Sunday, October 20, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows

If there is only one thing I love about Fall, it's the cooler weather.  For me, cooler weather means lots of things.  Football, beautiful colors outdoors, fires, grilling, crock pots of chili and hot chocolate.

In the spirit of the season, I started thinking about Smores and grilling, and remembered some gourmet marshmallow's I'd seen mentioned on the Food Network.  If you've never heard of them, look them up--- they're called "Plush Puffs" and they look truly amazing.  After some searching, and realizing they aren't available anywhere in Alabama, and realizing the cost (and risk of melting) of shipping seemed like something I didn't want to chance, I thought "maybe I could make some marshmallows."  How hard could it be, right?

Then I started researching homemade marshmallow recipes. I found plenty of recipes, and the reviews were mixed on most of them.  I decided to go with a trusty Alton Brown recipe.  I am generally a fan of most of his recipes that I've tried, so I just trusted that he'd know what he's doing when it comes to marshmallows.  I found his recipe here.  Then I gathered my ingredients.

Homemade Marshmallows:
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I actually forgot this when I made my marshmallows, and they were still good)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows. (Don't forget the vanilla, don't forget the vanilla!) If you do forget, like I did, it won't destroy your  marshmallows.  Mine were still delicious.

Also, I got confused on the recipe here, so let me help you out.  Don't worry, you didn't forget to add some ingredients.  The powdered sugar and corn starch will be used in the next step.  Don't waste your time re-reading the first part of the recipe over and over.  Trust me.

For regular marshmallows:  
(I made these.  If you want mini-marshmallows, click on the food network link at the end for instructions.)
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. 
As an extra step, I lined my baking pan with parchment paper.  It helps with clean-up and I don't like to use non-stick spray directly on my non-stick pans.
Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Waiting for the marshmallows to set are the hardest part of this recipe.  At least that's my opinion.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Read more at:

After the marshmallows were finished, and I discovered that I hadn't butchered the recipe too badly, and that my fluffy treats were indeed edible, I started wondering.  "What should I do with all of these marshmallows?"  I immediately thought "Smores, duh."  Then I realized I didn't have a chocolate bar handy, and I wanted to use them right away.  On to plan B.  Hot chocolate!
Now, you don't have to get all fancy with your hot chocolate, but if you want something other than the ordinary packets, I have a great recipe that someone gave me a few years ago.  It's homemade hot chocolate with a touch of cinnamon flavor.  Delicious.  I thought it might be a good combo with my fancy marshmallows.

I can't credit the original source for this, because it was given to me from someone else, so if this is your original recipe, I'm so sorry!

Someone else's delicious Hot Chocolate Mix:
(serves 4)
3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c powdered milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c cocoa powder
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (or you can do what I did, and improvise with a mixture of bittersweet & semi-sweet--- that's what I had in the pantry)

Mix your dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. (sugar, powdered milk, cinnamon, cocoa powder)
Chop the bittersweet chocolate into chunky, consistent pieces.  I tried to make it about the size of mini chocolate chips--remember, it needs to melt easily in your hot chocolate.  Add chocolate to dry mixture. Mix well.  Store in an airtight container.

To make your hot chocolate, add 1 c of hot water to 1/2 cup of hot chocolate mix.  Top with your yummy homemade marshmallows, enjoy!

These marshmallows were the perfect compliment to my hot chocolate.  They were nice and melty, and I imagine they will be really great roasted and added to Smores, after I go buy a Hershey bar!

My next project will be trying different flavors of marshmallows.  Peppermint. Cinnamon. 
Vanilla. Lemon. Pumpkin.  

Don't be intimidated by this recipe.  It is super-easy, and waaaay better than store-bought marshmallows.  Plus, you can impress your friends by making them.  I think a combo of hot chocolate mix, marshmallows and a coffee cup would make great small (cheap) gifts for your friends at the Holidays! 

What are your favorite things to make in the Fall?  Have you tried any new recipes?  Have you conquered the perfect homemade marshmallow?  I want to hear about it!