Marshmallows have suffered, in my opinion, a very unfortunate case of commercialisation. People expect marshmallows to be white or pink fat cylinders and have a chalky outside and chewy interior. Homemade marshmallows are a very different story. They can be a multitude of colours and taste much better than the shopbought ones. They have a soft sticky interior and have texture.
To ensure they are perfect, you’ll need to heat the sugar to 113°C exactly – this means you’ll need to use a sugar thermometer (or as I have, a temperature probe) to check the temperature. I suggest using a stand mixer to make the marshmallows because this needs to be whisked for a good 10 minutes (don’t worry about the timing; it is easier than you think). You may need an extra pair of hands if you don’t have one and are using a large bowl and electric whisk, but I found it quite easy.
Marshmallows are simply heated sugar syrup whisked with gelatine until it becomes wonderfully light, fluffy and white. This means it isn’t suitable for vegetarians – do not try to use Vege-Gel because it doesn’t work (I used a whole packet trying to make it; all went into the bin). This recipe uses the much cheaper powdered gelatine rather than very expensive leaf gelatine.
This recipe is so much quicker than a traditional recipe and is very much a shortcut. You’ll see tomorrow that it is quite versatile, with a very different use.
225g caster sugar
1 x 7g sachets of gelatine
50ml hot water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract and green gel food colouring (depends how deep you want the marshmallows)
- 1 tsp rosewater extract and pink gel food colouring (depends how deep you want the marshmallows)
- 1 tsp orange blossom water and orange gel food colouring (again depending on your colour)
- Pistachio nuts
- Dissolve the gelatine sachet in 50ml hot water.
- Over a medium heat, place the sugar and 85ml water. Stir with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Allow to come up to the boil until it reaches 113°C.
- Put the gelatine mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attached or a large bowl.
- Start mixing the gelatine to loosen and gradually pour on the sugar syrup in a slow but steady stream. Ensure that the sugar syrup does not touch the whisk otherwise it could splash.
- If you want another colour or flavour, add them at this stage. If using pistachio nuts, do not add at this stage.
- Keep whisking the marshmallow mix for 8 – 10 minutes. The bowl should feel very cool and the mixture will be very thick – it may have started to set. If using pistachios, whisk in at this point.
- During the mixing period, grease a 24cm square tin with very deep sides with flavourless oil. Line the tin with baking parchment such that there is overhang on two sides.
- Dust some icing sugar and cornflour over the entire tin. Rotate the tin so that all the sides and base are covered in the mixture – it will add sweetness, create a chalky exterior and stop the marshmallows sticking.
- Once mixed, using a rubber spatula, transfer the marshmallow mix into the lined tin. Use a palette knife that has been dipped into boiling water to smooth the surface of the marshmallow. Dust the surface again with some more icing sugar and cornflour.
- Cover the tin with clingfilm and allow to set overnight (do not chill in the fridge).
- Lift out the marshmallow and turn out onto a surface dusted with icing sugar and cornflour. Lift off the paper and using a knife dipped into boiling water, cut into cubes.
- Roll the cubes in more icing sugar and cornflour.
Place some marshmallows into cellophane bags and tie up with ribbons to give as gifts. These can be stored in airtight containers for up to three weeks. Marshmallows may also be given to top a warming hot chocolate or cocoa in the winter: