A Gift From the Kitchen: Homemade Marshmallows

SAM 5400 Edited A Gift From the Kitchen: Homemade Marshmallows

At last, a Gift From the Kitchen I have actually given as a gift instead.  This past Saturday evening, friends gathered together to celebrate a girl named Niki’s birthday. The fun part was Niki didn’t know we had gathered together to celebrate her birthday until she walked in the restaurant. Her best friend and cousin were able to visit from Raleigh to attend the party, and the expression on Niki’s face and the shout that came out of her mouth when she saw them was highly entertaining for the rest of us.

Niki’s friend Kyrie baked and decorated an AMAZING cake based on a few of Niki’s favorite things: argyle, hockey, and penguins (the Antarctic kind, not the Pittsburgh kind). As for me, I made homemade marshmallows because a) they were on my blog bucket list and b) on a previous occasion I heard Niki remark she wanted to try homemade marshmallows.

In my imaginary world not bound by the time constraints of my real world, we would have gotten together for a homemade marshmallow party where we could have made lots of uniquely flavored marshmallows. In my real world, I made vanilla-honey and chocolate marshmallows before the party and stuck them in Niki’s gift bag.

SAM 5427 Edited e1324256232800 A Gift From the Kitchen: Homemade Marshmallows

The Birthday Girl

The marshmallow recipe I used is from “The Craft of Baking A Gift From the Kitchen: Homemade Marshmallows” by Karen Demasco. Though its many steps are time consuming, the steps include a lot of down time that allow one to wash the dishes, wipe off the counters, sing and dance, etc. As I sat writing this post, I realized using a marshmallow recipe from “The Craft of Baking” was quite fitting since the recipe for one of Niki’s favorite things from this blog, homemade graham crackers, came from the same cookbook. Maybe I should have just given her the cookbook?

I wrote the recipe below pretty much as it is seen in the cookbook, though I want to point out a couple of items. The recipe calls for “two tablespoons plus two teaspoons of powdered gelatin (about 2 1/2 envelopes).” I measured my powdered gelatin out and found I needed 3 1/2 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 Gelatine.  I also had a lot of the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch mixture left over, so I believe the measurements could be halved and still provide plenty.

SAM 5416 Edited A Gift From the Kitchen: Homemade Marshmallows

While discussing homemade marshmallows, a friend asked if they were like making meringues. I exclaimed “yes” because whipping egg whites was exactly what I was thinking of while I watched the marshmallow mixture come together. Though no egg whites were involved in the making of these marshmallows, the corn syrup, honey, sugar, water, and gelatin mix until they nearly triple in volume to a light, fluffy, cloud-like (or as near as I can image what a cloud is like) consistency.

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 a very light coating of nonstick cooking spray (I tend to over spray) and using unflavored nonstick cooking spray which is typically more transparent than the yellow butter flavor. As you can probably tell, I opted to make thick marshmallows with an 8 x 8 pan.

SAM 5401 Edited A Gift From the Kitchen: Homemade Marshmallows

I made 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.

Niki’s verdict? “The chocolate ones are honestly the best thing I’ve ever tasted!” That’s quite a recommendation! I too really liked the marshmallows soft, melt-in-your mouth texture, but they were very, very sweet.  These treats are definitely worth making to enjoy with hot chocolate, s’mores, or as a lone sweet bite.  Enjoy!

SAM 5417 Edited A Gift From the Kitchen: Homemade Marshmallows

5.0 from 1 reviews
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin (3½ envelopes)
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the corn syrup, honey, and granulated sugar.
  4. Add ⅓ cup water and very gently stir so the sugar is damp but does not touch the sides of the pan.
  5. Cook over high heat until the sugar reaches the firm ball stage, 245 degrees F, about 6-8 minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to 225 degrees F, about 12 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. Increase the mixer to medium-high speed once all of the sugar syrup has been added.
  9. After 5 minutes of mixing, add the vanilla and the salt.
  10. Continue mixing until the mixture is very thick and the bowl feels cool, about 15 minutes.
  11. Fold in an additional flavoring (listed in the notes below) if desired.
  12. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking sheet or baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula coated in non-stick cooking spray.
  13. Let stand at room temperature to set up, about 2-3 hours.
  14. Whisk together the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch. When the marshmallows have set up, coat a clean counter or other work space with some of the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch mixture.
  15. Invert the marshmallows from the baking sheet or baking dish on top of the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch mixture.
  16. Peel back the plastic wrap from what is now the top of the marshmallows.
  17. Sift some of the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch mixture over the tops.
  18. 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.
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. Store the marshmallows in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for one week.

Suzy Q’s for Susie K

SAM 4089 Edited Suzy Q’s for Susie K

I think it’s safe to say I have officially crossed the line.  When you place your mother’s most-despised nickname in the title of your post, I think big trouble is a reasonable expectation.

My mother, Susan, very strongly dislikes to be referred to as Susie.  This in itself is 9/10ths of the reason we call her Susie as much as possible. The only person who can really get away with calling my mother Susie is her mother.  I love to hear Grandma call my mom Susie – it’s just so cute when Grandma says “Susie”, and it brings to mind images of my mom running around when she was a little girl.

As for Grandma calling Mom Susie, she a), probably doesn’t know Mom doesn’t like the nickname and b), probably won’t stop when she finds out because it is what she has always done.  When it comes to calling their daughters by name, moms can pretty much use whatever name they want.  Like Suzy, my mom is probably referring to me by a phrase that also includes a different four-letter word that begins with the letter “s” (i.e. that little sh!t) right now.

