Homemade Marshmallow Recipe
Some of my favorite candies are marshmallows. Actually, I should backtrack a bit and say at the very top of my all-time favorite things to eat are marshmallows. I love their pillowy softness and their tender sweetness with undertones of vanilla. If it sounds like I’m getting a little Proustian for them, you’re right. I recently made several batches for some projects, which not only rekindled my love of them, but when I brought them to a few parties, people were stunned at how good they were and could not stop raving.
Of course, all compliments are welcome—I’ll take them whenever I can get them. But there’s really nothing complicated about making marshmallows and anyone with a few extra egg whites on hand and a sturdy mixer, can produce world-class marshmallows right at home.
They’re very easy to make – if you can whip egg whites, you can make marshmallows. And it’s pretty fun, too. Once you’ve whipped up the stabilized meringue, you can swirl and spread it on a baking sheet and cut them later, or form them into whatever shapes you want.
I’ve made all sorts of marshmallows over the years and here’s my basic recipe which I’ve tweaked a bit as I’ve gone along. In America, powdered granulated unflavored gelatin is widely available, which is commonly used there, although people elsewhere in the world use sheet gelatin, so I’ve given directions for both. (At the end of the recipe, I’ve added some links about using various kinds of gelatin.)
The most important thing about making candy is this: Have fun. There’s kind of a theory in the cookbook world that the minute you ask readers to get out a thermometer, you’ve lost them. But it takes all the guesswork out of candy making and it makes the process foolproof.
Although most people just spread the mixture on sheets and let it cool before cutting it into traditional squares, there’s no reason you can’t simply scoop blobs of the mixtures onto a prepared baking sheet. Once firmed up, you can place them on top of wedges of tangy lemon tart or lime tart. If you really want to impress your friends (or yourself) you could also run the tart under the broiler for a few moments to caramelize the marshmallow mounds, too.
The great thing is that unlike meringue-topped tarts and pies, marshmallows don’t weep. I recently had an ice cream sundae party and we used the marshmallow on top of our ice cream creations, with swirls of sauces and candied peanuts, and an unofficial vote (ie: plates scraped clean) proved that it was a great swap-out for whipped cream.
You can certainly add flavors to the marshmallows, such as spices like cinnamon during the final beating stages, or add a shot of liquor, like absinthe or Armagnac, replacing some of the water used for softening the granulated gelatin. (Or the 2 tablespoons, if using sheet gelatin.) Peppermint oil works well, as does powdered espresso, both of which you can add to taste. For those looking for a chocolate marshmallow recipe, there’s one in The Sweet Life in Paris.
There’s really just three steps to whipping up a batch of marshmallows; Make a syrup, whip the egg whites, then pour the syrup and gelatin into the whites while whipping. Once that’s done, you can cut or snip them into any size or shape. What are you waiting for?
Tips and Troubleshooting
-If you’re wondering whether the corn syrup is necessary, or another sweetener can be used, please refer to my post Why and When to Use (or Not Use) Corn Syrup. There are also links there which explain the difference between regular corn syrup and the high-fructose variety. I’ve not tried this recipe with other liquid sweeteners so can’t advise or guarantee the results if you do make the substitution.
-If you are looking for an egg-free marshmallow recipe, there is one in my book, The Perfect Scoop.
-Some candy makers use only corn starch, and no powdered sugar, but I find the taste of the corn starch to be a little gunky by itself, so I mix the two. You can use all corn starch if you wish, but I don’t recommend using all powdered sugar as it can dissolve and make the marshmallows a bit damp.
-Should you cook the syrup too far in step #5, no need to toss it and start again; just add a few spoonfuls of water and recook it to the correct temperature.
-If the finished marshmallows are too soft, it’s likely your thermometer isn’t accurate. Test it in a pot of boiling water; if you live at sea level, the temperature should read 212ºF (100ºC).
-If your marshmallows have a wet layer on the bottom after the drying period, if likely means that you did not beat them until completely cool in step #6. You can blot the moisture off with a paper towel and dry them with the damp end up overnight to dry them out.
Related Links and Recipes
Vegan Marshmallows (Vegetarian Times)
Vegan Marshmallow Recipe (Vegan Marshmallows)
Gelatin Sheets (L’Epicerie)