Step up your game: Homemade Marshmallows

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I’m going to get right down to it. I’m talking about making homemade marshmallows, people. Home. Made. Marsh. Mallows. It’s about to get real. Let me back up a little bit. This year for Thanksgiving I was in charge of bringing the sweet potatoes and a pie. We all know that the best part of the sweet potatoes is certainly not the sweet potatoes, it’s the gooey, messy, sweet morsels of heaven on top. Duh! But for real, the best part of anything when it involves marshmallows is ALWAYS the marshmallows. Hot chocolate is nothing if not a hot tub for mini-marshmallows. A s’more is given that soft, velvety (sometimes chard) texture when marshmallows are added. It’s the best. Everyone knows that. But I digress. This year I really wanted to step up my culinary game for Thanksgiving. So why not go for gold and make homemade marshmallows for the sweet potato casserole topping. Not only are they great to bake with, but they make an impression addition to the dessert spread and make wonderful homemade gifts.

Now, making homemade marshmallows may seem like a daunting task but it’s really quite simple. But you’ll need a couple of basic tools and equipment. This gave me the perfect opportunity to use our new wedding gifts! The basic idea is that you take some gelatin and soften it, boil some sugar and water, beat it all together and add in whipped egg whites and flavoring. The flavoring is where you can get creative if you want to make marshmallows as gifts or as a stand alone dessert item. For the sweet potato casserole I made regular vanilla marshmallows but you can add in almond, maple, mint, chocolate or whatever kind of flavoring that you could imagine.

Here’s What You Need:

  • 3 1/2 packs of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • about 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (or whatever flavoring you want to try)
  • optional: food coloring

Before you get started, make sure you gather all your ingredients and measure them out in advance. I was nervous to try out this recipe at first but it really helped to have everything pre-measured and ready to go for each step.

Start by greasing a 9×13 pan and slightly coating the bottom and sides with powdered sugar. Then, in the bowl of your standing electric mixer, throw in the gelatin and add 1/2 cup cold water. Let it stand to soften while you do the next step. If you don’t have a standing mixer, you can use just a regular mixing bowl and use a handheld mixer later in the process. But it’s a lot easier with a standing mixer.

There's the gelatin.. doin it's thing.
There’s the gelatin.. doin it’s thing.

Then, in a medium sized saucepan, combine the regular sugar, corn syrup and other 1/2 cup of water and salt. Heat over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium/medium-high and bring to a boil without stirring. You’ll need a good candy/oil thermometer, you can get a regular one at any big box store for pretty cheap, but we got this great digital candy thermometer from our wedding registry from Bed, Bath and Beyond. Let the mixture boil until it reaches 240 degrees. Remove the pan from heat and pour the hot candy lava mixture over the gelatin in your mixing bowl. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved.

This digital candy thermometer is what's up. Highly recommended!
This digital candy thermometer is what’s up. Highly recommended!
Sugar mixture heating up to 240 degrees.
Sugar mixture heating up to 240 degrees.

Using your standing mixer or your handheld mixer, beat the mixture on high until it’s white, thick and almost tripled in size. It won’t take long in a standing mixture, but if you’re using a handheld mixer, it could take 10-15 minutes.

While that’s going on, beat the egg whites and vanilla (or whatever flavoring) in a separate bowl until they reach the stiff peak stage. I used a handheld immersion blender with the whisk attachment for this step while the standing mixer was busy with the sugar/gelatin mixture. Adding in egg whites is what makes the marshmallow light and fluffy, a very important step to the perfect mallow. Once the egg whites have hit the stiff peak stage, beat them into the sugar mixture just until it’s all combined. And what you’ll end up with is marshmallow fluff essentially. Now is the perfect time to make a fluffternutter sammich. You deserve it after slaving away over the hot stove and mixing devices.

Egg whites are just about ready to fold into the sugar/gelatin mixture
Egg whites are just about ready to fold into the sugar/gelatin mixture

Pour your marshmallow batter, as it were, into the pre-greased, pre-powdered sugared pan. Don’t worry about getting every bit off of the sides of the bowl. it’s just too messy and sticky to deal with. Plus, it starts setting very, very quickly. Your best bet is to have a professional taste tester nearby to help you clean the bowl while you finish up. Once your batter is in the pan, sift a little more of the powdered sugar all over the top. Pop the pan in the fridge and let it sit for at least 3 hours. I kept mine in the fridge overnight.

The marshmallow batter all poured into a 9x13 pan. You're going to get an urge to take a spoon and eat the entire pan like it's one big marshmallow (which it is). Resist that urge.
The marshmallow batter all poured into a 9×13 pan. You’re going to get an urge to take a spoon and eat the entire pan like it’s one big marshmallow (which it is). Resist that urge.

Once you’re ready, carefully pull away the marshmallow from the sides of the pan so that the marshmallow doesn’t stick. Flip the whole pan onto a cutting board and you have an entire 9×13 marshmallow. That would be a huge s’more. Or, you can cut up your marshmallow with a knife or pizza cutter into 1″ squares. You can make them as big or small as you want. To prevent the individual marshmallows from sticking together, roll them in a light dusting of powdered sugar, just so that all 6 sides are covered.

And here’s a thought if you’re wanting to make mini-marshmallows. Instead of putting the entire mixture into one pan, put the batter into a piping bag and pipe small dots onto a powdered sugar coated cookie sheet. Then let them set in the fridge.

See?! Homemade marshmallows are not as difficult to make as one may think. You can keep them in an airtight container for 1 week, so they’re easy to make ahead of time. But when you’re done, you have an extra special topper for your sweet potato casserole or a simple but impressive addition to the dessert table.

PS. How cute is this mini-cake stand? A wedding gift from my bestie/maid of honor, Michele!
PS. How cute is this mini-cake stand? A wedding gift from my bestie/maid of honor, Michele!

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