into the top of the marshmallows as they set up.
- Dust the finished marshmallows with cocoa powder.
Basic Homemade Marshmallows
Makes about 1-1/2 pounds of marshmallows
A stand mixer is really handy for this recipe, though it does work with a hand-held mixer. And you definitely need a candy thermometer. While the process of making marshmallows can be a little sticky, cleanup isn’t particularly onerous – since sugar easily dissolves in water.
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup cold water, divided
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Nonstick spray and parchment paper
- Put 1/2 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the gelatin over it to soften it. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the remaining 1/2 cup of water, sugar, corn syrup and salt to a gentle simmer. Insert a thermometer in the pan and cook the mixture until it reaches 240 degrees F. Remove it from the heat immediately.
- Put the whisk attachment on the stand mixer and turn the mixer on to low speed. Carefully and slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the mixer. Once all the hot sugar mixture is in, increase the speed of the mixer to high. Let it whip for 12 minutes, or until the mixture is very thick and white and has cooled to lukewarm. Add vanilla and whip an additional minute.
- While the mixture is whipping, whisk together the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line a rectangular baking dish (9×13-inch) with straight sides and corners with parchment paper such that some of the paper overhangs the edges. Spray the pan and the paper with a coating of nonstick spray, then pour in the cornstarch mixture and move it around the pan until well-coated. This is much like flouring a cake pan. Tap the excess out and back into the small bowl for later. Spray a rubber spatula with the cooking spray.
- Pour the whipped marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan, using the prepared spatula to spread it out evenly. Dust the top with some of the cornstarch mixture. Let the marshmallows sit uncovered for 5 to 10 hours to set up. To cut the marshmallows, turn them out onto a cutting board dusted with the cornstarch mixture, then use a pizza cutter to cut them into cubes. Roll the cubes in more of the cornstarch mixture and shake off any excess.
These keep for several weeks if kept in an airtight container, but we’ve never had them that long. I’d say, in our household, they may last three days max!