3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup (or honey or agave or golden syrup. Cheaper option: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar)
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or a vanilla bean
Powdered sugar for dredging
In the bowl of your stand mixer (you have a stand mixer, right? Because it’s gonna be bad times if you’re doing this with a hand mixer. If that’s all you got, don’t let me stop you), pour the 1/2 cup of cold water and sprinkle the 3 envelopes of gelatin over it. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup (or cream of tartar or agave, whatever. The point of these is to keep the sugar from crystallizing.), and 1/4 cup of water in a heavy saucepan. Feel free to use the vanilla bean here. Split and scrape the contents of a vanilla bean into your sugar. If your beans are dry and brittle, just throw the whole thing in there and let it cook. Turn heat on high and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved STOP STIRRING and let it boil hard for 1 minute. You’re making a sugar syrup to about soft ball stage (about 240F). If you used the whole vanilla bean, fish it out (NOT WITH YOUR FINGERS, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD). Pour boiling syrup into gelatin, add salt, and using the whisk attachment whisk at high speed (start slow, hot liquid sugar is tasty napalm) for 6-12 minutes. While it’s mixing, it will go from “geez, this is just hot sugar, how is this gonna be soft fluffy marshmallows?” to “Hey! That looks like fluff!” You’ll know. If using vanilla extract, add it close to the end of mixing.
While the syrup is doing it’s thing in the mixer, prepare your pans. I like to use a 1/4 sheet pan. You can use a 9×9 or 8×8 square. Whatever works for you. Line your pans with oiled plastic wrap for easier clean up later, or just heavily oil the pan. This is important. Marshmallows. They’re sticky. So sticky. You can also spread a thick layer of powdered sugar in the pan. I mean, really, you want to do everything you can to not let the fluff stick. When the syrup has become fluff, oil a spatula and scrape the newly formed fluff into your pans. At this point, you will realize there’s not enough oil in the universe to keep you from making a sticky mess. This is why we have soap and hot water. Embrace it. Spread the fluff around as best you can to make it even. Realize you should give up the spatula and just oil your hands (water works too) and spread it as evenly as you can. Sift powdered sugar on top. Light coating.
Let the pans sit for a few hours. Yes. Hours. 4 at a minimum. If you just can’t wait, you have marshmallow fluff. If you CAN wait, you have solid marshmallows.
Remove your solid brick of marshmallow from the pan and place on a powdered sugar dusted cutting board. Cut. Squares? Sure. Use a oiled chef knife, scissors (really), or my favorite: pizza cutter. You can also use cookie cutters to make shapes. Itty bitty ones for itty bitty cocoa cup marshmallows. Big ones for just eating. Either way, cut them, dredge them in powdered sugar then store in an airtight container (Gallon ziploc bags are FANTASTIC).
Chocolate: Add a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder to the saucepan when you make the syrup.
Strawberry: Puree strawberries to get 1/2 cup. Add it to the cold water in the mixing bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top.
Coffee: Brew some strong coffee and use that to bloom the gelatin.
Peppermint: Use mint flavoring instead of vanilla. You can also use crushed hard candies, but I find that they melt a bit and make the marshmallows wet as they sit.
Chocolate Chip: add some (no idea how much) mini chocolate chips to the fluff. You can gently fold them in or whisk them in for about 5 seconds at the end. The fluff is still warm and they will melt a bit, creating cool looking swirls.
Chai: brew some strong Chai. Let it cool. Use this instead of the 1/2 cup of water to bloom the gelatin.
Caramel/Dulce de Leche/Cajeta: Get fancy. Swirl some caramel in your batch. Either in the bowl (slowly) or in the pan. This has never worked for me. I suck at swirling.
The possibilities are wide open. If you want a liquid (I’ve done Bailey’s and bourbon) add it to the bowl with the gelatin. If it’s a candy, add it at the end. If it’s a powder, probably best to add it to the syrup while it’s cooking.
Have fun, be careful. Sugar syrup is NAPALM.