I gave up on marshmallows a couple years ago. I made the mistake of looking at the ingredients on a marshmallow bag one day in the grocery store and it was amazing what all went into those little puffs–it was scary stuff, folks! Then I discovered, if you do manage to find ‘mallows that don’t have tons of mysterious goo in them, prepare to lose an arm and leg in the checkout line, because they are not cheap, kids. Plus, am I the only person who thinks store-bought ‘mallows taste just a teensy bit like fluffy sawdust? For something with such gooey pillowy promise, I expect them to taste better than cotton balls! So I just sort of gave up on marshmallows (not that they were an integral part of my life or anything, they were nice in cocoa, good for the occasional s’more and whatnot).
Then, a few months ago, I found myself craving marshmallows. I wanted to make krispie treats, cocoa, s’mores, and mallow-stuffed caramels with a vengeance, but alas! store-bought marshmallows would not do! So I put out the call for a homemade marshmallow recipe, and luckily for me (and now you!), the internets delivered and pointed me toward this lovely recipe. I followed the recipe and made valentine heart marshmallows and they were fabulous! Flavorful, fluffy, easy, and fun to make, kids! And I used them for cocoa, and krispie treats, and s’mores…all fabulous. And that was about as far as I took it.
A few weeks ago, I was cruising around pinterest (yes, that great time suck of the 21st century) and ran across a pin of some Martha Stewart holiday marshmallows…peppermint and red swirl marshmallows, no less! (Which pretty much guaranteed that I had to try them…what’s better than a marshmallow? A pretty, peppermint flavored marshmallow, of course!) But I didn’t really care for Martha’s recipe (yes, I disagree with the almighty M!), so I returned to the recipe I’d used before, but tweaked it a bit.
The main tweak I made was in the flavorings. The original recipe calls for honey and vanilla, which makes for a delicate, floral, honey/vanilla flavored mallow. But I wanted peppermint! The peppermintiest peppermint I could make! So I replaced the honey and vanilla with peppermint extract. And then doubled the amount of peppermint extract after taste testing the mallow. I also added some food coloring and a brief swirl session to get the festive red swirls that Martha Stewart’s recipe boasted. Easy peasy. In the end, I ended up with what, in my humble opinion, are the perfect peppermint marshmallows!
Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp (13g) knox (unflavored) gelatin
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp honey (optional)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1-1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
- 8-12 drops red food coloring
- butter and/or cooking spray, as needed
- Prepare your mallow pan. If you want 1/2″ to 1″ tall mallows, use a rimmed 9×13 cookie sheet. If you want 1″ – 2″ mallows, use an 8×8 baking pan. To prepare the pan, spread with a thin layer of butter (or spray with cooking spray, but make sure it’s not olive oil flavored!); be sure to coat the sides, too! Combine cornstarch and powdered sugar and dump about half of it into greased pan, then tap it around till bottom and sides are well coated. Tap excess back into the bowl of remaining cornstarch mixture–you’ll use it later.
- Bloom gelatin in 1/2 cup water in the bottom of your stand mixer bowl (don’t make these without a stand mixer–your stirring arm will fall off long before the mallow is properly whipped).
- Combine sugar, water, honey (if using), and salt in a 2 qt. saucepan. Bring to a boil and heat, stirring occasionally, to firm ball stage, about 240 degrees F. Use a candy thermometer unless you’re experienced at testing candy stages.
- When your syrup hits firm ball stage, remove from heat, turn on your stand mixer on low (with the wire beater attachment attached) and slowly pour your sugar syrup into the running mixer. Don’t spill–your syrup is HOT and will burn you!
- Once all the syrup is added, beat for a minute to mix well, then crank the speed up to high and let it beat until light and fluffy and mallowy. This can take anywhere from 8-12 minutes, so be patient! Add your peppermint extract and whirl everything around for another minute to mix well.
- Grease a spatula and coax mallow out of mixing bowl and into your prepared pan. Spread evenly (or you’ll have unevenly tall mallows, which is not the end of the world, by any means!). Drop red food color every few inches over the top of the mallow, then using a toothpick or bamboo skewer, swirl the surface of the mallow around to spread the red color into swirls.
- Let mallow set up for 3-4 hours before cutting into individual marshmallows. When you’re ready to cut, butter a sharp knife (or cookie cutter, if you want shapes) and sprinkle a bit of your cornstarch mixture on a cutting board. Using a sifter or mesh strainer, sprinkle the rest of the cornstarch over the top of the mallow (this will keep it from sticking to your fingers). Gently pull the mallow out of the pan (don’t worry if you have to tug on it, it will regain its shape once out of the pan). Cut into desired shapes, being sure to dust the cut edges with more cornstarch mixture so they don’t stick together.
- To store, keep in a sealed container (or plastic bag) on the counter for 2-3 weeks (if they survive that long!) or freeze for up to 2-3 months.
The only downside of making your own marshmallows is that you are essentially detonating a sticky, powdered sugar-spewing bomb in your kitchen. So, you know, have some hot water and good dish soap handy for the cleanup! Not bad if that’s the worst part of it, eh?! So whip up a batch and enjoy a celebratory cup of cocoa crowned with your very own peppermint marshmallows!