Sometimes, the hypocrisy of my laziness astounds me.
I’ve been craving homemade marshmallows. Marshmallows are something I’ve been wanting to make ever since I knew you could. I first tasted a homemade marshmallow without realizing what it was. An aunt who always leaned toward the gourmet brought them to a Christmas party with a mini chocolate fountain back when chocolate fountains were all the rage. They were oddly shaped (square! not squatty ovals!) and they were light and fluffy. Years later, when I saw a recipe in David Lebovitz’s A Perfect Scoop, I realized what I had partaken of, and determined that one day, I, too, would be able to make marshmallows.
My first two attempts at marshmallows did not pan out. Neither were David Lebovitz’s recipe, so maybe that’s where I went wrong. The first relied on the cold water test for candy, which I thought was a safer bet since I cook at a high altitude and was worried about converting the temperature. They were a bit rubbery, but tasted good. The next was a Dorie Greenspan recipe, and they were better, but still a bit tougher than I expected. I wondered if I would ever succeed at making marshmallows. And after two semi-failed attempts, one would think I would throw in the towel.
But, perfection beckoned me. Seven-minute frosting is the stuff of (my) dreams (though I’ve never personally made it…). Jet-puffed just doesn’t cut it. So, when I saw a recipe in my new America’s Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook, I knew I had to try their version. One thing I noticed that I had not done with the other recipes was to whip for the full 12 minutes. Their recipe noted that it was imperative to whip the marshmallow until the bowl was still just slightly warm. I’d always worried about over-beating it, but I guess that’s not really the issue as much as under-beating is.
I gave it another go, telling myself that if it didn’t work, I’d call it quits, once and for all. Luckily, since I had already had some practice, it was actually easier to make and it went quite quickly. The hardest part was waiting for them to firm up overnight. I opted to try a coconut version with coconut extract, and the marshmallow that I had licked off my spatula and whisk attachment was deliciously light. I had visions of coconut marshmallows covered in chocolate and was antsy to try them.
The next morning, after breakfast, I unmolded them and cut the marshmallows into squares before tossing them with cornstarch and powdered sugar. I popped one in my mouth and knew I had found the one. The right recipe. They were fluffier than I’d ever imagined they could be! And so easy. And then, I got too lazy to dip them in chocolate. My dreams of chocolate-coconut heaven lost out to a lack of motivation, while I silently laughed at myself for having the energy and zeal to make marshmallows from scratch–marshmallows!–but not being motivated enough to dip them in chocolate.
I’ll be making them again, definitely. Although, I might try adding some lemon extract. Or maybe almond…and maybe one day, I won’t be too lazy to dip them in chocolate.
recipe from America’s Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook
- 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin (3 packets Knox gelatin)
- 2/3 cup corn syrup
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla (or extract of your choice)
Make a foil sling for a 9×13 baking pan by laying two sheets of aluminum foil perpendicular to each other with extra foil hanging over the edges. Smooth the foil as much as possible, then spray with vegetable oil. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch together in a bowl and set aside.
Pour 1/2 cup water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over the water. Let stand until the gelatin becomes very firm, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Carefully pour the granulated sugar and salt into the center of the pan, keeping it away from the sides. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, gently swirling the pan, until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture registers 240 degrees (or the adjusted temperature for your altitude, mine was 231). About 10 minutes, depending on how hot your stove heats.
Turn the mixer to low and carefully pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture, avoiding the sides of the bowl. Gradually increase your mixer speed to high and whip until the mixture is very thick and stiff, 10-12 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Add the extract will seem to deflate the marshmallow mixture; don’t worry! They’ll still be light and springy.
Working quickly, scrape the marshmallow into the prepared pan evenly and smooth the top. Sift 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixture over the pan. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature to firm up. Do not discard the remaining cornstarch mixture!
Lightly dust a cutting board with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixture and lightly coat a chef’s knife with cooking spray. Turn the marshmallow out onto the cutting board and cut into 1-inch cubes. Working with a few at a time, toss the marshmallows into the remaining cornstarch mixture to coat. Place in a small fine-mesh strainer and toss to remove excess powder. Keep marshmallows in a ziplock bag for up to 2 weeks, if they last that long.