It’s taken three years, but I finally feel like I have made all possible interesting variations of caramel and nut brittle. So, my holiday sweets experimentation for 2017 was making marshmallows. I don’t like sticking to the usual flavors (actually there seems to only be one common flavor of marshmallow), so I whipped up a few batches of cinnamon marshmallows for holiday presents. I did not expect them to be such a hit, as in general, I and most people I know are not especially big fans of marshmallows, but the comparison between homemade marshmallows vs. store bought packaged ones is like watching magic close up and live vs. watching magic on a tiny airplane TV screen (like this one).
Some of my favorite comments in response to eating my cinnamon marshmallows include:
- “I didn’t know you could make marshmallows at home from scratch. Don’t they just come from the store?”
- “I don’t usually like marshmallows, but these are ridiculous.”
- “I’m hiding these from my family.”
- And from someone who never asks me for anything, “Do you have more marshmallows?”
Making marshmallows involves strict adherence to the recipe and no substitution of the main ingredients, so if you tend to improvise and don’t have a candy thermometer, it’s best to skip this one.
Makes 95 one-inch marshmallows
(from Fine Cooking)
3 ounce (3/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/8 ounces (1/4 cup) cornstarch
4 (four) 1/4-ounce packets unflavored powdered gelatin
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, or 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste ( prefer using vanilla bean paste)
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch into a medium bowl.
- Generously coat the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan (preferably one with straight sides) with cooking spray. Dust it well with about 1/4 cup of the sugar-cornstarch mixture, tapping any excess back into the bowl; set aside.
- Put 3/4 cup cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water, and stir until lump-free. Set aside to hydrate, at least 5 minutes.
- Put 1/2 cup cold water, the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon stick in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. If using a vanilla bean, split it and scrape the seeds into the pan; add the pod, too. Stir with a heatproof spatula just to combine (try not to get any sugar on the sides of the pan), then bring to a boil over medium-high heat without stirring. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
- When the syrup reaches 240°F, begin beating the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks form, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn the speed down to low.
- At this point, the syrup should be 250°F. If so, remove the vanilla pod (if using), and remove the cinnamon stick.
- Increase the speed on the mixer to medium low, and carefully pour the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl. (If not, turn the mixer off until the syrup reaches temperature and turn it on before adding the syrup.)
- With the mixer running, break the hydrated gelatin into several pieces, and add it to the bowl one piece at a time, beating until incorporated.
- Increase the mixer speed to high, and beat until the marshmallow is white, thick, and almost tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
- If using vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, add it now. Add the ground cinnamon, beating until just combined.
- Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan, smoothing it into the corners with an offset metal spatula.
- Sift about 1/4 cup of the sugar-cornstarch mixture evenly over the top. Let set at room temperature for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.
- Run the tip of a paring knife around the edge of the baking pan to loosen the marshmallow, and invert the pan onto a large, parchment-lined cutting board. Lift a corner of the pan and carefully free the corner of the marshmallow with your fingers, after which it will fall onto the board. Generously coat a sharp chef’s knife with cooking spray and cut the marshmallow into 1-inch pieces, respraying the knife as needed.
- Gently toss each marshmallow in the remaining confectioners’ sugar mixture to coat, shaking off the excess.
Note: Store the marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.