Years ago, I learned from my dear friend, Jonni McCoy, author of Miserly Moms, that making your own marshmallows really wasn’t a great way to save money. It’s really not cheaper and, if you’re trying to save money, it’s not worth the work. And Jonni is absolutely right. These marshmallows are NOT cheaper than the store-bought, air-puffed marshmallows. Seriously, there’s no point in making homemade marshmallows just to save money. So if your main goal is saving money on groceries, this post isn’t going to take you on that road.
This weekend, however, I learned that there other reasons to make your own marshmallows. First, there IS a flavor difference that becomes more pronounced if you actually roast your homemade marshmallows. Second, and more importantly, these homemade marshmallows avoid an ingredient that shows up on the Bad List for a lot of parents: corn syrup. So, NO corn syrup at all is harmed in the making of these delicious marshmallows.
Earlier this fall we played around with some homemade marshmallow recipes. I’ve procrastinated about putting the recipe up because the ones we tried ALL called for substantial amounts of corn syrup, something I try to avoid if possible. Last week, however, we had a breakthrough! My dear friend, Jenny, mentioned to me that she was making homemade marshmallows with no corn syrup and no processed sugar!
When Jenny described her recipe, I was delighted to learn that these homemade marshmallows are made with HONEY! Better yet, the recipe is so easy a four year old could make them….except that you definitely do not want a 4 year old around 240 degrees of boiling honey!
The magic ingredient in marshmallows, what gives them their fluff, is plain gelatin. You can find Knox unflavored gelatin in the same section as the jello and pudding products. I’m sure that there are organic products available, but I felt comfortable using the Knox brand.
What you’ll need:
- 3 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin
- 1 c. water, divided
- 1 c. honey
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1 t. vanilla extract
In a deep mixing bowl, whisk together the gelatin and 1/2 c. cold water. This recipe works best if you have a stand mixer (like a Bosch or a Kitchenaid) but it will work if you have a deep bowl and a hand mixer. (The hand mixer will require you to stand for about ten minutes of mixing.)
In a heavy saucepan, stir together the honey, 1/2 c. water, salt, and vanilla. On medium heat, bring to boiling. Use a candy thermometer to determine when the mixture reaches 240°. This will take several minutes, depending on your burner. As soon as the mixture reaches the proper temperature, remove from heat.
Drizzle the very hot honey mixture very slowly into the mixing bowl with the gelatin and water, with the mixer running. After all the hot honey mixture is in the mixer, set the timer for ten minutes and turn the mixer to the highest speed.
While your mixer is doing the heavy work, prepare your pan. Line a baking dish or jelly roll pan with parchment. Sprinkle powdered sugar across the bottom of the pan to keep the marshmallows from sticking. The size of the pan will determine the thickness of the marshmallows.
After ten minutes, the mixture in your mixing bowl should be fluffy and close in texture to marshmallow fluff you get from the store. Spoon it into the prepared pan and spread out evenly. This stuff is sticky and before you know it, you could end up starring in your own cartoon with sticky stuff going everywhere! Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the top of the marshmallows.
Put the tray of marshmallows-to-be in a cool dry place for about 10 hours. After they’ve dried, sprinkle with a little more powdered sugar and cut into squares. Toss the squares into a tub with powdered sugar and shake up. Arrange the marshmallows on a tray to dry for a couple more hours.
My friend Jenny toasts coconut to sprinkle on the parchment and on top of the marshmallows so that she isn’t adding any processed sugar. I am a woman of much less principle so I used powdered sugar.
Okay, once I tried this recipe the way it was meant to be made, I had to get creative and, oh boy, did I have some fun! First, I tried making this recipe with molasses instead of honey. It worked out nicely…and as long as you like molasses, the marshmallows were delicious. Since molasses has some trace elements of good things in it, the marshmallows are bound to be better for you. Of course, since molasses is dark brown, the marshmallows are brown and not bright white.
Then….I tried peppermint extract instead of vanilla. Oh. My. Word! Those were delicious and will be fabulous in hot cocoa. I sprinkled some little colored sprinkles on top of them to keep them separate from the vanilla marshmallows. This makes me really curious about some of the other flavor variations I can try….
I have a couple of young friends who are particularly sensitive to corn syrup, so I am delighted to find this recipe for a fun treat that they CAN eat.
Here’s another thing we’ve learned: these are really yummy compared to store-bought marshmallows. If, however, you toast one of these little babies……OH MY WORD! The flavor is fabulous! They toast faster and get really liquid-y much faster than commercial marshmallows, but they are just so delicious!
Now, back to my friend, Jonni McCoy and her passion for helping moms save money….while homemade marshmallows won’t save you any money if you’re buying the store brand white marshmallows, making them yourself WILL be less expensive if your alternative is buying marshmallows at the local health food store. This really matters a lot when you’re considering a kid who just can’t DO corn syrup.
These marshmallows also make a fun Christmas gift for your gift basket.