Monday, December 19, 2011

Marshmallows, Take II

After posting my Hot Cocoa link on Facebook, one of my many awesome cousins, Meghan, asked if I had tried Marshmallows.  I told her I had, but they were horrible, so she offered her favorite recipe plus a few tips so I could try again.
Homemade hot cocoa with a homemade marshmallow.

The recipe comes from Martha Stewart, back in 1996.  It’s really not so different from the AltonBrown recipe.  Though I followed them loosely, Meghan's tips were definitely helpful:

1.       Watch the candy thermometer closely.
2.        Pour out onto a silicone sheet.  Dust top and sides with cornstarch then flip and coat that side. This makes everything a lot less sticky for cutting.
3.       Coat scissors with vegetable oil then cut over a bowl of cornstarch so they fall in there. Fish them out and shake off excess powder. (using cornstarch instead of confectioner's sugar helps to keep them from becoming overly sweet)

You will need

2 ½ Tablespoons unflavored gelatin -about 3 packets of Knox ($1.79 per 4 packets, $1.79 x .75 = $1.34)

1 ½ cups granulated sugar ($3.67 per 5 lb, $3.67/80 oz = $.05 x 11.25 oz = $.52)

1 cup light corn syrup ($2.49 per 16 oz, $2.49/2 = $1.25)

¼ tsp salt ($.47 per 26 oz, $.47/ 30.69 tsp = $.02/4 = less than $.01)

1 Tbsp (homemade) vanilla- recipe called for more ($.01 per ml, $.01 x 14.7867648 ml = $.15)

Confectioner’s sugar or corn starch for dusting
Watching the thermometer with all the patience I could muster!

Steaming mixer
Beautifully glossy mallow.

I followed the recipe closely, up until the part where you pour it into an 8 x12 glass baking dish.  I couldn’t find my silicon mat, and I didn’t have a glass 8 x 12, so I heavily dusted a 9 x 11 metal cake pan with confectioner’s sugar, patted out the mallow with confectioner’s and wet hands like it said, and let it sit overnight…. Okay, more like 22 hours, I got distracted what with the holidays and visiting family.  Then I pried it out of the pan with a long icing knife (it did not release easily).  

I cut it with a chef's knife; I wanted them to look uniform because if they turned out well, I would gift them.  Working in batches I tossed the cubes of mallow in a lidded bowl of cornstarch.  To shake off the excess I rolled them in my palms like they were cookie dough balls.
My block of marshmallow turned out onto the cutting board
My messy but effective cubing process
They were easy to make, not a hassle.  But I have two big issues with food in general, made a little ridiculous with pregnancy: 
1.       I am very smell sensitive, always has been.
2.       I have weird issues with texture, which is why I don’t care for shrimp or fish roe or jello. 

What does this have to do with marshmallows?  Well, I never got over the smell of the gelatin.  I thought it was a good idea that there was a full day between the making and the tasting, hoping that the memory of the smell would fade.  Not so.  As for texture, it was actually quite nice.  I think watching the thermometer like Meghan suggested helped that a lot. 

In the end, I just didn’t care for them.  To me, they just taste like barn.  I don’t think that other people taste what I taste, though.  My sister liked the first batch, and my mother-in-law liked these okay, too.  I think it’s just me!

Try It:

$3.26 for 26.4oz, or $.12/oz.

Buy It:

$.97 for 10oz, or $.09/oz for store brand regular sized marshmallows. 


I think for my personal use, I’ll Buy It.  Other people seem to like them, so I think I’ll still gift them, but this is the last time I try gelatin based marshmallows.


  1. possibly it's the sugar we like of the marshmallow taste? a cornstarch dusting doesn't sound at all appealing to me--kind of like barn! But who am I to talk? Marshmallows was pretty much the ONLY thing I didn't like as a child.

  2. I've thought about making these too. Glad to read your experience. I'll keep this in my back pocket. There is usually corn starch in powdered sugar. Maybe if you added a bit more to the sugar and used that instead of straight cornstarch to dust it would be sweet, but not too sweet. Just a thought.

  3. Its not the cornstarch that is the problem for me, it's that once I've smelled hot gelatin, I can't not taste it in the final product. I don't have a problem with store bought marshmallows, though, so I think it's a personal problem!