SAM 4093 Edited e1320522205273 Suzy Q’s for Susie K

But I had to bake something to honor Mom on her birthday. I had absolutely no idea what to bake until my sister reminded me, “the woman loves anything chocolate.”  So I baked  a chocolate devil’s food cake and turned it into the popular Hostess snack cake, Suzy Q’s.

The recipe was interesting because it called for whisking together all of the dry ingredients, sugar included, and adding them to the wet ingredients and softened butter.  I’m so accustomed to creaming the butter and sugar, then adding in the wet and dry ingredients, that the instructions gave me pause. But I followed them as written, and the cake turned out great. Not only did it taste great, it made my home smell like warm, rich, divine, comforting chocolate for hours.

What is the difference between a devil’s food cake and a regular chocolate cake? Airiness is a feature of devil’s food, so be sure to beat the batter on high speed as instructed.  For all intents and purposes, devil’s food cake is a chocolate angel food cake, so get that batter light and fluffy.

SAM 4096 Edited Suzy Q’s for Susie K

You really can’t go wrong with Suzy Q’s.  Not only does it make a tasty cake, it also makes for a catchy tune.  The song says it best, “Oh , Suzy Q, I love you.” Happy Birthday Mom!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Suzy Q’s
Recipe type: cake
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅔ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • Filling
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1¼ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1¼ cups marshmallow fluff
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the milk, eggs and softened butter.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.
  4. Increase speed to high and beat for three minutes until the batter is smooth and increased in volume.
  5. Pour the dough into a greased 9 x 13 cake pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. While the cake cools, make the filling.
  8. Beat together the butter, confectioners' sugar, marshmallow fluff and vanilla at high speed until light and fluffy.
  9. Cut the cooled cake into rectangles of desired size.
  10. Spread filling over half of the rectangles and cover with the remaining rectangles.

Pumpkin Popcorn Balls for A Little Pumpkin

SAM 3975 Edited Pumpkin Popcorn Balls for A Little Pumpkin

Dear Jolene,

Can you believe it’s already been two years since you were born?! I really don’t know why I’m writing you a letter since you are only two and haven’t learned to read yet, but I can’t just drop by for a visit because I live three states south of where you live.  It’s sort of a pain we can’t see each other more often, but it is what it is.

I was really happy to hear you liked the books you got for your birthday gift.  Do you have a favorite book yet?  I don’t remember my favorite book from when I was two years old, but my favorite book when I was a kid was The Pain and The Great One by Judy Blume.   I bet you will like it too since you are an older sister to a little brother.

What else did you get for your birthday? Someday when you are older, you should ask for a real live pony.  Your mommy wanted a pony when she was little. She never got one, so I bet she would be happy to get one for you.

SAM 3971 Edited e1319409965657 Pumpkin Popcorn Balls for A Little Pumpkin

I made some popcorn balls for you as a virtual birthday treat. The invitation to your birthday party had a pumpkin on it, so I thought you might like to see popcorn balls that look like pumpkins.

You can make these pumpkin popcorn balls with your mommy and daddy.  In fact, the last time I made popcorn balls before I made these, your daddy helped. It was two years ago at Christmas, and he was working near Papaw and Mamaw’s house.  We all made red and green popcorn balls before you and your mommy got there.  It wasn’t a lot of fun because the popcorn was held together by syrup heated to the soft ball stage, and boy, that syrup was hot!

It’s a lot easier to make these popcorn balls than it was those Christmas popcorn balls.  These use melted marshmallows instead of hot syrup to hold the popcorn together.  The pumpkin popcorn balls are really, really sticky to put together, but its nothing a good coat of non-stick cooking spray can’t handle. Just be sure to ask your mommy or daddy to help you because little girls should not use the kitchen unattended. Remember the last time you wandered into the kitchen alone?  Your little brother ended up wearing a colander on his head!

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After you form the popcorn and melted marshmallow mixture into balls, you can decorate them with Tootsie Rolls and green jelly candies. I even made a jack-o-lantern face by cutting and rolling pieces of a Tootsie Roll, but you could use chocolate chips instead if you have them. (I used all of mine when I made your mom’s virtual birthday treat, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies).

Now, I know you are not always a little pumpkin.  But even when you are ornery, you are the apple of  a lot of eyes.  I  tried to make popcorn balls that looked like apples too, but a funny thing happened when I added the strawberry Jello to the marshmallows.  The mixture turned pink instead of red.  Can you believe that?

I was really disappointed at first, but then I remembered you got a pink pumpkin when you were born.  I  figured that meant I could make pink pumpkin popcorn balls too!

063 Edited Pumpkin Popcorn Balls for A Little Pumpkin


SAM 3964 Edited Pumpkin Popcorn Balls for A Little Pumpkin

Well, I guess that’s all for now.  I hope you have a happy birthday today, and many, many more.


Aunt LeAndra

Jolene Pumpkin 683x1024 Pumpkin Popcorn Balls for A Little Pumpkin

 Photo Credit – Emily B.

Fall Pumpkin Balls
Serves: 12
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 6 cups (1 bag) mini-marshmallows
  • 1 - 3 ounce package orange Jell-o
  • 12 cups popped popcorn
  • optional: 1 cup peanuts
  1. Place the butter and marshmallows in a large, microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave the butter and the marshmallows for approximately 45-60 seconds or until the marshmallows are puffed.
  3. Stir in the orange Jell-o powder.
  4. Pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn and the peanuts. Stir quickly to coat.
  5. Spray non-stick cooking spray on hands, and shape the marshmallow-popcorn mixture into balls.
  6. Decorate with Tootsie Rolls and green jellies.
This recipe should make 12 tennis-ball sized popcorn balls. I cannot stress enough the importance of well greased hands when forming the popcorn balls. Licorice and chocolate chips are also good items for decorating the pumpkins.