Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows (Angel Kisses)

Okay, I know there are a zillion recipes for homemade marshmallows on the web, each claiming to be the lightest, fluffiest, springiest, tastiest, BEST marshmallows in the entire universe. But I’m giving you a marshmallow post this holiday season anyway, because:

  1. I LOVE marshmallows.
  2. This is my FIRST time making them.
  3. There is nothing more festive and magical than homemade (REAL) marshmallows.

In case you are the only other person besides me who was left behind when the homemade marshmallow boat sailed, you are in for a taste revelation. The texture of homemade marshmallows is infinitely lighter and more ethereal than store-bought marshmallows. If angels gave kisses, they would feel, smell, and taste like homemade marshmallows. I’m sure of it.

Formulas abound, but as simpler is often better, I planned to start with the simple recipe presented in Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. If you don’t have this marvelous little cookbook, run-don’t-walk to your local bookstore and grab a copy (or several for presents).

But then, in the nick of time, I noticed that the formula does not specify egg whites. What? No egg whites?

A quick expedition to the pages of Oh Fudge and then The Craft of Baking verified that this is not a mistake. (And here I was ready to blame some over worked, completely innocent editor.) This was perplexing, because many of the homemade marshmallow recipes I see on food blogs incorporate egg whites and several are close derivatives of this homemade marshmallow.

I had always assumed that marshmallows were kissing cousins to meringue. Don’t they look and taste like heaven-kissed meringue? The idea that traditional marshmallows contain no egg white at all is just—well–unimaginable.

Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen fame claims that egg whites make marshmallows loftier, fluffier, and easier to make. She had a heck of a time on her first attempt with the traditional no egg white formula. Then on her second try, she added egg whites and voila: springy, fluffy marshmallows with a fraction of the mess.

However, I went about this exploration in the opposite way, first testing the traditional, no egg white formula. (I may never get to the egg white formula, as the results as the marshmallows I am sharing with you are perfect in every way.)

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Homemade Marshmallow Tips & Tricks

  • Marshmallows are surprisingly easy and quick to make. You may never go back to store-bought marshmallows (especially after you taste them).
  • The sugar must be dissolved in the syrup before you bring the syrup to a boil. Otherwise, the marshmallows will have a gritty texture.
  • Some recipes say to take the syrup to 240° degrees, while others insist on 245° degrees. I settled on 240° for my first batch and that worked well.
  • Some recipes say to let the syrup cool somewhat (to 225°) before beginning the beating process. Others say to begin the beating process immediately. I went with the latter and that worked well.
  • Some recipes say to beat the batter until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Others say that the bowl should still be warm. I beat for 15 minutes. The bowl and batter were still warm.

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows (Sans Egg Whites)

So what are marshmallows exactly? Simply softened gelatin combined with firm ball-stage sugar syrup, whipped together until white, voluminous, and fluffy. They may or may not contain egg whites. This formula is sans egg whites. The results are beyond delectable. I can’t imagine how they could be any better, but just to be certain, I will test the egg white formula at a later time.

vegetable oil for coating the pan
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup cornstarch

½ cup cold water
3 packets (3 tablespoons) unflavored gelatin

2 cups sugar
¾ cup light corn syrup
½ cup cold water

½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons vanilla

  1. Lightly oil the sides of a 13- by 9-inch cake pan. Line with plastic wrap, smooth out air pockets and wrinkles and lightly oil the wrap.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornstarch and powdered sugar.
  3. Sift 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch-powdered sugar mixture in an even layer over the bottom of the cake pan. Dust the sides with an additional tablespoon of the cornstarch-powdered sugar mixture. Reserve the remainder.
  4. To prepare the gelatin, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, stir cold water and gelatin together. Let the gelatin “bloom” for 30 minutes.
  5. To prepare the sugar mixture, in a 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water and set over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and the syrup clears. To prevent crystallization, do not rush this first step; use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wash down the sides of the saucepan.
  6. When the sugar is fully dissolved, raise the heat, bring the syrup to a boil, and stop stirring. Continue heating without stirring until the syrup reaches 240°, about 6 minutes.
  7. To prepare the batter, remove syrup from the heat and carefully pour the extremely hot syrup over the gelatin into the bowl of the stand mixer.
  8. Mix on the slowest speed for a minute or so, until the gelatin is melted and incorporated.
  9. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and salt.
  10. Increase mixer speed to high and beat for an additional 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and white but still warm. (The gradual increase of speed will help prevent splattering of the extremely hot syrup. Be very careful when working with hot syrup.)
  11. Lift the whisk attachment up from the bowl and let the warm batter fall from it into the bowl. Do not try to help this process with a utensil. The mixture is incredibly sticky and you will only make matters worse by trying to get every last bit. When most of the batter has fallen into the bowl, remove the whisk and put it into a sink of hot water.
  12. To form the marshmallows, spray a metal spatula with vegetable oil spray and use it to scrape the marshmallow mixture from the bowl into the prepared pan. Do not touch the mixture with your fingers.
  13. Spread the batter as evenly as you can, making sure to get it into the corners.
  14. Let the marshmallows set, uncovered, at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
  15. When set, liberally dust a sheet of parchment paper set on the countertop with the remaining powdered sugar-cornstarch mixture and turn the marshmallow slab out onto it. Remove the plastic wrap.
  16. Using a long sharp knife coated with vegetable oil spray, cut into 2-inch squares. Dust each square with additional powdered sugar mixture.
  17. To store for up to 1 week, arrange marshmallows in an airtight container and seal.

Additional Inspiration

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  1. Penny Wolf says

    I am a marshmallow maker from way back. Martha Stewart got me going in 2003. Believing them to be a blank canvas for
    all kinds of creative ventures I still LOVE the vanilla. Floating around in a cup of hot cocoa or coffee with plenty of Bailey’s
    mixed in is fantastic way to end the day. I sub the corn syrup with honey for my tea drinking friends. (Use a larger pot for boiling because the honey comes way up the pan).
    I enjoyed this post, Thank you!

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Penny, such a nice note, thank you! Homemade marshmallows are a complete revelation. Hope to get into the flavoring options this season.

  2. says

    Every time I see a recipe for marshmallows, I tell myself I’m going to try it. I even watched Ina Garten make some on her show once – actually she was the first to cause that thought to cross my mind. The thing is, as easy as it looks, I just never seem to get around to it. These really look good though and you make them sound even better than they look. Maybe I’ll finally give it a try!
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