Surprise parties are the worst best thing. The lies and anticipation that goes into keeping the party a secret (the worst) is tempered only if you can pull the surprise off (the best). As you have probably guessed, I recently attended a surprise party.
Some friends and I recently gathered our friend Niki’s birthday, except she did not know we had gathered together to celebrate her birthday until she walked in the restaurant. The expression on her face and the shout that came out of her mouth when she saw us was highly entertaining. Success!
Niki remarked in the past that she wanted to try homemade marshmallows, so I made vanilla-honey and chocolate marshmallows and stuck them in her gift bag. This was my first attempt at making marshmallows at home, and as you can see, I made some mistakes.
First, the size. As you can see, I made giant marshmallows. I opted to make thick marshmallows with an 8 x 8 pan, but you may want to consider a larger pan for a more reasonably sized marshmallows. Also, the butter-flavor nonstick cooking spray I had on hand left a yellow edge along some of the marshmallows I cut. I would suggest using unflavored nonstick cooking spray which is typically more transparent than the yellow butter flavor.
A friend asked if making marshmallows were like making meringues. Whipping egg whites was exactly what I was thinking of while I watched the marshmallow mixture come together, so in a way, I’d say yes. No egg whites were involved in the making of these marshmallows, but the mixture nearly triples in volume as it whips.
I made the chocolate marshmallows by adding unsweetened cocoa powder to the plain marshmallow mixture flavored with honey and pure vanilla extract. I also added the cocoa powder to my confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch mixture when it came time to coat the chocolate marshmallows.
I liked the marshmallows soft, melt-in-your mouth texture, but they were very, very sweet. Niki’s verdict? “The chocolate ones are honestly the best thing I’ve ever tasted!” I’d say that’s quite a recommendation. Enjoy!
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
- 1⅓ cups cold water, divided
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- Coat a 12 x 17 jelly roll pan (thin marshmallows) or an 8 x 8 baking dish (thick marshmallows) with nonstick cooking spray, then line the dish with plastic wrap. The cooking spray will hold the plastic wrap in place.
- When the dish is lined, spray the plastic wrap with non-stick cooking spray as well. Set aside.
- Whisk together the gelatin and one cup of water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to sit while you prepare the sugar mixture.
- In a small saucepan, combine the corn syrup, honey, and granulated sugar.
- Add ⅓ cup water and very gently stir so the sugar is damp but does not touch the sides of the pan.
- Cook over high heat until the sugar reaches the firm ball stage, 245 degrees F, about six to eight minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to 225 degrees F, about 12 minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour a stream of the sugar syrup down the edge of the mixer bowl into the water and gelatin.
- Increase the mixer to medium-high speed once all of the sugar syrup has been added.
- After five minutes of mixing, add the vanilla and the salt.
- Continue mixing until the mixture is very thick and the bowl feels cool, about 15 minutes.
- Fold in an additional flavoring (listed in the notes below) if desired.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking sheet or baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula coated in non-stick cooking spray.
- Let stand at room temperature to set up, about two to three hours.
- When the marshmallows have set up, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch. Coat a clean counter or other work space with some of the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch mixture, then invert the marshmallows from the baking sheet or baking dish on top of the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch mixture.
- Peel back the plastic wrap from what is now the top of the marshmallows.
- Sift some of the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch mixture over the tops.
- Using a knife coated in cooking spray, cut the marshmallows into the desired size squares. Toss the marshmallows in the remaining confectioners' sugar and cornstarch mixture.
- Store the marshmallows in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for one week.
Coconut Marshmallows: Fold in 3 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut.
Lemon Marshmallows: Fold in the finely grated zest of 3 lemons.
Spiced Marshmallows: Fold in a mixture of 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom, and ½ teaspoon ground star anise.
Mocha Marshmallows: Fold in ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon coffee extract.
The recipe calls for "two tablespoons plus two teaspoons of powdered gelatin (about 2½ envelopes)." I measured my powdered gelatin out and found I needed 3½ envelopes to meet the two tablespoons plus two teaspoons requirement. The envelopes I refer to are those found in the 1 ounce box of Knox Original Gelatin.
I had a lot of the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch mixture left over, so those measurements could probably be halved and still provide plenty.