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Homemade Marshmallows Are Winter's Saving Grace

January 28, 2014

 Kemp Minifie

Looking at a snow day tomorrow? Whether the kids are home and you need something to keep them from clobbering each other, or you’ve got a date with your couch and Netflix, we’ve got the answer for a totally simple, reward-filled kitchen adventure: Homemade marshmallows! You won’t believe how easy they are to make and once you do, you might not buy those bags of sweet rubber anymore. Even better, there’s a very good chance you’ve already got the makings in your cupboard: Unflavored gelatin (you’ll need three envelopes), granulated sugar, light corn syrup, and confectioners’ sugar.  Let’s hope your pipes don’t freeze so that you’ll have access to a cup of water, too. It takes no more than about 15 minutes to make the marshmallow mixture, and a few hours at rest to set up, then you’re good to go. 

You can’t miss with plain vanilla marshmallows (recipe below), but we’ve got plenty of fun ways to jazz them up. How about salted caramel or chocolate-malt marshmallows?

Try pink peppermint swirl for the kids and crème de menthe for the adults.

Once you’ve got your marshmallows, it’s a cinch to float them in hot chocolate or toast them in your fireplace,if you’re lucky enough to have one—broil them briefly if you don’t—for an indoor winter s’mores picnic. 

Makes 64 marshmallows

Vegetable oil for brushing pan
About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar for coating pan and marshmallows
3 (1/4-ounce) envelopes powdered unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Special equipment: Pastry brush; 1 (9-inch) square baking pan; small, fine-mesh sieve; 4 1/2-quart or larger stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; candy thermometer 

Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil. Using a small, fine-mesh sieve, dust the pan generously with confectioners’ sugar, knocking out any excess.

Put 1/2 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin into the bowl and stir briefly to make sure all the gelatin is in contact with water. Let soften while you make the sugar syrup.

In a heavy 3- to 4-quart saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Place over moderate heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Put a candy thermometer into the boiling sugar syrup and continue boiling (the mixture may foam up, so turn the heat down slightly if necessary), without stirring, until the thermometer registers 240°F (soft-ball stage). Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand briefly until the bubbles dissipate slightly.

With the mixer on low speed, pour the hot sugar syrup into the softened gelatin in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Gradually increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the marshmallow is very thick and forms a thick ribbon when the whisk is lifted, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.

Scrape the marshmallow into the prepared pan (it will be very sticky) and use wet fingertips to spread it evenly and smooth the top. Let stand, uncovered at room temperature, until the surface is no longer sticky and you can gently pull the marshmallow away from the sides of the pan with your fingertips, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Dust a cutting board with confectioners’ sugar. Use a rubber spatula to pull the sides of the marshmallow from the edge of the pan (use the spatula to loosen the marshmallow from the bottom of the pan if necessary) and invert onto the cutting board. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar. Brush a long thin knife or a chef’s knife with vegetable oil and dust with confectioners’ sugar to prevent sticking; continue dusting the knife as necessary. Cut lengthwise into 8 strips, then crosswise into eighths, to form a total of 64 squares. (For larger marshmallows, cut lengthwise into 6 strips, then crosswise into sixths, to form a total of 36 squares.) Coat marshmallows, one at a time, in confectioners’ sugar, using a pastry brush to brush off any excess. DO AHEAD: Marshmallows can be stored, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment in an airtight container in a dry place at cool room temperature, for 1 month.