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Homemade marshmallow stars

October 20, 2008 |  3:32 pm

Marshmallows_3Making your own marshmallows is fun and surprisingly easy, and the results are remarkable -- they're a world away from the stuff you buy in stores.

And because they're so versatile, homemade marshmallows are great for holidays. Cut a tray of the whipped sugar and gelatin into ghosts for halloween, flavor them with peppermint and tint them red for Christmas -- or scent them with orange flower water and stamp them into stars, which is what I did over the weekend (see photo). 

For a great recipe, keep reading after the jump for one from a February 2004 Times story. Or check out Martha Stewart's recipe from her new holiday issue, which suggests cutting the marshmallows out into pretty snowflakes. 

Dust the marshmallows with powdered sugar and give them as gifts, wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bit of ribbon. Or make some for an election night party.  Add a handful of stars to a bowl of hot chocolate (made with equal parts Oaxacan chocolate and 82% Scharffen Berger, melted down into milk and steeped with a vanilla bean) and watch as they melt, point by point, trailing clouds of glory into the frothy chocolate as the results come in. 

-- Amy Scattergood

Photos: Marshmallow stars in preparation, and in hot chocolate. Credit: Amy Scattergood


Total Time: 30 minutes, plus overnight chilling

Servings: Makes 2 dozen large marshmallows

3/4 cup water, divided

1 1/2packets (1 1/2 teaspoons)

powdered gelatin

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2cup light corn syrup, divided

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, divided

1. Place 6 tablespoons water in a 5-quart mixing bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Place the bowl over a medium saucepan of gently simmering water and allow the gelatin to dissolve without stirring. This should take 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining water, the sugar and one-fourth cup corn syrup. Cook the mixture over high heat until it reaches 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour in the remaining corn syrup.

3. Immediately begin whipping the gelatin mixture, and slowly add the hot sugar mixture as you whip. Continue whipping until the marshmallow mixture is white, light and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.

4. Spread the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with nonstick spray. For thicker marshmallows, use a smaller pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5. Using a knife or cookie cutters, cut the marshmallow layer into desired shapes and sizes. Cover a work surface with a sheet of wax paper; lightly dust the paper with one-fourth cup confectioner's sugar. As you cut out individual marshmallows, place them on the sugared wax paper. Lightly dust the tops of the marshmallows with the remaining confectioner's sugar. The marshmallows may be tightly wrapped and stored for 3 to 5 days at room temperature.

6. Variations:

-- Almond or pistachio: Substitute almond or pistachio extract for vanilla. Add food coloring if desired.

-- Lavender: Omit the vanilla extract and beat in 1 1/3 cups bottled lavender syrup. Add food coloring if desired.

-- Lemon: Substitute lemon extract for vanilla. Add food coloring if desired.

-- Peppermint: Substitute one-eighth teaspoon peppermint extract for vanilla. Add food coloring if desired.

-- Cassis: Heat one-fourth cup cassis puree in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat until reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 20 minutes, being careful not to burn. Omit vanilla and beat the reduced puree into the marshmallow mixture.