It's a Marshmallow World

Making marshmallows is easier than you think

First of all, I’m not a huge fan of marshmallows.  When I use them for cooking, I don’t feel they are all that flavorful or actually add anything other than some sweetness and texture to a recipe.  Speaking of texture, I can hardly stand reaching into a bag and touching those chalky  little pellets.  I always hope and pray they haven’t congealed together so I can just pour them into a measuring cup without incident.   And, even though I know they are an integrative part of the classic s’mores equation, I would rather forego the whole marshmallow thing and just eat the candy bar.
That said, last year I was wandering around Pinterest and stumbled upon a recipe for homemade marshmallows.  Everywhere I looked, people were making marshmallows and raving how delicious and easy they were to make. Personal testimonies began popping up how homemade marshmallows changed their entire outlook on this centuries old candy.  I saw  colorful pink, green, and blue marshmallows. Peppermint marshmallows, coconut marshmallows, and gingerbread marshmallows began to flood my mind.
Marshmallows, Marshmallows, Marshmallows!
I knew I was going to have to get over my self-made disgust and give these a try.  How could so many people be wrong?
Turns out they weren’t wrong.
Come to find out, homemade marshmallows are a far cry from store-bought.  I seriously could not believe how good they were and  I made numerous batches last year for Christmas presents and for my own mugs of hot chocolate.
Making marshmallows is easier than you think

Homemade Marshmallows
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 TBS. pure vanilla extract (or peppermint extract)
1/2-3/4 cup crushed peppermints (optional)
Powdered sugar for dusting
Lightly spray an 8x12 nonmetal baking pan (be sure to
spray the sides of the pan)and lightly dust with sifted
confectioners sugar.
Sprinkle the gelatin on 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an
electric mixer and allow to sit while you make the syrup.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a
small saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240
degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.  With the
whisk attachment and mixer on low speed, slowly pour sugar
syrup into dissolved gelatin.  Whip on high speed (I used speed 6
on my mixer) for 10-13 minutes.
Add vanilla extract and 1/2 cup crushed peppermints(optional)
and mix thoroughly and quickly.  Pour into prepared pan and let
stand uncovered overnight.

Here are some tips I found helpful.
I like peppermint, so most of my batches were made with the peppermint extract and crushed candy canes (which are a huge pain to unwrap!)  When I stumbled upon a box of unwrapped candy cane sticks, that sped up the crushing process tremendously.
Making marshmallows is easier than you think
If you choose to add the peppermint pieces, an easy way to crush them is to place them in the freezer first to make them more brittle.  Then place in a heavy-duty baggy (or double baggy if using thinner bags),  place on a doubled towel, and hit gently with a rolling pin.
Making marshmallows is easier than you think
Once you have mixed the ten to twelve minutes, quickly pour the mixture into the pan.  Don’t fuss getting every drop in the pan.  Once this mixture cools, it is next to impossible to scrap it out.

After the pan has stayed out overnight, pop it in the freezer to make cutting easier.  Thirty minutes to an hour does the trick.  After you cut the marshmallow squares, lightly roll them in sifted powdered sugar to coat the sticky sides.
Making marshmallows is easier than you think
Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Making marshmallows is easy but somewhat time-consuming, but the end result is worth the effort, in my opinion.  It’s a great way to use up extra candy, candy canes or peppermints after the holidays and can really add the wow factor to your holiday gift-giving.

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