I was recently asked what recipe it was that made me really love cooking. The honest answer isn’t some gourmet meal that takes hours to prepare and has ten thousand ingredients. It’s homemade marshmallows. For one thing, they are 100x better than store bought. It isn’t even a close comparison, and it made me realize that a little effort can yield amazing dividends. If you haven’t had homemade, then get on it. The other draw was the synergy of the recipe. Egg whites, sugar, gelatin, and corn syrup combine to create this delicious, spongy, sweet dessert. The end product is definitely greater than the combinations of its parts. But, ironically enough, the one thing that made me love cooking is something that I can’t eat anymore (gelatin isn’t vegetarian). Sob. I’ve been missing marshmallows like, well, I can’t think of a good metaphor. But a lot.
Then, several weeks ago, I realized that marshmallow fluff (a.k.a cream a.k.a. creme. I don’t know what the correct name is) doesn’t have gelatin in it. Woohoo! The great taste of marshmallows right in my own kitchen again! You can even take a torch to fluff if you want the taste of s’mores, though a campfire is obviously still off the table. Which is fine, because I could live happily with my fluffernutter sandwiches. You can take the girl out of Boston, but the classic New England lunchbox staple will be with me forever.
Poor Jake doesn’t really like marshmallows, so he’s just been surviving the last couple of weeks while I’ve gorged. This stuff is perfect for topping ice cream, dipping graham crackers, pretzels, and apples in, and really just eating with a spoon. Or your fingers. I’m going to put up a recipe for a dip soon, so keep an eye out!
Homemade Marshmallow Fluff
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir until the ingredients are combined. Bring to a boil and leave untouched until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks. (You want to have the egg whites whipped and ready when the syrup is ready to be drizzled in. If they’re whipping faster than your syrup is coming to temperature, just stop the mixer until the syrup is ready.)
When the syrup reaches 240°, slowly drizzle about 2 tablespoons of syrup into the egg whites to warm them. Let it combine for several seconds. (If you add too much syrup at once, the whites will scramble.) Slowly drizzle in the rest of the syrup. Increase the speed to medium high and whip until the marshmallow is stiff and glossy, about 7 minutes. Add in the vanilla and whip for 2 more minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate stored in an airtight container.
Source: Adapted very slightly from Shauna Sever