Decorating homemade marshmallows is a fun birthday party activity, and party guests can take home small cellophane bags of their miniature masterpieces as favors, and as an edible reminder of their artistic and creative skill. You can leave the marshmallows their natural creamy color, or tint them pale lavender, pink, green, turquoise, or yellow, before cutting them into squares and dolling them up.
- 1 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons unflavored granulated gelatin
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Cornstarch for dusting
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Confectionery coating (sometimes called “summer coating” or “wafer chocolate”)
- sprinkles in various colors
- sanding sugar
- royal icing
- royal icing googly eyes
- mini chocolate chips
- mini candies (see sources) for decorating
1 Spray a 9-by-9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and generously dust with cornstarch. Set aside.
2 Pour 1/2 cup of the cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water and allow the gelatin to sit and absorb the water, about 45 minutes.
3 In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water with the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and let the mixture come to a boil. Cook the syrup, without stirring, until it reaches 240F on a candy thermometer. Do not allow the syrup to go past 244F or the marshmallows will be rubbery rather than tender. Remove the syrup from the heat and slowly beat it into the dissolved gelatin, using the whisk attachment of the mixer, set at low speed. After the syrup is added, increase the mixer speed to high and continue beating until the mixture is very thick and white but still warm, about 15 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
4 Pour the marshmallow mixture onto the prepared pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and dust liberally with confectioners’ sugar. Let the marshmallow stand, uncovered, for 8 to 12 hours to firm up and "cure." Turn the marshmallow from the pan and brush off all the residual cornstarch. Place the marshmallow slab on a sheet of parchment paper dusted lightly with confectioners’ sugar.
5 Using a long, sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the slab of marshmallow into 5 even strips. Cut each strip into 5 square marshmallows. Roll each marshmallow in confectioners’ sugar to coat the sticky edges. Shake, or brush off, any excess sugar. Store the marshmallows in a tightly covered container until ready to use.
6 When ready to decorate, set out small bowls filled with whatever variety of sanding sugar, sprinkles, jimmies, small candies, mini chocolate chips, royal icing flowers, or googly eyes you desire.
7 To melt the confectionery coating, place about 2 cups of the wafers in a single layer on a microwave-safe dinner plate. Microwave at half-power for 1 minute. When properly heated the wafers will not lose their shape, but will look soft and shiny, and must be stirred smooth. Be careful not to overheat the coating, as it may “seize,” which means it will thicken and turn hard and crumbly and you will not be able to remelt it.
8 Using a rubber spatula,_ transfer the melted confectionery coating to a small bowl for dipping and drizzling. To custom-color white confectionery coating, be sure to use a concentrated oil-based food coloring made specifically for candy making (available at craft, candy-making, and cake-decorating stores).
9 Drizzle and dip the marshmallows in a variety of colorful confectionery coatings, and while still wet, sprinkle with sugars and sprinkles to decorate. Place the decorated marshmallows on a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper and allow to dry—this should only take a few minutes. When set, the marshmallows can also be brushed with Luster Dust to make them glitter; use a new (unused) small paintbrush to lightly dust the coated marshmallows with gold, silver, or other shimmering colors. The marshmallows can be eaten or packed in small boxes or bags for later consumption. Although they will last awhile, homemade marshmallows taste their best when eaten within 2 or 3 days.
Note: A stand mixer like a KitchenAid is really a necessity when making these marshmallows. They require a lot of heavy-duty beating!
Makes 25 marshmallows.
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Excerpted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids by Jill O'Connor. Photographs by Leigh Beisch. Copyright © 2009 by Leigh Beisch. Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.