Before you start reading this post, be warned: we’re going to talk about candy making. This is the one aspect of baking that I’ve consciously avoided for years. Any recipe that included the phrase “hard ball” was immediately thrown aside with disdain and, yes, a smidgeon of fear. Not only did candy making sound like a hassle and probably a mess, but it was a little too similar to chemistry class. I was never very good in chemistry class.
But then ’twas a week before Christmas and at the little apartment, all the gift shopping, packaging, and wrapping was already done. And so it was that your dear blogger had plenty of extra time before the holiday to create new projects, also known as “trouble,” for herself. And she did.
I won’t tell you that this recipe is easy, no matter what other bloggers claim. It will create a huge mess in your kitchen, especially if your kitchen is tiny, lacking both counter space and a dishwasher. The marshmallow mixture is difficult to manipulate, and likes to stick to your fingers, utensils, and pans. You will work in a cloud of powdered sugar and corn starch.
I even had to buy a candy thermometer.
But it was all worth it.
Marshmallows, from Scratch
Gently adapted from The Fauxmartha
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 ounce unflavored gelatin powder (4 packets)
1/3 cup and 1/2 cup water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
3 large egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Lightly spray a 9″x13″ pan with cooking spray. Whisk cornstarch and powdered sugar together in a small bowl., and sprinkle about a quarter of the cornstarch mixture into the pan. Set pan and remaining cornstarch mixture aside. In another bowl, add gelatin and pour 1/3 cup cold water on top. Set aside to soften.
In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, sugar, corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extra. Use your candy thermometer to stir, then clip to side of pan. Set saucepan over medium-low heat and heat to the “hard ball” stage (246 degrees), about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add egg whites, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, cream of tartar, and salt to a stand mixer. When your candy mixture hits 230 degrees, fix your whisk attachment to the mixer and begin beating on low.
Once mixture reaches the firm ball stage, remove from heat. Add gelatin to the saucepan and whisk until completely dissolved and incorporated. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to catch any remaining lumps. With the mixer still running, pour the mixture into the bowl at a slow, steady stream, then increase speed to medium high.
Mix approximately 15 minutes, until the mix bowl has completely cooled. The mixture will thicken and turn white until a meringue forms. The meringue is ready once it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and forms peaks.
Turn off the mixer and scrape the meringue into your prepared pan. Carefully smooth with a spatula – it will be very sticky and may be hard to manipulate. Cover to set, waiting at least four hours or overnight.
After firming, sprinkle another quarter of the cornstarch mixture on top and spread evenly with your hand. Using a flexible spatula, gently loosen the marshmallow sheet and remove to a cutting board. Cut 1-inch squares and roll each marshmallow in cornstarch mixture until evenly coated.
You could be done at this point… or you can melt some chocolate chips, grab your favorite sugar or sprinkle topping, and make irresistible chocolate-dipped marshmallows:
I leave that decision up to you! Either way, these marshmallows are miles beyond the prepackaged sort, perfect for snacking, roasting, or floating in cocoa (perhaps made with coffee?). I plan to package mine in little gift bags and give them out for Christmas. The recipe makes about 100 one-inch marshmallows, so there are plenty to go around!