For most of my life, marshmallows and I have not been friends. I’d make my s’mores with only chocolate chips and graham crackers, I preferred whipped cream in my hot cocoa and candied-yam casserole was not welcome on my holiday plate.
I’m not sure if it’s the spongy texture or the plain flavor, but marshmallows just never appealed to me. I was even convinced that they were a chemically engineered food, with nary an ingredient found in the natural world.
But one day I had a homemade marshmallow. And everything changed.
I had always found commercially produced marshmallows insipid, but a homemade marshmallow has depth and character, with its sweetness more robust, its texture more springy and its flavor more nuanced. Heck, the two types of marshmallows are hardly the same confection.
Now if you go to a store that sells these artisan marshmallows, you can expect to pay a lot of money. We even have one place in New York City that sells each one for four dollars. That’s ridiculous! But with a strong stand mixer and a little time, you can make your own marshmallows for a fraction of the cost.
A marshmallow’s base flavor is vanilla, which is pleasant, but I wanted to jazz mine up a bit. I threw in cinnamon and chipotle for warmth and spice and then added a bit of chocolate for its bittersweet, creamy notes. After I made my fluff, it was tempting to add it to a peanut-butter sandwich, but I decided to wait and let the marshmallows set so I could eat them as they were meant to be.
My patience definitely rewarded me as the marshmallows were fluffy with a red-hot flavor, enjoyable both on their own and dropped into a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
And perhaps its better for both my teeth and my waistline that I’ve only recently been introduced to the delight of good marshmallows, because trust me, once you start eating these you won’t want to stop.
3 .25 oz envelopes of unflavored gelatin
4 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup of corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
You’ll also need:
1 teaspoon canola oil or spray oil
A 9×9 baking pan
A stand mixer
A candy thermometer
Line your baking pan with foil and coat it with the oil.
In the bottom of your mixer, mix the gelatin with a 1/2 cup of water. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Melt the chocolate and then stir in the cocoa powder. Add to the gelatin and beat until combined.
In a large pot, mix together the sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup of water. Insert the candy thermometer and turn the heat onto medium low. Without stirring, let the syrup cook until it reaches 248 degrees.
Remove from heat and slowly add sugar syrup to the gelatin/chocolate mixture. Add the salt, cinnamon and chipotle and mix at high speed for 10 minutes or until it’s fluffy. Add the vanilla and pour marshmallow fluff into prepared pan.
Let it set for at least four hours. Remove marshmallow slab from the pan.
Dredge it in powdered sugar. With a sharp knife, cut marshmallow into squares or you can use a cookie cutter for more whimsical shapes.
Yield: 4-6 servings