A few posts ago, when I was writing about making sugar cookies for Easter, I promised a post on marshmallows as a way to use up all the leftover egg whites. I first made homemade marshmallow during my Stage in southern France. They were the first thing I was trusted to make. He showed me what I was going to be making and I said, “Oh, marshmallows.” The Chef quickly responded with, “NO! Guimauve!” And he was right these treats are nothing like the bagged version we buy in North American grocery stores!
I love homemade marshmallows! Guests are always “wowed” by them, (although once they see how easy they are they may not be as impressed) and you can easily customize them with booze, fruit, nuts and chocolate. We just hosted a large summer cocktail party and I made marshmallows inspired by cocktails. We had Bee’s Knees, Perfect Storm, Bare Back and Blackberry Daiquiri Marshmallows!!
Some may not consider homemade marshmallows simple because there is a candy thermometer involved, but just follow these tips and you will be making these more than you expected!
- Separate your eggs carefully! Any fat (in other words, little bits of yolk or oily residue on your bowl) will prevent your eggs from whipping. Cold eggs are easier to separate than room temperature, so separate your eggs while they are cold and let the whites come to room temperature before starting your marshmallows.
- Your egg whites should be at room temperature. Room temperature egg whites will beat up to a greater volume because the proteins are relaxed. When you are whipping egg whites you are forcing air in between those proteins!
- Make sure you dissolve your gelatin in cold water sprinkling it over the surface of the water. Don’t leave it in a big pile, or the centre will not get hydrated. When you are dissolving the gelatin, do not let it boil as this will break down its ability to set.
- Light corn syrup is used in candy making to prevent the recrystallization of sugar. In a professional pastry kitchen, we would use an equal amount of glucose. Do not substitute another sweetener as it may not have the same affect.
- It is important to whip the marshmallows until completely cool otherwise you may end up with a sticky, damp mess on the bottom of your marshmallows. However, if you beat too long past the point when they are cool, your mixture will start to set and be hard to spread out and you may lose some of the soft, cloudy texture of perfect marshmallows.
- The finished marshmallows are tossed in a 50/50 mixture of cornstarch and icing sugar. The cornstarch is important here as it will absorb any excess moisture. Icing sugar would also absorb the liquid, but then it will start to dissolve making your marshmallows sticky.
- When storing marshmallows, moisture is your enemy! Make sure the cut marshmallows are well coated in the cornstarch-icing sugar mix and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
17g (2 tbsp) powdered gelatin
125g (½ cup) cold water & 80g (⅓ cup) cold water
200g (1 cup) sugar
100g (⅓ cup) light corn syrup
110 g (½ cup or about 4 large) egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of Kosher salt
10 ml (2 tsp) vanilla extract or vanilla paste
marshmallow coating mixture:
140g (1 cup) cornstarch
140g (1 cup) icing sugar
Make the marshmallow mixture by whisking together the cornstarch and icing sugar. Set aside. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the 125g (½ cup) cold water. Set aside.
Place the 80g of water in a small saucepan, stir in sugar and the corn syrup. Fit pan with a candy thermometer and place over medium-to-high heat. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low speed until frothy. Add the pinch of kosher salt. When the syrup reaches about 105°C (221°F), increase the speed of the mixer to high and beat the whites until they are thick and fluffy.
When the syrup reaches 118°C (245°F) remove it from the heat and reduce mixer speed to medium-high. With the mixer running, slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the mixing bowl into the whites.
Add the gelatin mixture to the pan you just made the syrup in. There should be enough residual heat in the pan to melt the mixture. It should be clear with no visible gelatin granules. Pour the liquefied gelatin slowly into the whites as they are whipping. Add the vanilla and continue to whip until the mixture feels completely cool when you touch the outside of the bowl, about 5 minutes.
Use a fine sifter to dust a baking sheet evenly and completely with a generous layer of the marshmallow coating mixture making sure there are absolutely no bare spots. Use a spatula to spread the marshmallows in a layer on the pan. You can also simply drop spoonfuls of the marshmallow on to the prepared pan. Set pan on the counter and allow to dry, uncovered, overnight.
Dust the top of the marshmallows with some of the marshmallow mixture. Place remaining marshmallow mixture in bowl. Use a pizza cutter, cookie cutter or scissors (dusted as well with the marshmallow mixture) to cut the marshmallows into any size or shape pieces that you’d like and toss the marshmallows in the marshmallow mixture. Shake the marshmallows vigorously in a wire strainer to remove the excess powder.
- Dissolve the gelatin in 125g (½ cup) of water with fruit juice, tea or coffee instead of water.
- Dissolve the gelatin in a mixture of 62g (¼ cup) of water and 62g (¼ cup) of liquor or liqueur.
- Add 5 to 10 ml (1 to 2 tsp) of ground spices, like cinnamon or cardamom with vanilla.
- Just before spreading marshmallow into pan, gently fold up to 95ml (¾ cup) chopped chocolate or nuts
- Just after spreading marshmallows in pan, drop about 125g ( ½ cup) of pureed fruit on top of marshmallows and swirl through. NOTE: this variation will reduce the shelf life of your marshmallows to 2 days.
adapted from David Lebovitz