Make Your Own Peppermint Marshmallows

For a few years now, we’ve hosted a few families for a night of S’mores-roasting during the holidays. It has become a tradition! And over those years, the number of children among us has grown from a handful to eighteen. Needless to say, we generally keep things as simple as possible—bags of Jet-Puffed and bars of Hershey in ample supply.

But one year—feeling ambitious—we actually made our own marshmallows—without any corn syrup! We learned that it is surprisingly easy. I had conjured up images of sugary, sticky fingers that leave their mark for days. But the mess was actually minimal. In fact, I’d love to do it again and divvy them up into bags to hand out with some hot cocoa as gifts.

Here’s how to make your own…


Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis‘s recipe to make corn-syrup free. (Most recipes call for corn syrup, but Aron found us a recipe that uses evaporated milk instead. We then added peppermint extract and swirled in just a touch of red dye—which you could skip, or do more heavily.

You’ll need: 

1/2 cup water, plus 1/4 cup
2-1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*Candy Thermometer
*Time (8-hours to overnight of resting time)

How to:

Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-by-8-inch straight-sided baking pan. Dust liberally with sifted powdered sugar and set aside. You can also use parchment to keep the marshmallow from sticking to the bottom.

Pour 1/2-cup of water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow to soften.  (Approx. 10 minutes)

In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk and 1/4 cup water.

Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook slowly, stirring it until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

Pour the syrup over the gelatin mixture and beat the mixture at low speed until it is combined. The mixture will appear light brown at this point.

Add vanilla extract.

Add peppermint extract to taste. (I noticed that the flavor is heightened a bit once they set, but in general is accurate.)

Increase the speed to high and beat until thick, fluffy and tripled in volume and the white color is achieved, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. (Note: This is the reason I wouldn’t advise doubling a recipe—your bowl won’t be able to hold it all, and you’ll stop whipping air into the mix.)

Quickly dump the mixture into your pan. If desired, add food coloring in random dots and draw the color through with a knife. Work quickly here—you only have about a minute before it is set.

Allow the mixture to fully set, uncovered, in a cool place (not refrigerated) for at least 8 hours or overnight. Dust a surface with powdered sugar and remove the marshmallows from the pan and place on the dusted surface. Using scissors, also dusted with powdered sugar, cut the marshmallows into about 1-inch squares. Dip the cut sides into powdered sugar to prevent sticking.

P.S. Make your own snow globes with the kids.

[Last photo by Thomas J. Story/Sunset Magazine]

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