Holiday peppermint marshmallows

Every year we make marshmallows, and every year we scramble to find that one issue of the Martha Stewart magazine that has the marshmallow recipe in it.

By the way, one of these years I’d like to try making gelatin-free marshmallows, but I’ve read that vegetarian gelatin substitutes can be tricky. I’d welcome any advice about vegetarian marshmallow-makery.

Peppermint Marshmallows
adapted from: Martha Stewart Living Dec 2004

Vegetable-oil cooking spray or butter
4 (1/4-ounce) packages unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Confectioners’ sugar, sifted, for coating

1. Coat a 9×13″ pan and the blade of a large spatula with cooking spray. (Or butter them or oil them or whatever.) Put sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup of water into a medium saucepan and cook over medium, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. (The saucepan will seem ridiculously large. This is on purpose.) Stop stirring and let the mixture come to a boil. Raise heat to medium high and cook until it’s come to 260F on a candy thermometer. Marvel, as usual, about the heating curve of the sugar.

2. Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin into 3/4 cup of water in a heatproof measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Set the measuring cup in a small saucepan full of gently simmering water and whisk constantly until the gelatin is dissolved. Take it off the heat and stir in the extract, then set it aside.

3. Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer until stiff but not dry peaks form. That means that the surface of the whites should still be glossy, but the peaks stay completely upright without their tips flopping over. In reality, we look at each other and say, “Does this look right to you?” “I dunno. Does it look right to you?” One year they got a little overbeaten; the marshmallows were a little less lofty but I don’t think anybody cared. Ideally the egg whites are not sitting around deflating while you heat up the sugar syrup; starting them when the syrup is coming up on about 250F works well.

4. Whisk gelatin mixture into the sugar mixture. The mixture will foam up significantly, making you glad you used such a big saucepan. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the hot sugar-gelatin mixture, in a thin stream, to the egg whites. Then crank the mixer’s speed to maximum. (Whoosh! Steam! Very dramatic!) Keep it running on high speed until it’s a very thick mixture, which takes about 12-15 minutes. Put the saucepan in the sink to soak.

5. Pour the mixture into a lined pan. Let it set up until firm, at least 3 hours. Cut the marshmallow mass into generous cubes and roll them in confectioner’s sugar. Cutting the marshmallows can be awkward – scissors have worked best for us.

5 thoughts on “Holiday peppermint marshmallows

  1. Meaghan says that Whole Foods carries a brand of vegan gelatin substitute, but don’t bother; they’ll be the wrong consistency (and probably taste bad).

  2. I’ve had this crazy idea that if I used carrageenan and maybe forced the mixture through something like a sacrificial whipped-cream dispenser… maybe… I dunno. It’s hard to beat gelatin. In fact, as I recall, a few years ago people were raving over the perfection of a supposedly vegan gelatin substitute that turned out to be actually secretly made out of gelatin. Whoops.

    Maybe somewhere out there is a kitchen molecular gastronomist who’s beaten the problem. Maybe the answer is this recipe.

    Billie, the owner of the Blue Saucer cafe in Maple Leaf, makes really good orange-flavored marshmallows. She zests an orange with a microplane and just drops the zest in, I think as she’s adding the gelatin/syrup mix to the mixer. The heat is enough to soften the zest and infuse the whole mixture.

  3. It’s worth noting that as soon as you’re done with any implement which has touched the sugar, you should put it in hot water to soak. Immediately. This includes the candy thermometer especially.

  4. Addendum: bloom the gelatin in a 4-cup pyrex mixing bowl, then whisk the hot sugar mixture into that, rather than whisking the gelatin into the hot sugar. It doesn’t foam up nearly as much that way, and you can get away with using a small saucepan for the sugar syrup.

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