There is perhaps no Christmas flavor quite so classic as the longtime pairing of rich, decadent chocolate and snappy peppermint. Combine these flavors into a delicious, creamy cup of Christmas cocoa . . . and you have a winner. Today, we are going to make homemade marshmallows. Yes. You can totally make your own marshmallows. And their flavor and texture is so silky and delicious, compared to the store-bought kind, that you’ll wonder how you could have been missing out, for so long. Good luck keeping these fluffy little sweets in stock. Make a batch for yourself, and maybe an extra recipe for your coworkers. No one will be able to believe you made them. And I can’t think of anything that will put you in the Christmas spirit more quickly than laughing with your kids while you make these little sweets (marshmallow “Pictionary” anyone?) and then decorating the tree, enjoying creamy cups of minty hot cocoa.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
(adapted from Allrecipes.com)
3/4 cup water, divided
3 (.25 oz.) packages unflavored gelatin
2/3 cups corn syrup
2 cups white sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1-2 drops pink gel food coloring, optional
Marshmallow Dusting Powder:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
In mixer bowl, combine 1/2 cup lukewarm water and 3 packets of unflavored gelatin. Do not mix. Allow the gelatin to soften and soak up the water while you continue with the next step. In a separate saucepan, combine 1/4 cup remaining water, 2/3 cups corn syrup, and 2 cups sugar. Bring the mixture to a hard boil (the bubbles cannot be stirred away, even with vigorous stirring). Boil the mixture for 1 minute and then remove from heat. Slowly whisk the gelatin and water together with the hot syrup, using the whisk attachment of the mixer. Whip the mixture, slowly at first, and then more quickly as the mixture cools and ceases to splatter, until it is the consistency of marshmallow cream (this takes about 5 minutes). When the mixture has reached this point add in your flavor and color, if you are using it. Dust a parchment-lined 9×9 inch pan with the marshmallow dusting powder (this mixture keeps the marshmallows from sticking). Pour the mixture into the pan, smoothing it out with the spatula, if necessary, and dust it, liberally, again, with marshmallow dusting powder. Allow to sit, uncovered, overnight. Cut desired shapes out of finished marshmallow sheet with cutters or pizza cutter heavily dusted in marshmallow dusting powder, and toss finished marshmallows in dusting powder, to seal their edges.
Whew. This sounds a whole lot more complicated than it is. Let’s take a look at the process in pictures 🙂
To start with, grab yourself some unflavored gelatin. Knox brand is the only kind I’ve ever seen, but there may be others. You will need 3 (.25 oz. each) envelopes.
In your mixer bowl, place 1/2 cup lukewarm water, and sprinkle your unflavored gelatin over the top. It doesn’t look like much, now, but don’t worry . . . magic is brewing. Don’t stir it or anything– just let it go. (Every parent of little kids right now is mentally singing “Let it go! Let it gooooooo!!!”
While you’re . . . ahem . . . “letting it go,” gelatin-wise, go ahead and start your sugar syrup. In a small saucepan, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of water, your 2 cups sugar, and your 2/3 cups corn syrup. Get that heat going and stir it, occasionally. We want this to come to a “rolling boil,” which just basically means that the bubbles will be kind of out of control, and you can’t stir them away. “Rolling, rolling, rolling . . . keep those bubbles rolling!” Goodness. We could start a Broadway show, with all this singing, today.
Now, get your pan ready. You can use a cookie sheet if you want marshmallows that are about 1/2″ thick. You can use a 9×9 square pan if you want them to be big and beautiful (about 1-1.5″ thick). Whatever pan you choose, line it with parchment and dust it with marshmallow dusting powder. Basically, this just means that you combine equal parts powdered sugar and cornstarch, then place some in your trusty sifter and tap the sifter with your hand, allowing a light dusting to cascade out. A fine mesh strainer works, too, if you don’t have a sifter. Coat the entire surface (and sides, as much as you can) with the mixture. The marshmallows will be very sticky, and you want to cut down on their stickiness as much as possible.
Now THAT’S a rolling boil! Stir this mixture, boiling like this, for 1 minute, and then remove it from the heat.
Your gelatin should now resemble Aunt Clara’s nasty leftover egg casserole . . . congealed and not at all attractive. That’s OK. We’re about to work some magic and change all that. Place your whisk attachment onto your mixer and, while keeping the speed on low, gradually add your hot syrup to the gelatin mixture. See how I have dripped syrup down the side of the bowl? If you pour the syrup down the side, rather than directly into the whisk, you will avoid getting splashed as much with hot syrup. That’s what we want.
When all of your syrup is combined, turn your speed up a little. The mixture will thicken as you go . . . continue to speed up, but not so much that you splash and burn yourself, until you are going at a medium high speed. The mixture needs to be whisked at this speed for roughly 5 minutes, until it has a chance to cool and get very thick. It should be about the consistency of . . . well, of marshmallow cream. Imagine that.
When your mixture reaches this consistency, go ahead and add your extracts and color, if desired. I added about 1 drop of pink gel color, for light, baby pink marshmallows to complement my peppermint flavor. If you want plain marshmallows, leave out the peppermint extract and pink coloring. Whisk until these add-ins are combined.
*Note: To make cleanup a snap, soak your bowl, beaters, etc, in warm water for about 5 minutes before attempting to wash. You’re welcome.
Pour your mixture into the prepared, parchment-lined, dusted baking pan. Smooth the top with your spatula, if you need to. I found that mine settled nicely into a flat surface, without my having to mess with it, too much.
Dust the top liberally with marshmallow dusting powder. And then . . . let it sit overnight. Yep. Don’t cover it. Don’t mess with it. Just . . . let it go.
The next day, remove your marshmallow square, parchment and all, out of the pan. Peel open the sides, and you have the world’s biggest single marshmallow. You can either cut out shapes, with cutters heavily dusted with the powder, or you can use a pizza cutter (also dusted in powder) to cut squares (or diamonds). Go slowly and have fun. Toss your finished marshmallows in a bag of the dusting powder to make sure that their edges are dusted and not sticky.
And that’s all there is to it! You can store these marshmallows in an airtight container (layers divided by parchment paper) for up to 4 weeks, but I doubt they will last that long. Supposedly, you can freeze these, also, but I’ve never tried. Take them to your next office party and enjoy the reactions: “You can MAKE marshmallows?!?!?” or make a nice batch for your friends, for Christmas, and combine with some hot cocoa mix and a Christmas mug. Or just have one, yourself, in a decadent cup of minty hot chocolate. You deserve it.
Because you did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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