The Best Homemade Gift: Marshmallows

Calvin took presents to school for his teachers this week. We sent homemade hot cocoa kits, complete with homemade marshmallows. One of his teachers emailed and asked for the recipe. I have since talked to her and she is intimidated by it. I tried to talk her into it, but I don’t think she was convinced that she could do it.

I have to admit that we were intimidated by the recipe when we first got it. Rich had a co-worker that made marshmallows every year and gave him the recipe. We let the recipe sit on the counter for weeks before finally decideding that we would try it. After all, what was the worst that would happen? We would make a mess and not get any marshmallows out of it.

We were so impressed with ourselves when we finally made them. They worked, we didn’t make a huge mess, and they were spectacular! Nothing like commercial marshmallows, other than they were white. Homemade marshmallows truly leave store marshmallows in the dust.

And let me tell you, they make really impressive gifts. Especially if you make Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows (recipe follows). Absolutely beautiful in a clear gift bag. And the lucky recipient will be so impressed that you actually MADE marshmallows!

There is nothing really hard about the process, but it is different, especially if you haven’t made candy before. You will need to get a candy thermometer, but you can buy one in the grocery store baking aisle for less than $10. And you will need unflavored gelatin, which is right next to the Jello. Knox is the most common variety, at least in my grocery store. And don’t worry about the mess. When you cook anything with sugar, all it takes is a soak in a sink of hot water and all the sugary mess dissolves away.

If you need encouragement, these melt on top of hot cocoa to form the lightest, most vanilla-flavored foam you have ever tasted. They melt beautifully in an oven s’more (place a graham cracker, topped with a small square of chocolate and a marshmallow on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees in the oven or a toaster oven for a few minutes, until the marshmallow is toasted and melty.) Or they are delicious to just eat. Enjoy! And be sure to post your results when you try them.

Marshmallows
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (Knox is the most common brand)
1/3 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla
Cooking spray

Coat a 9 X 13 inch baking pan lightly with cooking spray and line with parchment or waxed paper. Spray parchment lightly and set aside. Spray a sturdy spatula with cooking spray and set aside.

Pour 1/3 cup cold water into bowl of electric mixer. Sprinkle with gelatin, let mixture soften, while you do the next step.

Place sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/3 cup cold water in medium saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove lid, cook, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup reaches 238 degrees (soft-ball stage) – about ten minutes from the time you turn the heat on.

With mixer on low speed, mix gelatin mixture and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl to avoid splattering. Gradually raise speed to high, beat until mixture is thick, white and has almost tripled in volume, 8-15 minutes. Time will depend on how powerful your mixer is. A handheld mixer will take closer to 15 minutes, a stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid will take less time. Add vanilla, beat 30 seconds to combine.

Scrape mixture into prepared pan and smooth with greased spatula. Work quickly, it gets sticky. Let stand at room temp, uncovered, until firm (at least three hours, preferably overnight).

Turn out on a surface dusted heavily with equal parts cornstarch and powdered sugar. Liberally dust marshmallows with more cornstarch and powdered sugar. Cut into small squares with a pizza cutter.

Store in a zip-top bag, making sure there is enough of the cornstarch/powdered sugar mix to keep them from sticking to each other.  They keep up to 1 month, if they last that long.

Makes about 50, depending on size.

Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows
1/2-1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 homemade marshmallows (pick your prettiest ones)
Waxed paper or parchment paper

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave in 30 second increments until chips are melted and smooth. Brush any excess cornstarch/powdered sugar off marshmallows. Dip half of each marshmallow in chocolate, allowing excess to drip back into the bowl. Gently place on waxed paper/parchment paper and let cool and harden. Peel off paper when hard and store at room temperature, in a sealed container.

Download the recipe here.

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2 thoughts on “The Best Homemade Gift: Marshmallows

    • Each kit had 8 of the marshmallows and 4 Cocoa Blocks from a recipe by King Arthur Flour.
      The blocks weren’t as decadent as we thought they would be given the amount of chocolate. I would probably do a homemade dry cocoa mix the next time.

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