How to Make Marshmallows
One of the questions that we regularly get here at Elegantly, Gluten-Free is whether marshmallows are gluten-free. The short but full answer is…generally, but not always. And, we tell visitors who ask that question that they need to talk to the marshmallow manufacturer to find out whether their favorite brand is, in fact, gluten free.
That, of course, is a less than satisfactory answer for many people even though it is the truth.
So, what Al and I decided to do was explain how YOU can become the manufacturer by making your own marshmallows with a fairly easy marshmallow recipe that I found on the internet. That way, if you have a gluten reaction because of the marshmallows, you can fix the problem yourself.
I can’t remember if I’ve ever met someone who didn’t like marshmallows so I chose a relatively easy recipe that I believe almost everyone with any cooking/baking experience at all can probably make. Just remember that technically marshmallows are candy so you will need the following tools:
- Stand Mixer (a portable mixer probably won’t work for these)
- Baking Sheet or Pan
- Several Bowls, Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Candy Thermometer
- Sifter, Whisk, Spatula, Spoons, etc.
- Pizza Cutter, Kitchen Scissors, Cookie Cutters or Sharp Knife
Because they are candy, you must be careful with the the times I say you need to spend doing a step and you need to be VERY careful to be fairly exact with the temperature something needs to be cooked at. Otherwise, instead of creamy, delicious homemade marshmallows to serve to your family and guests, you may end up with marshmallow flavored rock candy or creamy soup. Please, don’t be paranoid about it but do try your best to be exact.
Also, Al thought the marshmallows we made together (yes, believe it or not, Al actually helped) were a bit bland. I thought that they tasted great… Different strokes and all that… So, if they aren’t exactly the flavor that you want, have some fun and experiment until it’s the way that you want it.
Finally, I think this would be a great experience to share with children of the right age. They will have a great time that they can have bragging rights about at school, you will have a bonding moment with “yer young’n” and everyone involved will make a memory together that will last a lifetime!
I, like most people, absolutely love marshmallows.
And, for good reason…
… Marshmallows are a delight in just about any form – by themselves or in chocolate, cookie, nut or fruit concoctions. They are like a food group of their own – sweet, airy, tender pillows that can be eaten alone or with so many other delicious things. However, they are actually a form of candy.
Most candy-making has always seemed too complicated to me. To try making candy I have to plan ahead and get everything ready and go over my lists of things I need available and run through the process of how to do it. I’m not sure why I look at it that way since I have often tackled cakes, cookies, pies and breads without fear. They didn’t always turn out as expected, but I was undaunted. Candy making – especially the luscious marshmallow – to me seemed daunting.
Until recently I didn’t realize how simple homemade marshmallows actually are to make.
When I first started cooking gluten-free, I wasn’t sure about using marshmallows. I checked them out soon, though, which wasn’t as easy then because that was before the labeling law required any of the top 8 allergens to be listed on the label. I did learn which brands I most often found in stores were actually gluten-free, so I continued to enjoy using commercial marshmallows in my recipes.
Sometimes I’d find myself at a get-together where I was not in charge of the food, and there were no gluten-free options when everyone else was having a gluten-y dessert. At that point, more than once a bag of marshmallows provided my dessert (not the whole bag…but a fresh unopened bag that I could trust was safely uncontaminated).
Then I learned about homemade marshmallows, and I was intrigued.
I found out that there are marshmallows made with gelatin and egg whites, and there are some made with gelatin and no egg at all.
What I discovered after I found how to make marshmallows was that although there are a number of steps involved, none of the steps is particularly difficult. It’s simple enough that I would even trust older children to help me prepare the scrumptious sugary treat for the whole family’s enjoyment.
Just follow the steps I’ve listed below…make sure you get the temperatures right…that’s really important. But for the rest of it, just keep to the order of the steps I’ve given below.
