Traditional Vanilla Marshmallows
These marshmallows are light and gooey. Pack them into a 13-by-2-inch pan for thicker, cubed candies or use a flatter 15-by-10-inch baking pan for thinner marshmallows. Yield will vary by candy thickness and size of cutouts. Also, feel free to use peppermint, cinnamon or coconut extract instead of vanilla to create a variation on the traditional snack. The recipe is adapted from Gourmet (December 1998).
1 cup powdered sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Oil bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-by-2-inch rectangular metal baking pan or 15-by-10-inch baking pan and dust bottom and sides with a little powdered sugar. In a standing electric mixer or a large bowl, add the cold water, sprinkle with gelatin and let stand to soften.
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, warm water and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240 degrees, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
With a standing or hand-held electric mixer, beat mixture on high speed until white, thick and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. In a large bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and sift 1/4 cup powdered sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Run a thin knife around edges of pan to loosen marshmallow. You may invert the tray and lay the marshmallow on a large board, or simply cut out shapes while still in the pan. Use cookie cutters or cut into strips and, lifting the strip out of the pan, use scissors to make several marshmallow rectangles or cubes. Sift remaining powdered sugar into a large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing to evenly coat. Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature for a week.
Swirling colors on top of the marshmallows is a great way to make the candy more festive and unusual. If you prefer not to use artificial food coloring, natural food coloring is available from Nature's Flavors, India Tree, Seelect Tea or Chefmaster Natural Coloring. Of course, you can also take a crack at making your own with natural herbs and vegetables such as beets and tumeric.
1 teaspoon food coloring (color of your choice)
Prepare Traditional Vanilla Marshmallows up to the point of pouring the marshmallow mixture into the baking pan. Smooth the mixture and add small drops of the desired dye. Then, using a toothpick or edge of a knife, swirl the color on top. When the desired pattern is created, continue with the instructions for Traditional Vanilla Marshmallows above, sprinkling with powdered sugar and placing in refrigerator.
Later, once cut into shapes and covered with powdered sugar, wipe the marshmallows with a dry cloth to reveal the color underneath.
What could be better than adding chocolate directly to the marshmallow? Dipping your already-made marshmallows into rich chocolate makes these treats perfect for candy bowls at holiday parties or as gifts to package and send. Top with additional flavorings of your choice, such as shredded coconut or crushed peppermint, if you like.
12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut (optional)
1/2 cup peppermint candy, such as candy canes or Starlight mints, crushed (optional)*
1 batch Traditional Vanilla Marshmallows
First, make sure all marshmallows are cut and covered in powdered sugar. Smooth off the sugar to be sure there are no bumps.
Cover a plate or cookie sheet with plastic wrap or parchment paper to set the chocolate-covered marshmallows on.
Create a double boiler by covering a saucepan filled with boiling water with a glass or metal bowl. Pour in the chocolate chips and stir continuously. When the chocolate is almost melted, turn off the heat and continue stirring. Do not let the chocolate burn. Dip the marshmallows into the chocolate. (I often balance the marshmallow between two spoons to dip and cover). Do this quickly, or the marshmallow will melt.
If you would like to add sweetened coconut or sprinkles, place the marshmallow on the plate or cookie sheet and add the desired topping. For peppermint topping, it is best to first place the crushed peppermint in a bowl. Dip the chocolate-covered marshmallow in the bowl so that the peppermint pieces stick to it, and then place it on parchment. This keeps the peppermint from sticking to your hands or utensils.
Chill for at least 1 hour or until hardened.
*To crush the peppermints, place the candy in a closed plastic bag on a sturdy surface. Using the bottom of a pot or pan, crush the candy until it is broken into small pieces, then place in a bowl for dipping.