Crafts etc and Food and Food: Home Cookin'07 Jan 2010 06:11 pm


My make-at-home, oven-friendly S’more kit. Based on an idea from Twig and Thistle.

So perhaps the title of this post is a bit misleading. I knew what I was getting into by making marshmallows. Candy thermometers, sticky messes and experimentation. But somehow, it still turned into a nightmare.

Oh sure, everyone says they are easy. Those people are highly talented in the kitchen though: people like Martha Stewart and the bloggers behind Smitten Kitchen and Whisk. Even with an anxious approach, I still screwed up.

My intention was to put together adorable little S’more packages as New Years gifts. I can’t take credit for the idea, it originated here, at Twig and Thistle. The main difference was that I was going to make my own marshmallows. I really regret not making my own graham crackers as well, but: next year!

The most challenging part of this was finding a trustworthy candy thermometer and the right packaging for the kit. I ended up ordering a bundle of clear acrylic boxes from a wedding favour supply company in Vancouver called Wedding Things. A company called Uline, as well as Etsy and eBay were both options, but they either sold in HUGE amounts or shipping was a bit higher than I liked, so I went with a company close to home.

The first recipe I tried was from Smitten Kitchen. I liked it as it included egg whites, which is not a common component of most marshmallow recipes. I was hoping they would make springy, less saccharine marshmallows. I bought most of my ingredients from Bulk Barn (more on that later) and made them with my mom’s KitchenAid mixer. It’s an important tool for making marshmallows, as a hand mixer may just not have enough power. But some people reported success, so give it a try.



Uh-oh. This doesn’t look right. It foamed up like a science experiment, too.

My first error: using a pot that was too large. I anticipated a huge mess, so I used a huge pot to contain the sugar syrup. This allowed the sugar mix to have large changes in temperature, and I think in the end what got me was that my thermometer didn’t get a good read, and I was anxious for the mix to hit the magic temperature of 240F. One second it was clear and bubbly…and an instant later: golden brown and smelling of burnt sugar.

I put my mix into the gelatin in my KitchenAid mixer, and mixed. Then: problems. The candy syrup had hit the candy temperature, and was starting to solidify. It got stuck in the marshmallow mix, to the whisk and embedded itself in the mix.

This is what I liked to call marshmallow amber.



Much like real amber, right? Just missing the prehistoric insect.


The hard chunks were embedded in nearly every marshmallow, stuck to the KitchenAid mixer whisk and pretty much ruined my first batch…and nearly killed the KitchenAid. It was overheating like you wouldn’t believe, as the candy wrapped itself around the whisk and slowed the motor considerably.


While the flavour was good: kind of caramel tinged, the texture and colour were horrible, and there were still hidden chunks of candy hidden inside. Bad news.

So, I remade the marshmallows, using a new recipe. This time, no egg whites, and I relied on a more scientific Alton Brown recipe. He laid it down in terms my science background could understand. Oh: I also did not let the candy mixture get too hot, stopping at 235F. I added a half teaspoon more of vanilla, and used clear vanilla so it kept the marshmallows snow-white.


The second batch went much better. Here, cutting them. Some people use scissors, or a pizza cutter.


Giving the marshmallows a corn starch/icing sugar bath.

The first batch is on the right, the second on the left. They are puffier as I used smaller pans to make them thicker, and didn’t over heat the syrup this time. They were a bit sweeter because there was more corn syrup in them, but the texture was wonderful.

Packaged up, tied with bakers twine and…marshmallows

Given instructions and a best before date.

My recipe cards were some silly tissue paper fires. I think a grade two student may be more skilled with glue than I am.

So my tips:

  • Use a medium sized, Teflon coated pot.
  • Get a thermometer you trust, and pull the syrup off the stove at, or just below 240F.
  • Coat your stiff spatula in spray oil or wet it first before scraping the marshmallow out of the mixer bowl.
  • RESIST the urge to scrape everything out of the bowl. This is where things get really sticky. It may go against your nature of “getting the last drop”, but it will be easier.
  • Use a mix of corn starch and icing sugar to roll the slightly sticky mallows in.

I will be trying lavender marshmallows soon, much like the ones I was too full to try from The Bison in Banff.

Some other marshmallow posts:

2 Responses to “Kitchen Nightmares: Marshmallows”

  1. on 10 Jan 2010 at 1:27 am 32-P

    Homemade marshmallows have always fallen into my ‘food tourism’ category, I think you’re the first person I know to actually attempt them! They look gorgeous.

    Is the recipe you tried the same as the one at Cooking for Engineers? I’ve seen a number of references to the recipe before.

  2. on 10 Jan 2010 at 11:21 am Kelly

    I LOVE Cooking for Engineers recipes, but no, it differs slightly. A bit less water, a little less corn syrup. I think I might give that one a try though. The recipes all differ in ridiculously small ways, and everyone will tell you theirs is “the best.”