I'm a candy freak. I've always loved candy, but a few years ago I worked for a mentor of mine, Beth Kimmerle, who solidified my love of candy and introduced me to the crazy world that is the candy industry. Beth is a confectionary expert, historian, and consultant. Working with her allowed me to do things like travel to candy trade shows, do sensory trainings with chocolate clients, research the history of caramels, and spend weeks testing maple nougat (after which I couldn't eat anything maple-flavored for months). Beth taught me everything there is to know about candy and it remains one of my favorite things to make at home.
Maybe more than any other candy, I love marshmallows. I feel relatively confident that I could keep Peeps afloat all on my own and I count down to the start of yellow chick Peeps season every year - the original is superior although I'm not one to snub a Halloween or Christmas Peep (gotta get my fix year round y'all).
People tend to shy away from making candy themselves because it seems intimidating but I think it's actually one of the easiest, most fun, and most rewarding sweets you can make. For marshmallows, you need a thermometer, a saucepan, a rubber spatula, a mixer and a 9x13 pan.
Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
Adapted from Alton Brown
- 3 packets unflavored gelatin (each packet is .25 oz or 7g)
- 1 cup cold water, divided
- Nonstick spray
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add gelatin and pour half the water over it. Place on stand mixer with whisk attachment ready.
Grease a 9x13 pan and wipe down with paper towel to evenly distribute. Combine cornstarch and confectioners sugar in a bowl and add to the greased pan. Shake to evenly coat and return excess to bowl.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, the remaining 1/2 cup water, and salt. Cook on medium high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Clip on the candy thermometer and continue to cook on medium high (without stirring) until temperature reaches 240F, about 10 minutes. Note: Watch the pot as the mixture can bubble up and the temperature plateaus and then suddenly shoots up to 240F.
When the mixture has reached temperature, remove it from the heat and start the mixer with the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low, slowly pour the hot sugar mixture down the side of the bowl into the gelatin.
Once all of the hot sugar mixture has been added turn the mixer speed up to high and allow to whip up until the marshmallow is fluffy and warm to the touch, about 12-14 minutes. You'll also hear the mixer's motor working harder towards the end which is a sign that your marshmallow is ready. In the last minute of whipping add the vanilla extract or paste. Note: The marshmallow will look brown when it first starts whipping up - don't worry, it will turn white as soon as more air is incorporated.
Using a spatula, spread marshmallow into prepared 9x13 pan. To spread and even out the top, lightly wet your hands and press down on the marshmallow. Sprinkle top with more of the cornstarch-sugar mixture and allow to sit at room temperature for 4 hours up to overnight. Cut into desired size squares using a wet a or oiled knife and coat all sides in cornstarch-sugar mixture. You can also cut out fun shapes using cookie cutters!