I first learned how to make marshmallows when at Le Cordon Bleu, and I have a few fond memories of the experience. The first, was that I couldn’t believe how easy they were to make. I mean, I thought there had to be some sort of magic involved in making such delicate little confections. I had heard for years of the challenges of making soufflés (all lies I tell you, they are really easy), and I guess I thought that making similarly light and airy “candy” would prove equally difficult. Nope.
The second thing I remember about making them in France was how funny it sounded to hear the chef talk about them. The French term for marshmallow is Guimauve, which itself is nothing to laugh at, in fact, I find it a rather sexy word to say.
Go ahead, try it yourself….Guimauve….see what I mean?
What was funny was the way chef kept referring to them as “chammalows”…(snort, giggle, snicker). It was all us english speakers could do to keep from laughing out loud. We were convinced that our chef was trying to pronounce marshmallow, but somehow had it cocked around to sound like chammalow. “Poor little silly Frenchman….if only he could hear how funny he sounds”.
It was a good thing we didn’t laugh out loud, because it turned out the joke was on us. “Chammalow” is actually a brand-name marshmallow sold in France by Haribo, one of the world’s largest candy and snack makers. We have our “Jet- Puffed”, and the French have their “Chammalows”. I have to say that thinking back on it now, I like their branding better. To me, the name “Chammalow” sounds natural, and soft, and sweet, whereas “Jet-Puffed” sounds like a candy that has been violently modified, or perhaps a clever name used to refer to a certain cosmetic procedure on “Nip-Tuck”…..you know the one.
Soft and natural and sweet for me, thank you very much.
Regardless of what you call them, marshmallows are a breeze to make, and your kids will have a blast helping you. Boris and Peyton both rolled up their sleeves and eagerly joined in the fun of making these treats. I reserved only the hot sugar work for myself, everything else was handled by my very talented sous-chefs. Enjoy!
- 3 - 1/4 ounce envelopes of gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- cocoa powder to taste (optional)
- Sift together confectioner's sugar and cornstarch (adding 1/4 cup cocoa powder if you'd like to make chocolate flavored marshmallows like we did) in a large bowl and set aside. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Add a little of the sugar and cornstarch mixture and shake around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use. Sprinkle three 1/4-ounce envelopes of gelatin over 3/4 cup water in the mixing bowl of a standing mixer, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Stir the 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup of the light corn syrup, and the remaining 3/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. With the aid of a candy thermometer, let the mixture boil undisturbed until the temperature reaches 240 ℉, about 8-10 minutes, maybe longer.
- Once the mixture gets to 240 ℉, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup light corn syrup. Adding the extra corn syrup now will stop the mix from continuing to cook to the "crack" stage which would ruin the final texture of your marshmallows. Quel dommage! Turn your standing mixer to medium-high, then add the hot sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream along the edge of the bowl (see photo below). Once it has all been added, let the mixer keep beating for about 10 minutes or more. You want the mixture in the bowl to turn a bright white and triple in volume.
- When you've accomplished this, beat in 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, then pour the whole beautiful mess into that prepared 9 x 13-inch pan. Smooth the top with an off-set icing spatula or a wide knife, dipped occasionally in water. Dust the top with lots of the confectioners' sugar mix. Set aside to firm up, about 3-4 hours. Now comes the really fun part, the part where the kids can totally trash your kitchen in a matter of seconds if you're not keeping an eye on them. Dust a large cutting board (or your clean counter-top) with a nice thick layer of confectioners' sugar mix. Gently turn the pan out onto it. You might have to tap and rap and pull at the corners of the marshmallow "cake" it for it to come free. Then dust the whole thing with more confectioners' sugar. You see where the unsupervised kitchen catastrophe is lurking here, don't you?
- Cut the marshmallow "cake" into bite-sized 1" squares using a pizza cutter wheel, dusted with a little confectioner's sugar if needed. Toss the cut pieces into the bowl of sugar/cornstarch/cocoa (add more if you need) and toss to coat. Gently slosh the marshmallows around in a seive to shake any extra sugar loose, and store in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. Serve with hot cocoa, s'mores, or eat them right out of the box all by themselves!