There’s a time and a place for premade marshmallows, like camping trips or making s’mores with a gaggle of kids. But during the holidays, we opt for homemade. They’re far more luscious and decadent — fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth delights with rich, bourbon-y vanilla bean flavor. And while most marshmallows are made with corn syrup, we don’t even use a drop of the stuff.
A few tips from the test kitchen: Once your marshmallow sugars come to a boil, put a lid on the pot. Steam will condense around the interior, drip down, and prevent crystals from forming in the sugar. Also, when it comes time to cut the marshmallows, well-buttered knives and our patented no-stick powder (powdered sugar and cornstarch) will be your best friend. (Believe us, these marshmallows are sticky.)
Whipping up some homemade marshmallows is a fun activity to do with the kids. Once the very hot sugar work is out of the way, bring the little ones in for some mixing and cutting (or just some eating). You might even give them cookie cutters to make fun shapes — go for the simple shapes (think hearts, not snowflakes), and butter and dust the cutters, too. Another option: cut them super small to make mini mallows!
Hot cocoa, s’mores, and sweet afternoon treats — these beauties make your standard marshmallow fare a touch more luxe. We like to make them for holiday soirées for exactly that reason. Need a hostess gift or a little something for your coworkers? Put a few homemade marshmallows in a cello bag, tie it up with a sparkly ribbon, and get ready for some oohs and aahs.
Yield: 25 1½” marshmallows
Generously grease an 8x8” pan, an offset spatula, and a rubber spatula with butter. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup cold water and stir to combine. Let it sit for a few minutes to bloom.
In a medium pot, combine the sugar, agave syrup, and remaining ½ cup water. Bring the syrup to a boil over medium-high heat. Gently swirl the pan to evenly distribute the heat. Cover the saucepan with a lid, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Attach a sugar thermometer to the side of the saucepan, and cook the sugar syrup, uncovered, until it reaches 242º. Immediately remove from the heat.
Using a whisk attachment on medium-low speed, slowly pour the syrup down the wall of the bowl and into the gelatin.
Add a pinch of salt, and increase the speed to medium-high. Beat for 3 to 5 minutes until the marshmallow has doubled in size and is white, fluffy, and smooth. Increase the speed to high, and mix for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the marshmallow is 3 times its original size.
Add the vanilla paste, and mix for 1 more minute on high speed.
Using the greased spatula, transfer the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Spread it evenly in the pan using the greased offset spatula.
Using a sieve, sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over the top of the marshmallow and allow it to set for at least 4 hours at room temperature.
To make the dusting powder: Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the powdered sugar and cornstarch together. Grease a knife or scissors with butter. Set aside.
Once the marshmallow has set, generously dust your work surface with the dusting powder, and turn out the marshmallow onto the surface. Using the greased knife or scissors, cut the marshmallow into 5 rows and cut each of the 5 rows in 5 pieces, creating 25 1½” square marshmallows. Note: Regrease your knife as needed throughout the cutting process. Sticky!
Using a sieve, sprinkle the dusting powder over the cut marshmallows and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Recipe adapted from: The Flavor Bender