Our guest blogger, SHAUNA SEVER is a passionate baker and author of the cookbook Marshmallow Madness.
One of the first things people say when they find out I wrote an entire cookbook about homemade marshmallows is, “What? That’s crazy! I didn’t know you could even make marshmallows!”. But as soon as I give them a basic rundown of how simple and delicious from-scratch mallows are, they want more details. Namely, what kind of flavors can you make? And with the nerdy kind of enthusiasm that can only come from writing a book on an obscure topic, I always tell them that it’s nearly limitless. Just about any flavor your creative little sweet tooth desires can be translated into fluffy, puffy pillows of heaven.
To make the process as clear and foolproof as possible, all of the recipes in my book are broken down into a few simple steps:
The Bloom: Unflavored powdered gelatin is “bloomed”, or softened, in a liquid for 5 to 10 minutes. This can be anything from water to fruit juice to booze and more. There are more than 50 recipes and flavor variations in the book, and many of them use the bloom liquid as a great place to inject flavor into the marshmallows.
The Syrup: Sugar, water, corn syrup and a touch of salt are combined and brought to a boil on the stove top (a candy thermometer is the brain if the operation here to ensure that you’re cooking your syrups to the temperatures indicated in each recipe). Occasionally additional ingredients are added to the syrup pot to bolster the vibrance of certain flavors.
The Mallowing: Once your bloom is ready and your syrup has boiled to just the right temperature, the two come together in an electric mixer. Whipping everything together with increasing speed gives the marshmallow its fluff and puff, and turns a small amount of hot liquid into a billowing bowl of marshmallow batter. During the final minute of so of whipping, one more opportunity to bump of the flavor of the marshmallows presents itself: In a basic vanilla marshmallow, for example, you’d just beat in some high-quality vanilla extract (and maybe the seeds of a scraped vanilla bean, if you’re feeling fancy). But that’s just the beginning!
There are tons of great flavorings out there, and for me, the best ones I found (at the best price and highest quality) were from LorAnn Oils. I even gave them their own shining moment on one of the pages in the Kids in a Candy Store chapter! LorAnn has everything from natural fruit oils and essences to outrageous novelty flavors that really bring out the kid in the candymaker—the Bubble Gum marshmallows in my book are one of my all-time favorite mallow flavors. They’re everything a marshmallow should be, pink and puffy and smelling of sweet candy. A sugar lover’s heaven!
As much as I love incorporating ingredients like fruit juices and purees into a marshmallow recipe, I find that using candy oils is the easiest way to get spot-on, big, bold (and great-tasting) flavors. I first started making marshmallows as filler on the dessert tables I create for my little catering business, in different flavors and colors to match party themes, and soon I realized the marshmallows were always the first things to disappear! With a great basic vanilla marshmallow recipe as your blank canvas and a collection of LorAnn oils (and a few fun food colorings), you can have a blast creating just about any flavor marshmallow you can dream up. It’s equal parts edible craft and crazy kitchen experiment. As I always say, we’re making candy here, not breakfast, so go nuts and have fun!
Shauna Sever’s Classic Marshmallows
Even when I’m flavoring marshmallows with candy oils, I still like to leave a bit of vanilla in the mix—I tend to halve the vanilla extract to just one teaspoon, and then add drops of candy oil in addition to the vanilla. To me, a background note of vanilla really gives the candy that true “marshmallow-y” flavor, but you can just leave the vanilla out altogether, if you prefer).
RECIPE TIP: When adding candy oils to the batter, add a few drops at a time, beat to blend well, and then taste the batter before adding a few more drops until the desired flavor is achieved.
4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons LorAnn Madagascar vanilla extract (see note above)
LorAnn super strength flavoring (Candy Oil) of your choice
1/2 cup Classic Coating (1 1/2 parts cornstarch to 1 part confectioners’ sugar, whisked together), plus more coating for dusting the finished marshmallows
Lightly spray an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and wipe away any excess with a paper towel.
Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and let the gelatin soften for at least 5 minutes.
Stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1/4 cup water and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave the gelatin on high until it is completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour it into the corn syrup. Set the mixer to low, and keep the mixer running while you check the sugar syrup.
Once the syrup reaches 240°F, remove it from the heat. Keeping the mixer on low, slowly pour the syrup into the gelatin mixture in a steady stream, aiming for the space between the beater and the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the vanilla extract and a few drops of candy oil at a time until you reach the level of flavoring you like; the finished marshmallow will be opaque white, fluffy, and roughly tripled in volume.
Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to nudge it into the corners and smooth the top. Sift coating evenly and generously over the top. Let set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.
When the marshmallow has set, use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the marshmallow slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut into whatever size pieces you wish (a pizza cutter works great here for squares). Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more coating, patting off the excess.