Vanilla Marshmallows

The difference between these delicate little beauties and the apocalypse-proof cylinders you get at the supermarket is astounding, and so worth the effort. We like this recipe, which we adapted from one generously given to us by our friend Mark of the (literally) mom-and-pop Brooklyn bakery Whimsy & Spice, because it has a perfect marshmallow consistency—fluffy without being too chewy, soft and plush, perfectly light and airy. The flavour depends on the vanilla: the better quality you use, the tastier the marshies will be.

This recipe makes a generous layer of marshmallow, and you can cut it in whatever size or shape you desire—or use cookie cutters to make them extra kiddie-friendly. Feel free to snip up any scraps to throw into a batch of Rocky Road ice cream or Bark, scatter on top of an ice cream sundae, or toast up for a s’more so good you’ll want to cuddle up to it and name it Shnookums.

  • Vanilla Marshmallows
    • Small (9″ x 13″) rimmed baking sheet
    • Stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment
    • Heatproof spatula
    • Candy thermometer
    • Large cutting board, lined with parchment paper

    Makes about 95 one-inch pieces

    • ½ cup cornstarch
    • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
    • Cooking spray
    • 1¼ cups (300 g) cold water, divided into ¾ cup (175 g) and ½ cup (125 g)
    • 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (about 1 ounce/32 g) unflavoured powdered gelatin
    • 2¾ cups (550 g) granulated sugar
    • ¾ cup (255 g) light corn syrup
    • 1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out, pod reserved; or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
    1. Sift together the cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar into a medium-size bowl.
    2. Generously coat the sides and bottom of the baking sheet with cooking spray, and dust it well with about ¼ cup of the cornstarch mixture, tapping out any excess. Set it aside.
    3. Place ¾ cup of the cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it, and stir. Set it aside to soften, at least 5 minutes.
    4. Place the remaining ½ cup water, the sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla bean and seeds (if using) in a medium-size (4-quart) saucepan, and stir with the heatproof spatula to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, without stirring, over medium-high heat. Then insert the candy thermometer and cook, uncovered, until it reaches 240°F/116°C (firm-to-hard ball stage), about 10 minutes.
    5. Place the egg whites in the mixer bowl and beat at medium speed until they hold soft peaks, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn the speed down to low; proceed to the next step.
    6. Once the syrup reaches 250°F/121°C (firm-to-hard ball stage), remove it from the heat and use a slotted spoon to fish out the vanilla bean. Pour the hot syrup into the bowl containing the egg whites, pouring down the side of the bowl. Add the softened gelatin and turn the speed up to high, beating until the mixture is white, thick, and almost tripled in volume; about 6 minutes for a stand mixer or 10 to 12 minutes with a hand-held mixer.
    7. If using the vanilla extract, add it, and beat until just combined. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and sift approximately ¼ cup of the sugar-cornstarch mixture evenly over the top. Let it set up for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight.
    8. Run the tip of a paring knife around the edges of the baking sheet and invert it over the lined cutting board. Lift a corner of the pan and loosen the marshmallow slab carefully with your fingers. Once the slab is on the cutting board, generously coat a sharp chef’s knife with cooking spray and cut it into 1-inch pieces.
    9. Sift the remaining ½ cup of the cornstarch mixture into a medium-size bowl and gently toss each marshmallow in the mixture to coat. Shake off the excess and start eatin’!

    Store the marshmallows, layered with wax paper, in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Note: If you prefer shaped marshies, oil the business end of some cookie cutters and go to town.


    Want to pipe some marshmallow chicks? Go right on ahead—just make sure to count on some mutants in the first few tries. We also recommend cooking the syrup 5°F (2° to 3°C) higher than listed in the recipe, and making sure it’s quite cool before you start piping (otherwise the little peepers won’t hold their shape). Definitely check out Prepping a Piping Bag on page 45, too. And here are a few more chickalicious* pointers:

    • Chill; don’t overfill. Only fill the piping bag about two-thirds full; you want to make sure you leave yourself enough room to twist off the top. Otherwise marshmallow gets everywhere. And we mean EVERYWHERE.

    • Reinforcements! Wrap a piece of duct or packing tape around the end of the bag before you fill and trim it; marshmallow is very stiff and this helps reduce the possibility of seams splitting.

    • Remember the number 2. That’s the general shape you’re making, though you’ll want to do it in two swipes: First, pipe a generous blob of mallow, then draw it toward you to make an inverted tear-drop shape. Then pipe another blob on top of that; ease off your pressure on the bag as you draw it up and toward the round end of the tear-drop. If the marshmallow is stiff and cool enough, it should resemble a little chick. Or at least resemble a mass-market abstraction of a little chick. Good luck! And don’t take it too seriously—it’s just marshmallow. *We mean that in the “chicken” way. Dudes are also encouraged to use these tips.

    LIZ SAYS: Don’t toss that empty vanilla bean! When you’re finished making the marshmallows, rinse it off, let it dry, and tuck it into a jar of sugar to give it a sweet, vanilla-y scent.


    The versatility of this recipe is part of the fun! You can flavour the marshmallows pretty much however you’d like: Simply replace the vanilla bean in step 4 (or the extract in step 7). Some of our favourite variations include chocolate malted (1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon malted milk powder), passion fruit (2 tablespoons passion fruit pulp/puree; see page 65), and cool mint (2 teaspoons peppermint oil; see the Note on page 84).

    JEN SAYS: These are also delicious dipped in chocolate: Temper 8 cups chopped dark chocolate (about 3 pounds/1.35 kg) following the directions on page 26, or use 8 cups chopped dark chocolate (about 3 pounds/1.35 kg) and 1⅓ cups (300 g) mild vegetable oil to make the Cheater’s Chocolate Coating on page 32. Dip the marshmallows in the prepared chocolate using the Fork Dipping technique on page 33.

    Extracted from The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook by Liz Gutman and Jen King (£13.99, Workman). Copyright © 2012. Photographs by Rachel Been.