[Original publication date: April 30, 2012]
Readers, making candy is a blast. It’s all the best parts of cooking and science rolled into one, with a delightful treat at the end. Today, join me in my pantry raid as we make some spectacular homemade marshmallows. With embellishments. Oh yeah.
Stuff You Should Know Before You Start
1. Hot sugar is hot. Treat it with respect.
2. You will make a god-awful mess. Have some wet paper towels in a dish close by.
3. You need to own a candy thermometer. If you’ve been making candy for a while, or learned how to make candy from someone born early in the 20th century, you may know how to check the stage of your sugar by dropping it in water. I like to rely on my thermometer, because I can never remember what properties of the hot sugar match what stages.
4. You also need a deep pan with a thick bottom. See point 1. Hot sugar is hotter than boiling, it does not fuck around. Respect the hot sugar.
Preparation is key. Candy making is half waiting around and half GO! GO! GO!. Make sure your GO! times go well by prepping everything in advance.
1. Line your pan of choice with a layer of foil, then use a sifter to liberally coat it with either corn starch or powdered sugar. Really get it on there, that’s going to be the only thing between you enjoying your marshmallows and you scrubbing your pan for an hour and losing half the sweet, sticky booty.
2. Get out your mixer, if you have one. If you don’t, find a friend who has one, unless you have biceps that could crush cans. Either a hand or stand mixer will do, but I’d have faith in whatever equipment you use. By the time you’re finished mixing, the batter will be thick and unwieldy.
- 3 envelopes or 3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
- 1 C. water
- 2 C. granulated sugar
- ½ C. light corn syrup
- ½ C. hot water
- 1 t. vanilla extract or the seeds from one vanilla bean.
- pinch of salt
- copious amounts of non-stick spray and either corn starch or powdered sugar
- ½ C. Nutella
- 6 oz. toasted coconut
1. Put gelatin in a bowl and pour 1 cup water on top. Make sure all the gelatin has soaked up the water (called “blooming”) before you add your hot sugar. Place the bowl on your mixer and insert the beaters or the whisk attachment.
2. Mix the corn syrup, granulated sugar and ½ cup hot water in your trustworthy and thick-bottomed pan and heat on medium-low until the sugar is completely dissolved. Note: This takes a long-ass time. Put on some good stirring music. Stir continually, and make sure the granulated sugar doesn’t burn.
3. When the sugar is completely dissolved, turn up the heat and continue to stir until the mixture starts to boil. Clip your candy thermometer to the side and step back. You want the hot sugar to be at 250° F (121° C.) This won’t take very long, maybe 5 minutes or so. Remove the candy thermometer and put it down on something it can’t burn. If you’re using a stand mixer, put it on the lowest setting in the gelatin ooze. Using pot holders, very carefully pour the hot sugar down the side of the mixer bowl so it doesn’t splash up (Ack!) or ruin the magic of the gelatin. Mix on low until everything is blended and resembles something more akin to swamp water than delicious marshmallow. If you’re using a hand mixer or going at it with a whisk, you’ll obviously need to pour, then mix.
4. Rev up your mixer and beat the crap out of your ‘mallow mix until it’s super fluffy and the consistency of marshmallow fluff. Toss in a pinch of salt and the vehicle for your vanilla and mix for another few seconds to make sure it all works in. By this point in my personal mallow adventure, I had dribbled sugar syrup from the thermometer onto the floor and gotten stuck to it, forcing an awkward sort of lunge and pivot dance to my progress. Mind your sugars, kids, anything that delicious is bound to be complex.
5. Liberally spray a rubber spatula with non-stick spray and dredge in corn starch or powdered sugar, then scoop out the whole lot onto your dredged pan. Working fast, and with a second spatula or spreading tool, smooth the ‘mallow mix across your pan. Let it set for five minutes or so, then coat the top with a generous layer of cornstarch or powdered sugar.
6. Let set, uncovered, overnight.
6a. You’ve got some time to kill, so you should do the dishes. There will be a lot of them.
7. It’s finally tomorrow, and time to take the marshmallows from delightful to amazing.
8. Spray down a knife or pizza cutter with non-stick spray, then dunk in your dredge of choice for good measure. (Note: There’s going to be a lot of corn starch and/or powdered sugar everywhere when you’re done. Don’t look at it as mess, look at it as unlocking a candy making achievement.) Cut your ‘mallow blob into bite sized pieces. Re-dredge your cutting tool between cuts to prevent sticky-induced physical comedy. Roll the individual candies in even more cornstarch or sugar, and arrange on a plate.
9. Spoon a good amount of Nutella into a pastry bag (if you have one) or a zipper top bag, which is what I used. Cut off a tiny corner, and pipe a dollop of Nutella on each individual marshmallow.
10. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, or whatever else strikes your fancy. (I bet these would be amazing with chocolate ganache in place of the Nutella and chili pepper or sea salt in place of the coconut.)