The miracle of homemade marshmallows — the amazing alchemy of gelatin and hot sugar syrup — is a sight to behold. And once you make them, you’ll never go back to jet-puffed marshmallows in plastic bags again.
Watching the ingredients come together is so much fun that you’ll want to get the whole family involved. That said, it’s not without risk; both the hot sugar syrup and the whipping steps — both adults-only tasks — can cause burns, so you need to stay focused while you work.
Mix mugs of rich, delicious hot chocolate, and top them with these sweet, airy treats for a wintry drink you won’t forget. Here’s how it’s done!
1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g.) cornstarch
1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g.) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. unflavored gelatin
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/4 cups (10 oz./315 g.) granulated sugar
1 Tbs. light corn syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1. Get the pan ready
In a bowl, sift together the cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar. Line a 11-by-9-inch (28-by-23-cm.) baking pan with aluminum foil, then lightly oil the foil with canola oil. Sift 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g.) of the sugar mixture into the pan, and tilt to coat the bottom and sides. Leave any excess evenly in the bottom.
2. Dissolve the gelatin
Pour 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water, whisk together, then let stand for 5 minutes to soften. Whisk in the salt and cream of tartar. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
3. Melt the sugar
Put 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) water into a saucepan. Stir in the granulated sugar and the corn syrup. Place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and cook, without stirring, until the mixture turns pale tan, about 250°F (120°C) on a candy thermometer, or firm-ball stage.
4. Add the hot sugar
Turn the mixer on medium speed and drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the gelatin mixture, aiming it between the beater and the side of the bowl. Be very careful!
5. Whip it
Increase the speed to high and whip the mixture until it is white and thick, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until the mixture cools, about 20 minutes.
6. Smooth the marshmallows
Pour into the prepared pan. Dip a palette knife in cold water and smooth the surface. Let a skin form on the surface, about 1 hour. Dust with 1/4 cup of the sugar mixture, and let rest overnight at cool room temperature.
7. Make shapes
Line a pan with parchment paper and dust with the sugar mixture. Dip a cutter into the sugar and cut out marshmallow shapes. Layer the shapes in the pan, dusting with more sugar. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Mix in the following flavorings or colors after the marshmallow mixture becomes white and thick for a fun twist on the classic.
- Cocoa marshmallows: Whip in 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Mint marshmallows: Whip in 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract.
- Rainbow marshmallows: Dye them any color you want with natural or safe food coloring. Add a few drops until you achieve the color intensity desired.
Cut the marshmallows into twelve 1 1/2-inch (4-cm.) squares. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar, tapping off the excess. Place on a rack on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Melt 8 oz. (250 g.) bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler and let cool until warm and still liquid. Ladle the chocolate over the marshmallows, coating as many as you can. Tap the rack against the pan to encourage the excess chocolate to drain off, then refrigerate the marshmallows, still on the rack on the pan, until the chocolate hardens, about 20 minutes. Store the marshmallows in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows
Whole milk makes this decadent drink especially rich, but for less fat, you can use low-fat milk and omit the cream. The life of a marshmallow is fleeting once it hits the hot chocolate, quickly becoming a pool of foamy marshmallow essence. Stir it in and enjoy.
4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l.) whole milk
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) heavy cream
6 oz. (185 g.) bittersweet or milk chocolate, or a mixture of both
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
2-4 Tbs. sugar
Marshmallows for serving
Pour the milk and cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place over medium-high heat, and heat to just below boiling.
Whisk in the chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon, if using, and continue to whisk until the milk is frothy and the chocolate is incorporated. Whisk in the sugar to taste.
Divide among warmed mugs and top each serving with one or two plump marshmallows. Serve right away. Serves 4-6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Family Meals, by Maria Helm Sinskey.