Lately, I’ve developed a fondness for homemade marshmallows. I’ve been making marshmallows on and off for a few years now, but never really started experimenting with them, although I Had Ideas.
Let me start with a secret: making marshmallows is easy. It is so ridiculously easy, and fairly reasonably-priced, and the results are so good, that if you have forty minutes to make them and don’t mind waiting overnight to have marshmallows, you might never buy store-bought marshmallows again.
Basically, marshmallows are simple: you boil a mixture of 1 cup sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, 1/2 cup water, until it reaches about 250 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. You pour the sugar solution into a blender where you have .75 oz of gelatin in another 1/2 cup water. The solution will foam up; you will turn the mixer on to its highest speed and mix for ten to fifteen minutes, at which point you will feel like Bartholomew Cubbins fighting off the Oobleck. You will coat a rubber spatula in margarine, which will make the Oobleck miraculously slide off the spatula, as you scrape it into a greased baking sheet lined with a mixture of 1/2 cornstarch, 1/2 confectioners’ sugar. You will let it sit overnight. In the morning, there are marshmallows. You can cut them apart with scissors, and then toss them in more sugar-cornstarch.
The basic trick to marshmallows is just to have a really good mixer. I destroyed two hand mixers making marshmallows, which had a lot to do with why I didn’t make them very often– but then, for Christmas this year, my parents gave me a standing mixer. And it makes a huge difference in the marshmallow-making process.
The thing with marshmallows is that they required heavy whipping for an extended period of time. So if you have a hand mixer, you had better have a book in the other hand or a television in the same room as your mixer. Or something. This is why having the standing mixer makes such a difference.
So once I got the mixer, I really started spending a lot of time playing with flavors. I started logically– infusing herbs in the sugar syrup, peppermint once, and lavender and tarragon another time. Then I moved on, realizing I could substitute some of the unflavored gelatin for Jell-o, and get day-glo marshmallows with delicious artificial candy flavors. Lately, I’ve been playing with boozemallows, and I’ve done three flavors that are all quite good: Angostura, Fernet-Branca, and Sazerac.
The Sazerac marshmallows were the first ones I made that actually approximate a cocktail instead of just having a bit of a specific ingredient flavoring the marshmallow. They’re very mild, but if you eat them alone, you can taste all the subtle flavors you expect from a Sazerac: whiskey, absinthe, and Peychaud’s, and they even have the tiniest tinge of pink to them (though it doesn’t come across much in the photo).
To the recipe I related above, I added about 1/4 cup Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye, about 1/8 cup Tenneyson Absinthe, and about ten dashes of Peychaud’s bitters– I added these right at the beginning of the whipping process, into the mixer. Use a splash guard for your mixer if you have one. You can taste the marshmallow to see if you want more or less of any ingredient, and it’s easy to add a little bit more later on– as long as it’s not too much, it mixes in well.
Of course, once the marshmallows are done, I recommend popping a couple of them into a glass of whiskey.