For about two weeks I’ve been eyeing the weather in Indianapolis, coveting every centimeter of fluffy, wet, snow ball-making snow that falls to the ground. You can imagine how green I became when they got at least half a foot of the beautiful white stuff last weekend. For awhile weather.com tempted me with 30% and 40% chances of snow for Christmas day. But now it’s back down to a measly 10%. Damnit. No one loves snow more than a born and raised Texan who only gets to see it every 4 or 5 years. Coming in a close second to the B&R Texan are my northern in-laws who get the biggest kick watching B&R Texan roll around in about 1 inch of snow like it was money.
Lucky for me I managed to find a fluffy white distraction to all that fluffy white stuff they’re getting in Indy: homemade marshmallows. Foodies have been singing their praises for years–how they’re fresher, sweeter and have better texture than the store bought varieties. But until this year I hadn’t really been inspired to give them a try. And to be honest I really don’t know why I decided to give it a go this year. Perhaps some of my Thanksgiving spirit of trying something new has spilling over into Christmas. Whatever the reason, I am so glad I did give these a shot because they’re everything you’ve heard they can be and then some. Unfortuantely for me I was saving the marshmallows for Christmas goodie bags, so I didn’t get to try my them in different concoctions. But judging from how good they were on their own, I can only imagine what they can do for s’mores, ambrosia, hot chocolate, sweet potatoes and that cherry pink stuff my mom always makes at Christmas.
I know the idea of making your own marshmallows can be a bit daunting, but don’t be intimidated by the them. They are quite simple and the only “hard” work involved is monitoring the temperature of your boiling sugar/corn syrup. Oh and they do require a bit of attention so that you don’t burn yourself on 240F syrup. I can say from experience that this is not fun, and you will feel a bit ridiculous afterwards. These would also be a great snow day project for kids. You will obviously have to monitor them, but I have no doubt that they will be amazed and entertained by how the marshmallow mixture “grows” in your KitchenAid. You could also let them have at the set up block ‘o marshmallow with cookie cutters, rather than using a pizza cutter for plain old squares.
About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2-4 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 hot water (about 115°F.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites*
1 teaspoon vanilla**
Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.
In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand to soften.
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, hot 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°F., about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
With standing or a 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 cleaned beaters beat 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 confectioners- 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 and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up 1 corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and let drop onto cutting board. With a pizza cutter cut marshmallow into roughly 1-inch cubes. Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing to evenly coat. Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.
*if egg safety is a problem in your area, substitute powdered egg whites reconstituted according to manufacturer’s instructions*
**I use almost 2 tsps. of vanilla in order to get a strong vanilla flavor. I really like these with more vanilla, but be forewarned, they will turn out a dingier shade of white than you’d get with the recommended 1 tsp.**