24 August 2009

Culinary Napalm

Sugar water...boiling sugar water. Hot stuff. As I've heard Alton Brown affectionately refer to it a few times in the past, 'culinary napalm.' Yes, I imagine if this boiling concoction made contact with the skin at 240 degrees it wouldn't be a pleasant experience; but oh, the wonderful things that can be created with it. My favorite iteration, marshmallows.

Ever since I saw the Good Eats episode Puff the Magic Mallow, I have been making my own marshmallows. Let me tell you, the home-made version is light years ahead of the store-bought varieties. There is a certain softness, lightness, and smoothness that isn't there in the mass produced version; plus, there is no chemically after taste. Bonus! The process couldn't be simpler; and if you plan ahead, there is no reason to buy marshmallows ever again.

Here's how to make them:

Homemade MarshmallowsRecipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture.

Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.

Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks

There you have it. Couldn't be simpler, really, and it's a lot of fun, too! The marshmallows are perfect for roasting over a campfire, for use in rice crispy treats, or for just eating all by themselves. Plus, there is the satisfaction of a job well done, and knowing exactly what ingredients went into the delicate little wonders.


  1. OMG Who figures these things out? I've never heard of making your own marshmallows.
    How cool.

  2. Yesss! These are by far the best marshmallows I have ever tasted. I didn't know they could be this tasty or that much fun to watch you prepare!



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