Homemade snacks: Marshmallows

For me, the first real sign of Spring isn’t the warm weather, the blooming flowers or even the tiny, baby animals. Living in San Francisco, these are all fickle signs of the weather anyhow.   No, it never truly feels like Spring until the first time I pop in to Walgreens and see a whole aisle dedicated to Spring’s most glorious contribution: Easter Candy.  It’s only then that I really know that Winter is on its way out and sunshiny days are in the future.

I don’t eat much candy anymore, but I still feel a nostalgic pull towards the robin’s eggs in pastel colors you could lick before applying the candy shell as lipstick.   The Styrofoam cartons of chocolate covered marshmallow eggs and cheap chocolate bunnies with sugar button eyes call out to me too.  I steer clear of these now due to their being filled with nasty dyes, hydrogenated oils and other fillers, but I still miss them.  The one thing I always do allow myself is one Cadbury egg because it just wouldn’t feel like Easter without them.   That was before I saw this recipe for Cadbury Brownies and not I’m not sure they are safe around me anymore.

Find the recipe here.

I decided to avert disaster and take on a less sinful treat that still had all the sugar I craved and also heralded the changing of the seasons.  I made beautiful, fluffy marshmallows and every bite into their soft interior through their fine layer of sugar dust reminds me of overflowing Easter baskets and egg hunts.  Even if you’re not a marshmallow fan, give this recipe a try and I promise you’ll be a convert to the real thing.

Vanilla Marshmallows

9×13 baking pan
4-quart sauce pan
candy thermometer
standing mixer with a wire whisk attachment

3 tablespoons (usually 3 packets) unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup corn syrup
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Grease your entire baking pan and sprinkle a fine layer of powdered sugar on the bottom and all sides.

To bloom the gelatin, measure the gelatin powder into your mixer bowl.  Combine the water and vanilla in a measuring cup and pour this over the gelatin while whisking gently with a fork. Continuing stirring until there are no more large lumps.

Combine the water, corn syrup, salt, and sugar in a sauce pan stirring to incorporate the ingredients. Place this over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, do not stir.  Cover the pan for 2 minutes once the mixture is at a boil so the steam can wash the sides and the sugar won’t crystallize.

Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the sauce pan and continue boiling until the sugar mixture reaches 250°F.

With the mixer on medium speed, gently and carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl with the gelatin. The mixture may foam up – just go slowly and carefully. When all the syrup has been added, whip for 10-12 minutes, until it looks like glossy meringue.

When you’re finished mixing, lower the speed to medium and lift the whisk partway out of the bowl so it spins off as much marshmallow mix as possible. Using a spatula, scrape the marshmallow mixture into the pan. This stuff is very thick and sticky, so don’t worry about getting every last bit out of the bowl.

Wet your fingers and smooth the top so it’s even. Let the mixture sit out uncovered for 12-15 hours to set and cure.

Marshmallow Coating
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch

Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a bowl.

Sprinkle the top of the cured marshmallows with powdered sugar mix and turn them out onto your work surface. USing your fingers, gently pry the marshmallows from the pan. Sprinkle more powdered sugar mixture over the top.

Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the marshmallows into squares. It helps to dip your knife in water every few cuts. Toss each square in the powdered sugar mix so all the sides are evenly coated.

Marshmallows will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks. Leftover marshmallow coating can be stored in a sealed container indefinitely.


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