With the deadline to submit state fair entries just a couple days away, I spent my afternoon making homemade marshmallows for one of my entries. Last year, I submitted marshmallows on a whim (having never made them before) and realized mine were far smaller than my competition. This year, I focused less on cute little round ones, and went for thick and fluffy squares.
Last year, I also bemoaned the fact that at the last minute I scrapped my intention of submitting mexican mocha flavored marshmallows for just standard white vanilla. They were all good, but I didn’t trust my gut. Today, I made two batches: mexican mocha and lemon meringue. They’re both really good…but the chocolate is undeniably my winner.
If you’ve never made marshmallows, it’s actually pretty easy. The toughest part is the mess (cornstarch and powdered sugar disaster!), but I’ve come up with a few tricks to minimize the pain.
First off, I’ve tried a few different recipes over the last year, and the golden winner is from A Beautiful Mess. Alton Brown from the Food Network has one that seems popular, but the result was far less fluffy than the ABM’s recipe:
Here are my tips for marshmallows:
1. Cover your working surface with foil, and do everything there. It makes clean up significantly easier.
2. Use a sifter to dust your pans with cornstarch and powdered sugar. Rather than clumps on the bottom of your marshmallows, you’ll get a fine dusting. Dust the top after you pour in the fluff, too.
3. To make chocolate marshmallows, I added 3 heaping tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder during the last minute of mixing. You can also add a couple drops of extract (like cinnamon or peppermint) if you want to really take it to the next level.
4. You don’t need to wait overnight, but you do need to wait at least 4-5 hours. I made the mistake in the past of thinking they were set and they ended up not turning out very well. Today I put them aside and took a catnap.
5. Once the marshmallow is set, ease the whole thing out carefully with a butter knife and onto a big cutting board. I’ve tried cutting them individually out of the pan and it SUCKS. Also, don’t use the pizza cutter. Or scissors. Those failed repeatedly. A big sharp knife is best.
And the moment of truth? Making a s’more over the stove with just the chocolate marshmallow. SO GOOD. I’m not sure if my marshmallows are really worth a blue ribbon, but they are a huge step above last year’s entry.