Marshmallows are a surprisingly simple to make, and a nice break from traditional winter baking. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Marshmallows are a surprisingly simple to make, and a nice break from traditional winter baking. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Marshmallows mellow baking blues

Marshmallows take the drudgery out of kitchen woes, writes columnist and amateur cook Grace Kennedy

It’s been three weeks of baking.

It started with the banana bread. Then it was my sister’s pumpkin pie and ginger cookies. Then, more banana bread and my Grandma’s secret cookie recipe. And some gingerbread and apple pie baked by my boyfriend’s mother.

Shortbread. Mincemeat tarts. Sugar cookies. Fruitcake. Rum balls. The list goes on, and yet it all feels the same. A tired, yet delicious, holiday tradition.

That doesn’t stop the desire to be in the kitchen during the winter — at least, not for me. I’ve always felt my inner Martha Stewart shine during December and January. But the abundance of baked goods does create a need for creativity. Something different. Unusual, yet familiar. Striking, and perhaps somewhat ludicrous.

Homemade marshmallows.

Full disclosure: I made my marshmallows in the two weeks before Christmas. But while I had to fit my airy dessert between coconut raisin cookies and gingerbread, I imagine it is best when you can give them the primacy they deserve.

It starts, as it often does, with a ton of sugar. Or, more accurately and less often, 450 grams of sugar, a third of a cup of corn syrup and half a cup of warm water.

The idea is to boil the sugar until it starts to become firm — something you won’t notice until the sugar itself has cooled. When the sugar reaches the firm-boil stage, you should be able to mold it with your fingers, while still having it retain its shape.

In a world without candy thermometers, this is tested by dropping small amounts of the boiling syrup into cold water. If it dissolves, it’s not ready. If you can squish it, it’s not ready. If you can’t mold it at all, you overdid it.

In a world with candy thermometers, where I was lucky enough to spend my time, you simply have to wait for the temperature to reach 245 degrees.

However, a marshmallow is not simply sugar. To achieve the delectable texture of a lighter-than-air dessert, you need gelatin — a gelling agent that comes from the skin, tendons, ligaments and bones of animals.

(It is possible to make homemade gelatin, as I discovered when trying to make stock from turkey bones, but that is not recommended for this dish.)

Mixing the gelatin and the sugar syrup is a delicate game, one where the heat must be mastered and constant motion maintained. This is best achieved by using a stand-mixer, and having the syrup run down the side of the bowl before reaching the gelatin.

The following parts are simple, and therefore the most fun: mixing the concoction until it triples in size, applying liberal amounts of butter to the pan that will hold the marshmallows, letting it set for six hours, then cutting it into small squares.

The best part is the end, holding a tin of homemade marshmallows that have the same taste and consistency of store-bought ones.

The only difference between the two is that although few people would reach into a bag of Jet-Puffed and bite into a marshmallow, you can guarantee that if you offer one you made, everyone will be eating them.

Cloverdalecooking

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

The cover of Golf 101 with Bob Dimpleton (left), an instructional book created by South Surrey golf pro Mark Kuhn (inset). Right, a page from the book detailing what to do if your ball lands on the cart path. (Contributed images)
South Surrey golf pro releases new edition of popular instructional book

Mark Kuhn’s Dimpleton family returns in updated Golf 101 e-book

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

Surrey RCMP Constable Mike Della-Paolera as seen in a cut-out used for the detachment’s Operation Double Take program. (File photo)
Surrey’s tall ‘Operation Double Take’ cop is on the move

Cut-out of Constable Mike Della-Paolera used in program to curb speeding and dangerous driving

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Delta Police dog retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Most Read