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The Magic in Homemade Marshmallows

There is true magic in homemade marshmallows that make them a special treat

True, it's easy to pick up a bag of marshmallows at the store and enjoy that familiar burst of pillowy sugar surge across the taste buds. You probably also love the insulin spike, too. Who can't resist a marshmallow if it's offered? There is magic to be had in going to the trouble of making them from scratch. The appearance is different from the bagged varieties, and the taste level is definitely elevated.

 

Famous television personalities (as in Martha Stewart for one) have touted making homemade marshmallows for years. They produce these glorious little white squares and make up beautiful gift packages. Indeed, this is a wonderful idea, as long as you aren't gifting anyone who shouldn't be eating sugar. Always know your giftee before rewarding them with any type of dessert.

Take your marshmallows one step further and add a bit of food coloring for seasonal goodies. Red, white, and blue for the Fourth, for instance, plus the obvious colors for Halloween and Christmas. You can experiment with some fun pastels for Easter, too.

This recipe doesn't use eggs, which makes the marshmallows last longer. It's easily doubled for a larger batch, which is a good idea as you' won't be able to resist snacking on a few before they land in someone else's home. Hand mixers won't work, by the way - get out your stand mixer and whisk away!

It's also good to experiment with a smaller batch before you go totally crazy. Also, make them in smaller batches when you're mixing and matching colors.

Marshmallow Magic
(Makes about 30)

1-1/4 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons water (separate use)
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cooking spray
Powdered sugar (for coating)

Food coloring of choice

In a mixing bowl, combine gelatin and 1/4 water. Mix and let rest for 30 minutes.

Over low or medium heat, blend ¼ water with the sugar, corn syrup, and the salt. Stir continuously until all ingredients are dissolved. Bring to a boil and continue stirring. Insert a candy thermometer, reduce heat, but allow to boil for about 10-15 minutes, or until the temperature reaches 244º F.

Set the mixer to whisk on low and add the heated mixture to the cold. Set whisk to high and let it work the mixture for about 15 minutes. When the marshmallow mixture is about triple in size, add the vanilla extract 2 teaspoons water, and the food coloring. It's ready to transfer to a small casserole dish.

Your choice of baking dish size will depend on how thick you want the marshmallows to be. Give a solid coating of cooking spray and then a generous dusting with powdered sugar. Pour in the mixture (very gooey at this point). Leave the marshmallows for at least twelve hours or overnight. Turn them out on a board dusted with additional powdered sugar (use a dull knife to release the edges). Cut into squares or rectangles.

If you want to make a thinner layer, you can also create shapes.

Store in an airtight container. They'll keep for at least two weeks or longer.

If you're giving these as gifts, be sure to use food-grade containers. Clear bags are nice, too, so the marshmallow colors will show through.

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