Marshmallows are a great introduction to candy-making. People are always shocked by how easy these desserts are to make and we have to agree after giving this recipe a whirl. The fresh marshmallows also last for weeks when stored in an airtight container, which means you get tasty treats long after you bake.
Our recipe is for vanilla marshmallows, but, similar to decorating cookies, the sky’s the limit here: You can dust them with cinnamon (like we did), add peppermint extract, dip them in chocolate or whatever else floats your boat.
Here's how to make fluffy, gooey marshmallows, plus get adventurous with more flavoring and topping ideas below.
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- Cooking spray
- 1 1/4 cups cold water, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/2 cup
- 4 packets of unflavored powdered gelatin (equivalent to 4 tablespoons)
- 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large egg whites
1. Sift together the cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar in a medium-sized bowl.
2. Generously coat the bottom and sides of the baking pan with cooking spray, and dust it well with about 1/4 cup of the cornstarch mixture, tapping out any excess back into the bowl. Set the prepared pan aside.
3. Place 3/4 cup of the cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it, and stir until well mixed and lump-free. Set it aside to soften, at least 5 minutes.
4. Place the remaining 1/2 cup water, the sugar, the corn syrup, and vanilla bean and seeds (if using) into a small (2-3 quart) saucepan, and stir with a heatproof spatula to combine. Make sure there are no sugar crystals on the side of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, without stirring, over medium-high heat. Then insert the candy thermometer(Opens in a new window) and cook, uncovered, until it reaches 240˚F/116˚C, about 10 minutes.
5. Place the egg whites in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer or stand mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn the speed down to low and proceed to the next step. Once the syrup reaches 250˚F/121˚C, remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to fish out the vanilla pod. Increase the speed on the mixer to medium-low, and slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the mixer bowl (otherwise it will splatter). Break the softened gelatin into several pieces and add it one piece at a time until it's all incorporated.
6. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the marshmallow is white, thick, and almost tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
7. If using the vanilla extract, add it, and beat until just combined. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and sift approximately 1/4 cup of the sugar-cornstarch mixture evenly over the top. Allow to set up for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
8. Run the tip of a paring knife around the edge of the baking sheet and invert it onto a parchment-lined cutting board. Lift a corner of the pan and carefully loosen the marshmallow with your fingers. Once the slab of marshmallow is on the cutting board, generously coat a pizza wheel or chef’s knife with cooking spray and cut into 1-inch pieces.
9. Sift the remaining 1/2 cup of the cornstarch mixture into a medium-sized bowl and gently toss each marshmallow in the mixture to coat. Shake off the excess and start snackin’!
Fun Marshmallow Flavors
Upgrade your final product with a little flavor. You can substitute the vanilla with the same amount tor almond extract, peppermint oil or Kahlua. Dust the marshmallows with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, or cocoa powder. For a naturally sweet kick, substitute half the corn syrup with maple syrup or honey.
Cookie cutters aren’t just for cookies. Oil any metal or plastic cookie cutter and use it to punch out festive shapes. Plus, save any leftover pieces for hot chocolate.
Don’t forget the power of texture. Once the marshmallow is poured out into the pan, sprinkle your favorite toppings like crushed roasted nuts, rainbow sprinkles, cookie crumbs, breakfast cereals or borrow one of these cake topping ideas(Opens in a new window).
Storage and Gifting
Homemade marshmallows make great DIY food gifts (just make sure they’re stored in an airtight container). Try packaging them in a festive tin: line with parchment paper, nestle the fluffy marshmallows inside, and add another layer of parchment on top before sealing. Bows never hurt, too.
Want more baking tips? Check out these recipes for vanilla raspberry cake, edible marshmallow play dough and s'mores cookies.