Winter Is a Marshmallow World

I tend to think of marshmallows as a summertime treat; probably from years of toasting the things on a stick after the steaks came off the hibachi. It was fun to hold the marshmallows as close to the hot coals as possible to see if they would catch fire. But they also make a great holiday treat, and these might just get added to my Christmas repertoire.

Marshmallows always seemed like one of those things that would be too much trouble to make at home, but they’re actually quite easy. And although I hadn’t made them since I was a kid, I had a craving for the things yesterday and so whipped up a batch.

In a day that was otherwise filled with small disasters (broke the handle off my coffee mug, also broke a custard cup, tipped over the dogs [full] water bowl, and had a computer that wouldn’t let me onto my own website because it was getting a virus warning), I truthfully expected this recipe wouldn’t work; that the entire kitchen would be covered in unset pink marshmallow fluff that acted like glue. I pictured Greg coming home from work to find me and the dogs adhered to the stand mixer, licking our way free.

My point being – this is dead easy and almost impossible to screw up.

The original recipe (from Jean Pare’s Company’s Coming series) was meant to be made as a square with a shortbread base, but I’ve just gone with the marshmallow part. It’s the simplest marshmallow recipe I’ve come across as well – no egg whites, no cornstarch – and creates a light airy sweet that melts on the tongue.


3/4 cup cold water
1-1/4 oz (7g) unflavoured gelatin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup icing sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond flavouring
red food colouring

Put water in a saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin over and let stand for 5 minutes. Add granulated sugar and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring to dissolve gelatin and sugar. Remove from heat. Stir in icing sugar. Cool.

Prepare an 8″ square baking pan by lining pan with waxed paper and lightly grease the paper, then dust the waxed paper with powdered sugar.

When mixture is cool, beat until foamy. Add baking powder, vanilla and almond. Add food colouring to tint a pretty pink. Beat at high speed until thick enough to stand in peaks. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Cool until gloss disappears – about 3 hours.

Lift marshmallow slab out of pan by the paper edges and peel the waxed paper off the sides. Mix equal parts icing sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Carefully cut marshmallow into squares or desired shapes and toss each square in the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Place in a container, allowing each square to have some space around it so the sides will dry slightly. Dust with mixture again in the first few hours if the marshmallows start to sweat or become moist.

Flavour variations – In perusing the web, I’ve seen recipes for marshmallows with everything from bits of candy in them to ones flavoured with rose or cinnamon. In creating different flavours, try to keep your total amount of liquid flavouring to no more than 1 teaspoon, or replace some of the water in the beginning with flavouring (ie. juice, coconut milk, rosewater) or they will be too moist. Chocolate, even in cocoa powder form, contains fat and this will make the marshmallows thicker and closer to the consistency of store-bought ones.