O the torture I put myself through... and the messes I make.
Let me paint a picture for you, because while this was happening my hands were covered in marshmallow goop so I couldn't take a picture. I wish I had. Monday night, in a flurry of over-confidence, I decided that I could undertake marshmallow making on a week night. The flurry of over-confidence should be what tips you off, this is how all my great messes start. After a few hours, two techniques, two batches, and maybe a few unprintable words, I did have vanilla and peppermint marshmallows setting, waiting to be cut up the next morning. So in one sense, I was successful. I also had, and I am not exaggerating, confectioners sugar everywhere in my kitchen, across my living room, and on my cat. On. my. cat. How did that happen? O that's right, Nic loves torturing the cat so he decided to sprinkle her with the confectioner's sugar, because hey it was already everywhere else. I couldn't be too mad though because without his help this would have probably never turned out.
Now that I have thoroughly discouraged marshmallow making it seems, let me say that homemade marshmallows are far superior to store-bought marshmallows. I don't eat store-bought marshmallows, but these little guys, especially the peppermint ones are quite tasty, especially on top of a hot chocolate. The recipe requires very few ingredients. So these actually are worthwhile making, just don't make the mistake I made. And to give you all confidence, I will be making two more batches of these before Christmas to bring to my family.
Alton Brown says you can make mini-marshmallows by piping them through a pastry bag into strips, then cutting them when they set. He does this on his show and it looks so easy. In real life, it is a near impossibility. The marshmallow goop doesn't want to go into the bag, then it wants to come out the top, not the point, then it starts to cool before it is all piped and becomes impossible to work with. Unless you are a professional candy maker, just make the marshmallows in the pan and cut them into mini-marshmallows (the pink peppermint ones, batch #2, were done this way).
Adapted from Alton Brown
To make both flavors of marshmallow you need to do this process twice.
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
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. peppermint extract
6-7 drops red food coloring
-Set up the stand mixer with the wisk attachment. Put 1/2 cup of the water into the bowl with the gelatin. Don't mix. Just let it sit.
-In a small saucepan, combine the other 1/2 cup of granulated water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Heat over medium-high, covered for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and clip a candy thermometer on the side so that the point is submerged but not touching the bottom or the sides of the pan. Continue to cook until the temperature reaches 240 degrees, this takes about 7 to 8 minutes, but don't try to guess based on time. Use the temperature.
-When the mixture reaches 240 degrees, immediately remove it from the heat. Turn the mixer on low and while it is running slowly pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl.
-When all the sugar mixture is added, turn the speed up to high and let it continue to whip until the mixture is very thick and lukewarm, about 12 to 15 minutes. During the last minute of whipping, add the extract (vanilla or peppermint) and the food coloring if you are using it.
-While the mixture whips, combine the confectioners' sugar and the cornstarch. Spray a 13X9 inch metal pan with non-stick cooking spray and coat generously with confectioners' sugar mixture. (You can also use two smaller pans. I lined mine with parchment paper first because they were glass.) Spray a spatula with non-stick cooking spray and coat it in the confectioners' sugar mixture as well.
-When the whipping is finished, pour the marshmallow mixture into the pans. Use the sprayed and coated spatula to push the mixture into the pan evenly. Sprinkle the top with another generous coating of the confectioners' sugar mixture. (At this point you can press the marshmallow gently to even out and bumps.)
-Let the marshmallows set for 4 hours or over night at room temperature. Reserve the rest of the confectioners' sugar mixture.
-Coat a cutting board with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Turn the marshmallows out into the cutting board. Coat a very sharp knife or a pair of kitchen scissors with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Cut the marshmallows into desired size. As you cut, roll the marshmallows in the confectioners' sugar so that all of the sides get coated. Also re-coat your knife or scissors frequently. You can't use too much. Excess will fall off of the marshmallows later. But if you use too little, they will stick and be much harder to work with.
-Store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.