I saw a recipe online about making vanilla bean marshmallows. This is sort of akin to making your own toothpaste (why?), but the photos were so cute that I let down my guard and gathered my materials. Let me tell you the end result so you don’t get scared off by the process: they were really good! And cute! And easy! If you don’t mess things up like I did. But I digress. Here’s what I made:
Cool, huh? And they really do taste like real marshmallows. Groovy. Here’s the recipe:
3 packets unflavored gelatin
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 vanilla bean (seeded)
Put 1/2 cup of the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the 3 packets of gelatin over it. Whisk it smooth and set aside.
Put the remaining 1/2 cup of water, the sugar, corn syrup and salt into a saucepan–don’t stir it–and heat over medium heat until the sugar melts. Then kick it up to medium high heat and let boil until the candy thermometer reads 240. My 1st mistake: I didn’t have a candy thermometer. I thought I did. So, I just had to guess, “Yep, sure does look like it’s 240. Wait, no it’s only 238…now! Now it’s 240!”
Put the gelatin mixture in a stand mixer and add the vanilla bean seeds (slice open a vanilla bean and scoop out the insides–that’s all that’s to it). Now set the mixer on low, and slowly add the corn syrup mixture to it. My 2nd mistake: The Hunky Foreman recently gave me an old stand mixer he found at his house, and I was planning to use it, but the beaters he gave me weren’t compatible with the mixer. So I had to use my regular hand mixer and get my son Luke to help me. He poured while I mixed, but the slight time it took to coordinate that allowed the syrup mixture to begin to harden. So I had to stop and take out lumps, microwave them down to liquid and add that in to the entire mixture again. Pain. In. The. Butt.
You have to mix this stuff for 10-15 minutes, which is also why you need the stand mixer. My little hand mixer burned out after about 10 minutes and I had to throw it out, so I was wondering if my mixture was mixed up enough. It’ll be bright white, like this, and thick and creamy with added volume. Right at the end, add the vanilla extract and mix it in.
Now take a baking pan and generously flour the bottom of it with powdered sugar. And I mean generously, or you won’t be able to get the marshmallows out. Spread the marshmallow mixture out over the pan. I tried this, without luck, with a spatula, so what I wound up doing was sprinkling some more powdered sugar on top and on my hands, then used my hands to carefully push the marshmallow to the edges.
Let the pan sit out overnight, uncovered, to set up. I had to put the pan on my dresser in my room so the cats, Klaus and Lorelei, wouldn’t nibble on it. Now take smaller cookie cutters and cut your marshmallows out. I used hearts and stars, and for little round marshmallows, I used the top half of a tea ball (genius, I know). Roll the cut sides in powdered sugar so the marshmallows don’t stick to each other.
These marshmallows aren’t as thick as the ones you buy, but they really are good! I was surprised. And believe me, pleasantly surprised–there’s nothing worse than struggling through a recipe without the proper tools only to have it turn out crappy, right?
I’m not a prairie Mama–I don’t hand-make everything. And I’m not totally organic (yet), so sometimes my recipes have stuff in it that isn’t necessarily good for you. But I practice a “mostly” good diet and on occasion, I really enjoy making something like this with my own hands. I’m not going to be doing it every week, but I do think the effort was worth it! Give it a try this holiday season–sometimes when you make something by hand, it tastes just a little bit better.