There are just some things in life that are worth the occasional indulgence. Marshmallows are one of those things. What would life be like without these pillowy bites of sweetness?
- A cup of hot chocolate is naked without them.
- S’mores would be nonexistent.
- Rice krispy treats would just be krispy rice. How sad.
I’ve been wanting to make my own marshmallows for years. It was on my list, along with French macarons, croissants, and sourdough bread. You know, one of those intimidating recipes that you’d need to set aside an ENTIRE day to make. I also wanted to try and make them a little healthier. It’s hard to enjoy a treat when you know that it contains 2 cups of sugar and half a bottle of corn syrup!
While scouring the internet, I found this helpful recipe and tutorial from The Urban Poser. She made it seem fairly simple, so I decided to try it.
Well, I’m happy to report that they’re really not that difficult to make at all! Mine turned out on the first try. Although my first batch wasn’t the prettiest to look at, they at least tasted good! They definitely have a distinct honey/maple syrup flavor, so if you don’t like these flavors on their own, you probably won’t like the taste of these.
You will need a candy thermometer and a mixer, preferably a stand mixer, but a hand mixer will work too (you’ll get a good arm workout!) The first thing you’ll need to do is “bloom” (a fancy word for soak) the gelatin powder in water, along with your vanilla. I added pure vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds to enhance that vanilla flavor. You can’t go wrong with the addition of fresh vanilla, right?!
While the gelatin soaks, being to cook the sugar mixture. In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil some water, maple syrup/honey, and salt. Cook to the “soft ball” stage and then carefully pour the hot syrup into the mixing bowl with the gelatin. Beat on low until all the sugar syrup is incorporated. Turn the speed up to high and beat the sugar and gelatin for 6-8 minutes until it becomes light and fluffy, like marshmallow creme.
You want to be careful not to over beat the mixture or the marshmallow will begin to form in the bowl and you won’t be able to transfer it to a pan. It’ll still be good, it’ll just be one giant bowl-shaped marshmallow!
Working quickly, pour the marshmallow mixture into an 8×8 pan that is greased, dusted, and preferably lined with parchment paper. Don’t bother trying to get every last bit of the marshmallow out of the bowl; it sets quickly so you must work fast. Smooth the top, leave on the counter, uncovered (or cover with something that won’t hold moisture, like more parchment paper or cheese cloth) and let the marshmallow set and firm up for about 3-4 hours, give or take.
Use a knife or offset spatula to carefully release the marshmallow from the sides of the pan. Using the parchment paper, lift the marshmallow from the pan and place on a cutting board. Dust the tops and sides with potato or arrowroot starch. Cut into whatever size squares you want, dusting each marshmallow as you cut them. You can even use cookie cutters to cut the marshmallows into cute shapes!
They are so soft, delicious, and much healthier than the sugar-laden marshmallows from the store. They’re also the perfect accompaniment this Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate!
I did also experiment with roasting them over a fire and although they get nice and toasted on the outside, they melt easily and can fall off the skewer if you leave it over the heat too long, so toast and eat them quickly! Hope you enjoy these, friends!
- 1 cup water, divided
- 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or other flavor of choice
- 3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin powder
- 1 cup light honey or pure maple syrup (I used a combo of both)
- pinch of salt
- Potato starch or arrowroot powder, for dusting
- The size pan you use will determine how thick your marshmallows are. An 8-9" square pan will yield medium sized squares, like in the pictures above. I like to line my baking dish with parchment paper to make it easier to remove from the pan, but a well greased pan coated with potato or arrowroot starch will work also. Prepare your pan by greasing or lining with parchment paper and dust with your starch. Set aside until needed.
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine ½ cup water, vanilla, and gelatin powder. Let gelatin bloom while you cook your syrup mixture.
- In a medium sized saucepan, add remaining ½ cup water, syrup, honey, and salt. Turn heat to medium-high and allow mixture to come to a boil. Reduce heat to med and let the syrup continue to bubble and cook for 5-10 minutes. Do not stir the syrup, just let it cook. Using a candy thermometer, heat sugar mixture up to the "soft ball" stage, which is 235-240 degrees Fahrenheit. When it gets to the correct temperature, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Turn your mixer on low and slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin while mixing. Once all of the syrup is combined into the gelatin, turn the mixer to high and beat the mixture till fluffy, anywhere from 6-10 minutes (times may vary) Be careful not to over-mix or the marshmallow will begin to form in the bowl.
- Once the mixture has thickened and is smooth and fluffy (like marshmallow creme) pour into prepared pan and smooth the top. You'll have to work quickly because the marshmallow can begin to set fairly fast. Don't bother scraping every last bit from the bowl, chances are it has already firmed up.
- Allow to sit uncovered for a few hours, until set. If you cover, use cheesecloth, a piece of loose parchment paper, or something that won't trap moisture. These need air to stay dry. Remove from the pan and cut into any size squares you prefer, generously dusting with potato starch to avoid sticking. I recommend storing in a jar with a loose lid, a treat box, or other container which is not sealed tightly. Using ziplock baggies or airtight plastic containers could trap moisture and make the marshmallows wet and soggy. They should last for at least 4-5 days at room temperature.
- I used cookie cutters to cut out some shapes. I had a bunch of leftover scrap pieces that I didn't know what to do with. I placed them in a microwavable bowl and microwaved them for 20-30 seconds, (JUST until melted) stirred it up and poured it back into a clean, greased and parchment lined pan and let them "re-set." They were as good as new and I was able to cut out more shapes! No more ugly scrap pieces, yay! I would only do this with the same scraps once. If you reheat too many times it may turn hard and rubbery. Hope this tip helps!