Monday, May 10, 2010

Marshmallows, New & Improved!

The very first thing I ever posted on my blog was marshmallows. I'd wanted to try making them for years and starting my blog was the excuse I needed to take the plunge. Since then I've made them hundreds, dozens, well, lots of times. I love watching the alchemy which transforms gelatin and sugar syrup into billowy pillows of sweetness. I've made them vanilla, peppermint, and fruit flavored, so you might wonder why I'm giving myself a High Five award on yet more marshmallows.

I know candy is not anyone's definition of health food, so it might seem foolish to try and make it healthier, but I am concerned about using corn syrup. Since High Fructose Corn Syrup hit my radar several years ago, I've been trying to keep it out of my house. How disheartening is was to learn that the dreaded HFCS had snuck into my regular corn syrup! I still have it in my pantry, but try to use it only sparingly. (David Lebovitz wrote a terrific post about when and why to use corn syrup here.)

So it was with delight that this marshmallow-making fan found a book called Marshmallows, which has a method for making your own syrup to replace corn syrup. The result? Not a settle for marshmallow. Not an "it's OK, but I'm wistfully thinking of the other kind" marshmallow. This made better marshmallows. Softer, fluffier, not as gummy. My family loved them and all gave them two sticky thumbs up. Woo hoo!

Because you have to make the syrup before you can make the marshmallows, this works out well as a multi-day project.

"Healthier" Marshmallows
- adapted from Marshmallows, Homemade Gourmet Treats

Marshmallow Syrup
- makes about 1 quart

2 cups water
5-1/3 cups granulated cane sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of salt

1- In a heavy 4-quart pan, combine all the ingredients, stirring until the sugar is moistened. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cover the pan for 2 minutes so the steam will wash any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan.

2- Uncover the pan, place a candy thermometer in the sugar mixture, and increase the heat to high. From this point on, do not stir! Continue cooking until the thermometer reads 240 deg. F.

3- Remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool for 15 minutes. Ladle* it into clean jars and attach lids.

Store the syrup at room temperature for up to 2 months. If the syrup begins to form crystals at the bottom of the jar, pour out the amount of syrup you need when you use it, without scraping the jar. Discard any crystallized part that is left in the jar.

* Ladle is important. I poured and the syrup picked up sugar crystals from the side of the pan and began crystallizing in the jar.

Note: The syrup will be very thick once it cools. To use it, microwave uncovered for 2 minutes on high power, or place the jar in a pan of hot water over low heat until it can be poured easily. Do not stir the syrup.


1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cold water
1-1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup water
1-1/4 cups Marshmallow Syrup (above)
Pinch salt
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Coating mixture (step 7)

1- Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray and wipe it lightly with a paper towel, leaving only a thin film of oil. Set up a stand mixer with whisk attachment in place.

2- Measure the cold water into a measuring cup and add the vanilla. Place the gelatin into a small bowl and pour the water mixture over it, stirring until there are no lumps. Set the bowl near the stove.

3- Place the 3/4 cup water, the Marshmallow Syrup, salt, and sugar, in that order, into a 4-quart pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pan with a lid and allow it to boil for 2 minutes to wash down the sugar crystals on the sides.

4- Remove the lid, place a candy thermometer in the pan, and continue boiling until the syrup is 250 deg. F. Once the lid is removed, do not stir the mixture! Remove the thermometer and gently stir in the bloomed gelatin.

5- Pour the batter into the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat it on high for 10 to 12 minutes. At first the batter will look very watery, but as it beats, it will become thick, white and glossy and will increase in volume by two- or threefold.

6- Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and spread the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Let the pan sit uncovered at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight.

7- Sift together 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar and 1/4 cup cornstarch. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with the mixture. Ease the marshmallows away from the sides of the pan and flip the pan over, releasing the marshmallows onto the cutting surface. Cut the marshmallows into squares, or use cookie cutters to cut fancy shapes. Toss the cut marshmallows in the powdered sugar mixture, shaking off any excess.

Place the coated marshmallows in an airtight container, with wax paper between the layers, and leave a corner of the lid slightly ajar. They will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

The High Five Award is for when you make a challenge for yourself and you conqueur that challenge. I'd say you have accomplished your goal Lynn.

Jennifer Jo said...

I've been wanting to make marshmallows but had trouble because of some of the ingredients. Now, thanks to you, I have no more excuses. I'll get right on it!

Marysol said...

Those look absolutely perfect!

Thumper and I have made marshmallows before, using (briefly look away) corn syrup.
And being the messy cooks we both are, the experience was a challenge in more ways than one.

Barbara said...

Your high five award has been much on my mind of late. I had a cookbook sitting on my kitchen counter for 2 months...on potstickers. I finally made them this weekend and thought of you. They were not as hard as I expected either, which is often the case.
I still have macarons to go. And they are next on my list.

I do love marshmallows and while I saved your old recipe, I never made them. This new recipe sounds even better!

The Blonde Duck said...

This makes me crave rice krispie treats.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Absolutely a High Five!
I did do marshmallows and they were wow, soooooo much better than anything from a plastic bag. These are better??? I can't imagine. Must have some ... how soon?

Katrina said...

What a great oxymorom--healthy marshmallows! ;)
I made some with agave syrup a while back. (Well, I made marshmallow fluff, but it probably would have turned to marshmallows if I'd have let it sit.

grace said...

i could definitely go for a more pillowy marshmallow--these sound great! you get two high fives from me since this is something i've never done myself. :)

elizabeth said...

i love making marshmallows too!! and i also have quite an aversion to the dreaded high fructose corn syrup (and even bigger aversion to the HFCS commercials). Thanks for a great post. I will certainly have to give this a try next time I just must make marshmallows

Aimée said...

High Five indeed!
This is very good news. With our new fire pit, we've been going through homemade marshmallows at an alarming rate (cinnamon is the current favorite).
I'm not thrilled about the extra work, but for perfect marshmallows, it can be done.

Maria said...

Homemade marshmallows are the best. Thanks for the tips!

Ilva said...

Thanks Lynn, I have wanted to make marshmallows for ages but it is pretty difficult to find corn syrup here in Italy but now I have no more excuses and I am so happy for it! Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

Oh, cool! Do you think we could use the marshmallow syrup in other recipes that call for corn syrup? I'd love to try this!

Anonymous said...

Oh, cool! Do you think we could use the marshmallow syrup in other recipes that call for corn syrup? I'd love to try this!

Melinda said...

You are the marshmallow queen! I give you a high five or as my daughter use to say when she was 6,
"Give me 50 million-squillion!"
I love the idea of healthy marshmallows. I am sure they are good for a difficult day at work-ache.

Unknown said...

Love the idea of healthy marshmallows. These sound yummy!

hobby baker Kelly said...

Isn't that book that absolute greatest? I adore it and it is worth buying for the lovely pictures and layout alone. I should make some today... Oh, try the cinnamon mocha marshmallows, they are SOOOO wickedly good! (I found the book after months of searching for corn free marshmallow recipes for my daughter.)

Dolce said...

They look great! The last time I did some was indeed with HFCS... Better try your recipe now :)

eatme_delicious said...

Hurray that's awesome that you found an even better marshmallow recipe. They look so fluffy and delicious.

Elle said...

You deserve a High Five! for these. Awesome marshmallows...and as close to health food as marshmallows get all by themselves :)