Homemade marshmallows can be an intimidating feat! If you’ve ever tried them and failed as I have, you can bet it is probably not the recipe that is presenting the problem. In a perfect world marshmallows should be light, airy and fluffy! But all too often, after all
our efforts we are left with either a sticky mess that never sets up or a dense spongy, chewy block that sets too quickly.
Don’t let these issues put you off homemade marshmallows for life!
With a little preparation and practice they can be very rewarding and even….”maybe” a little healthier than the corn syrup laden ones you can buy at the store. This recipe has half the sugar of the average marshmallow and can be made with honey or maple syrup. The honey brings a lovely and unique flavor while the maple syrup makes a more neutral tasting and lovely marshmallow. Some marshmallows contain egg whites while others do not. This egg free version is perfect for those with egg allergies or for those who just want a simpler recipe. Both are delightful though.
So in order to help you along your marshmallow journey….here is a compiled list of things that I have had to troubleshoot over the years. Preparation is the best way to set yourself up for success! Once you get the process down, get cozy with your thermometer and a feel for your mixer, you will enjoy these lovely treats for a long time to come.
First order of business…. thermometers:
1. Be sure to test your thermometer for accuracy. Thermometers can easily get off by getting bumped, dropped or just with regular use. Some can be calibrated, some can not. This is the case with both regular and digital thermometers.
2. Most thermometers have an optimal “fill” line, telling how much liquid you need for them to read most optimally. If your pot is too large, you may not get an actuate reading. Most often this reading is off in the direction of displaying a cooler temperature than there actually is. Conversely letting the actual bulb part of thermometer touch the bottom or sides of the pan cam also result in inaccurate readings, usually showing the syrup as hotter than it actually is. If needed, you can carefully tilt the pan for a moment so the thermometer tip is fully submerged. This can help you get a better reading.
1. Soft or Soggy, lacks volume
If the marshmallows are too soft, soggy, wet or lack volume after setting for 4 hours or so, your sugar syrup may not have gotten hot enough OR you did not whip them long enough. Whipping times will vary quite a bit depending on your mixer. However you can not whip an undercooked sugar syrup enough to make it fluffy. Also, a very wet, humid day can make it hard for marshmallows set.
2. Clumpy, Seized, Stiff, Un-spreadable, Lacks Volume
If the marshmallows set too fast or you can’t spread the cream without it clumping up, or if they are dense and lack volume….your sugar syrup may have been too hot. It is also possible that just added the sugar syrup too quickly. First check to be sure that your thermometer is reading correctly. But remember, even if your thermometer is set correctly, thermometers can still give inconsistent readings if the ingredients don’t go up to the fill line.
3. Wet and Sticky Once Cooled
If the marshmallows are wet on the bottom or the on the top after setting the full four hours, then the cream was probably too hot when transferred to the pan. Also, your liquid measurements may have been off. Try a little sprinkled starch to help reduce the stickiness. Also possible….humidity just wasn’t your friend today.
4. Gelatin Clumps in The Marshmallows
If there were gelatin clumps and hard bits in the marshmallows, then the gelatin was not fully dissolved by the sugar syrup. Be sure to let the syrup melt the gelatin in the early mixing process. If needed you can stop and stir the sugar syrup once the gelatin is added.
5. How to Check Your Thermometer For Accuracy
You can test your thermometer for accuracy by placing the tip in a pot of boiling water. If you are at sea level it should read 212 degrees F or 100 degrees C. I usually let it stand in the boiling for 5-10 minutes to give the thermometer time to catch up. Some are slower than others.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Great candy making skills take time and practice. Just be patient and don’t expect perfection every-time. There is no such thing as a FAIL-PROOF candy recipe.
ROASTING: For best results, I use a kitchen torch for roasting the marshmallows. If using over a fire, I like to let them dry out some once the mallows have been cut. Dusting with powdered sugar or arrowroot starch will also give you the best results for roasting. If using a camp fire, stick the mallows in the hottest part of the fire so that you can roast for a shorter time than “Jet Puff” style marshmallows.
STORING: I don’t keep mine longer than 3-5 days in the fridge, but they do freeze very well, and can be kept for longer periods of time. Just bring to room temp before using.