As the mixer fiercely whipped the hot sugar syrup, a plume of mist roared out of the bowl. The transformation from clear and gooey to white and pillowy was simply incredible. It took 12 minutes. Nothing more, nothing less.
Then there was sticky marshmallow everywhere. It stayed glued to the walls of the bowl after I poured it in a pan greased and dusted with confectioners’ sugar. It stubbornly clung onto the wire whip and the rubber spatula. It stuck to my fingers, too, which left me with no other choice but to lick them clean. The intoxicating scent of peppermint filled my kitchen and didn’t help one bit. It made me want to lick off the sticky strings of marshmallow all the more.
But the fun in this marshmallow experiment had only just begun. I dotted the top of the soft, thick bed of marshmallow in the pan with drops of the natural red food color I conjured from red beet powder. Using a small fork, I swirled these drops of bright red color into long streaks and twirls. No definite pattern in mind. Like a young kid with a paint brush and water color, I drew circles and curls — big ones and tiny ones. I drew waves. I drew paisley-like patterns. I drew dizzying spirals that coiled in and coiled out. I didn’t follow any rules, which made it even more fun. My masterpiece was not at all refined but it was everything I thought it would be — messy-clean fun. It was like being a kid again in the kitchen
My very first homemade marshmallow started out as a desperate tweet to find a store in the city that sells multicolored mini-marshmallows for my church window candies. All the stores I visited, six or seven in all, didn’t carry the elusive colored marshmallows I wanted and everyone kept raving about how easy it is to make them from scratch. Making marshmallows wasn’t only easy, it was loads of fun. I’m just not certain which I enjoyed more — making or eating them.
Peppermint Marshmallows Recipe,
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s Good Eats, makes around 60 marshmallows
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
12 drops of red food coloring from red beet powder
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the peppermint extract during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dot the marshmallow across the pan with red food coloring made from red beet powder and using a fork or toothpick, swirl the food coloring to create a marbleized effect.
Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a knife dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
1. To make regular marshmallows, add vanilla extract instead of peppermint extract.
2. Red beet powder can be used to make a natural organic red food color. Click here to read more about red beet powder.
3. To make miniature marshmallows, combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the confectioners’ sugar mixture.
Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch between each strip. Sprinkle the tops with enough of the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture to lightly cover. Let the strips set for 4 hours or up to overnight.
Cut into 1/2 inch pieces using a pizza wheel or scissors dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to a week.