We've been sick…colds, flu-ish virus, Strep – you name it, one of us seems to have had it. The last week pretty much did us in, and on top of that, it's gotten SUPER cold. So, the boys and I have been sticking close to home and keeping cozy and warm and nursing our respective illnesses.
We like hot chocolate on these super cold, blustery, snowy days. And we like to have marshmallows in our hot chocolate, but that's gotten more complicated. My son has developed a severe sensitivity to artificial colors, and can you believe that most marshmallows have a blue dye in them? Yep, it's true, unfortunately.
We were excited when we found Trader Joe's marshmallows – gluten free for me and no artificial colors for him and really good – win-win…except for some reason they only make them in July and November. I think they are really missing out on selling these suckers, but no one asked me.
Now, our other options are to buy pretty expensive and not so delicious marshmallows at our co-op or try making them at home. I know a number of people who swear by their homemade marshmallows. So, earlier this week, I decided to try and experiment with making them.
Two challenges: 1) I rarely have all the ingredients I need and often have to substitute. 2) I don't own a candy thermometer.
But, lo and behold, I had all the ingredients (yes, even packets of gelatin, oddly enough) and I found an approximate time for cooking, not just a temperature to reach. So, we gave it a shot.
Here's the recipe I used. It's from Martha Stewart (normally I find that her recipes don't turn out, but I recall a cousin saying she uses this recipe), and this worked well for us.
- 4 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (use good vanilla – it makes a difference!)
- confectioners' sugar for dusting
Butter 9 x 13 baking dish and dust with confectioners' sugar; set aside.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer or about 9 minutes.
I don't have a candy thermometer and went by the 9 minute cooking time and it worked out for me. Start timer when mixture is at a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup cold water into a large bowl for mixing whole mixture and sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.
With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes.
Beat in vanilla.
Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with spatula. Set aside until firm.
Instructions say uncovered, but at our house that would mean it would end up with pet hair and maybe even some tiny cat nose prints in it. So, I covered it with a silicone lid. These instructions said to let it set up for about 3 hours; other instructions said overnight. I decided to let it firm overnight. I did try a bit after about 3 hours though and it was firm, but still VERY sticky. I dusted the top with confectioner's sugar and let it sit.
Butter a sharp knife, then cut marshmallows into 2-inch squares or whatever size you want. I made mine pretty big, about 2 inches square, I suppose …only one marshmallow needed per cup of hot chocolate.
(I did not do this) Pour 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar into a small bowl, and roll each marshmallow in the sugar to coat. Keeps for 3 days in sealed container.
Now, if you want these for hot chocolate, PLEASE, PLEASE, after going to all this trouble for good marshmallows, DO use a GOOD hot chocolate mix! We are loving the Penzeys Hot Chocolate Mix. It's made with top ingredients and so smooth and so good! I also really like the recipe on the Hershey's Cocoa container.
Enjoy! Over and out…