Schatzi: I remember my tutu (Hawaiian for “grandmother”) telling me how much she missed marshmallows sans corn syrup. After all, corn syrup has invaded virtually everything sweet made in the country–and much that isn’t sweet. As I grew up a bit, and sampled things like Mexican Coke (sweetened with cane syrup), I began to see her point. One of my aunts is allergic to corn, too, so finding a treat for her seemed like a nice idea. Since it can be difficult and somewhat costly to find corn syrup-free marshmallows, I decided I ought to make some for her; after all, there ought to be plenty of recipes floating around that use sugar instead, since people cooked with cane sugar long before corn syrup became ubiquitous. Like many things I mean to do, I would forget about it, then remember my quest from time to time, but I did one day remember and seek such a recipe out. I chose to follow this one from Rosehaven Cottage’s Kitchen and this one from Cuisine du Monde–the two I could find that were neither sugar-free nor corn syrup-full. They were perfect: simple, timeworn (in the case of Grammy’s), and entirely lacking in corn syrup. So I borrowed a candy thermometer from my sister Malia, girded my loins, and tried it.
I feel I ought to mention also, that I’ve never before made candy–not even fudge, which seems odd considering the number of young adult books I read in which fudge making was a regular occurrence (see The Hunky-Dory Dairy and the Sleepover Friends books for examples). So this was an entirely new venture for me, and I must say, I enjoyed it. A good thermometer and preparing beforehand are key for novices like myself; I had everything measured, buttered, and in place before I started, which is entirely unlike me. (I have bad habits.) This was such an amazingly simple recipe with excellent results. My Aunt Joan thought they were delicious, and I can’t wait to find out how Tutu liked them. I think I may have to make up some peppermint marshmallows for the holidays, perhaps with a crushed candy coating? Also: next time, I will definitely use either vanilla paste, or crushed vanilla bean for both visual interest and flavor.
- sifted powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons gelatin
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Butter a small, shallow pan (I used an 8×8), and dust lightly with powdered sugar. Lining with greased wax paper or clingfilm may be helpful.
- In a large bowl, whisk gelatine with cold water. Let stand.
- In a small saucepan, cook the sugar, salt, and boiling water over medium heat until it boils, whisking constantly to dissolve the sugar and salt. When it boils, stop whisking and let cook until temperature reaches 236–about 15 minutes.
- Pour simple syrup slowly over gelatin, and add vanilla (or other flavoring and a few drops of color if so desired). Beat until thick and cool, approximately 2o minutes.
- Pour into prepared pan, scraping bowl with a buttered spatula. Dust lightly with powdered sugar, and let stand overnight.
- Turn marshmallows out onto a cutting board dusted with sifted powdered sugar. Cut candy with a sharp greased knife or pizza cutter. Lightly dredge cut edges of marshmallows in sifted powdered sugar to prevent them from sticking too much. (Powdered sugar here acts much like potato starch in mochi making.)
Chopped nuts or fruit may be added to this recipe. Coconut can also be used for dusting the marshmallows, or they can be dipped in chocolate. If making non-vanilla marshmallows, substitute a teaspoon of extract for one teaspoon of vanilla.) Also check out Squidoo’s version using maple syrup instead of sugar or corn syrup.