Oil or Oil Spray
Powdered Sugar Mix:
1 cup Powdered Sugar (about 140g)
1/3 cup Corn Starch (about 46g)
2 envelopes Unflavored Gelatin (like Knox) (14g)
1/2 cup Cold Water (125ml)
1 cup Sugar (200g)
1/3 cup Light Corn Syrup (100g)
1/3 cup Cold Water (80ml)
4 large Egg Whites (1/2 cup, 110g)
1 pinch Salt
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
You will probably need a stand mixer for this. A hand mixer simply doesn’t have enough power and may actually burn out if you try it.
Separate the eggs. Generally, they are easier to separate while cold, but they whip better when at room temperature. I suggest separating them a little before you begin the other preparations, just long enough so that they can come to room temperature, but not long enough that they might spoil.
Prepare a baking sheet or a 9×13-inch baking pan by spreading with a very light coating of oil. You can spray the oil on and then wipe with a paper towel, or just wipe oil on directly with a paper towel.
Powdered Sugar Mix:
Mix the corn starch with the powdered sugar. Set aside.
Start the Gelatin Mixture:
In a small bowl or measuring pitcher, sprinkle the gelatin over the ½ cup (125ml) water. Stir to mix well and leave so the gelatin can soften and “bloom.”
Start the Syrup Mixture:
In a small saucepan (I used a 2-quart pan), mix the sugar, corn syrup and 1/3 cup (80ml) water. Place over medium-high heat.
Fix the candy thermometer to the side of the pan so that its tip does not touch the bottom of the pan but is in the liquid.
(You will also use this pan to melt the gelatin later.)
Start the Marshmallow Mixture:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, pour in the egg whites and beat on low speed until frothy. Add the salt.
When you see that the temperature of the syrup mixture has reached about 210°F (99°C), turn the mixer speed from low to high. Beat the whites until they are thick and fluffy.
Continue heating the syrup mixture until the thermometer reads 245°F (118°C).
When the syrup reaches 245°F (118°C), with the mixer continuing on high, slowly pour the hot syrup mixture in a trickle into the beaten whites (the marshmallow mixture) as the mixer bowl turns, being careful not to pour onto the beaters/whisk or onto the side of the bowl.
Scrape the gelatin mixture into the pan that just had the syrup mixture in it and stir for a moment so the residual heat of the pan will further soften the gelatin.
Pour the gelatin mixture slowly into the beaten egg whites as above, with the mixer continuing on high, pouring a small stream into the whites as the mixer bowl turns.
Add the vanilla extract and continue to beat for at least 5 minutes, or until the outside of the bowl feels completely cool to the touch.
Dust the oiled baking sheet or baking pan thoroughly and evenly with the Powdered Sugar Mix, leaving nothing uncovered. A sifter works well for this.
Spread the Marshmallow Mixture in the pan.
Allow to set uncovered for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. I used my oven for this since I wasn’t using it for anything else, but a cupboard or enclosed pantry would work, too.
Put some of the Powdered Sugar Mix into a large bowl. Dust the top of the marshmallows with some of the Powdered Sugar Mix. Also, dust the pizza cutter or kitchen scissors and cut the marshmallows into whatever shapes and sizes you want. For miniature marshmallows, cut them smaller. For holiday marshmallows, you can use cookie cutters.
Toss them in the bowl of Powdered Sugar Mix. To remove any excess powder, you can then toss them in a colander or wire strainer.
Store in a sealed container for up to a week.
Enjoy plain…except, well, there’s nothing plain about a fresh marshmallow! Or use them any way that you enjoy marshmallows. Here’s one of our favorites.
Many thanks to David Lebovitz for his excellent post on “Homemade Marshmallow Recipe” which I adapted for this recipe.
There are also vegan marshmallows (more about them here from Vegan Marshmallows).
You might also be interested in:
Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten-Free Fridays
The Gluten-Free Homemaker’s Gluten-Free Wednesdays
Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures’ Gluten-Free Wednesdays
Tessa, The Domestic Diva’s Allergy Friendly Wednesdays
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday
Rattlebridge Farm’s Foodie Friday