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Thursday
Nov082012

Maple Syrup-Sweetened Marshmallows

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Looking for a Pinterest board dedicated solely to Gluten-Free Goodies? Look no further. Check this one out and begin following along. Just click the badge below.

A few weeks back I tempted you with some cane sugar-free, corn syrup-free, egg-free marshmallows. I promised the recipe, and it's finally ready. We've had some medical stuff to deal with and so I thank you— you've been incredibly patient.

Mad Science in the Kitchen

These past weeks in my mad marshmallow experimentation I have learned that you cannot substitute agar agar for gelatin when making these marshmallows. I have learned that the type of sweetener used can make a difference. Believe it or not, marshmallows have a preference for sucrose over glucose. And, I have learned that as temperamental as they can be, marshmallows are pretty easy to make! I feel I have a lot more to learn and so I will continue my education in the field of Marshmallow Science. I wonder if Alton Brown would want to come over and play? Alton? 


The Sweeteners

I tested a slew of sweeteners ... and here's how they fared.

HONEY
First up were honey-sweetened marshmallows using this recipe from Z's Cup of Tea. Its a goody! An intense "honey" experience, fur shure. Oh and if honey is your thing, Kelly over at The Spunky Coconut has a great recipe for Honey Marshmallow Fluff in her Dairy-Free Ice Cream cookbook.

COCONUT NECTAR
Next up, coconut nectar—that insanely expensive, lower-glycemic, caramel undertoned sweetener that I love atop my almond milk frappucino. Well, the jury is still out on this one. This batch bound up on me to the point I couldn't even scoop it out of the bowl! I plan to try coconut nectar again to ensure it wasn't an error on my part, but after my initial "fail" I moved on to ...

GLUTEN-FREE BROWN RICE SYRUP
These marshmallows (pictured in the tutorial below) turned out nicely—not as fluffy as the maple syrup version (I used a smaller measure of water), but more on the soft and tender side. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the brown rice syrup aftertaste. That said, I might make these again, but I'd likely flavor them with a fairly strong extract (peppermint was great) to mask the brown rice syrup aftertaste. But really, I thought they were the bomb until I tried ...

MAPLE SYRUP
YES! These were the ticket! Tonight, as we finished off a batch of Maple Marshmallows, my son said "Mom, these are the best ones so far," and I had to agree. These marshmallows were fluffy and on the stiffer side. 

Three Tips

Before we dive into the recipe, I am going to to give you three pointers.

FIRST: 235-245˚F is what we call the soft-ball candy stage. I found that it's best to remove the boiling sweetener from heat the instant it hits the 235˚F mark and certainly before the 245˚F mark. A syrup hotter than 245˚F may cause the marshmallows to flop.

SECOND: Do not over beat. Beating and beating and beating in hopes of creating a mile high pile of fluff seems to cause the mixture to cool to the point that it begins to set. This may not be the case for all marshmallow recipes ... but seems to be for this one.

Beat just to the point when the mixture turns white, thickens up, and gently falls in ribbons (versus thin stream) from the beaters. Beat much longer—to soft peaks or when you feel the mixture pull at or climb up the beaters—and the mixture will begin to set and will be nearly impossible to spread (but not to worry, they'll still be good to eat!).

THIRD: No two batches of marshmallows have turned out exactly the same for me. So just roll with it and enjoy the fruits (however they turn out) of your labor!

Maple Syrup Sweetened Marshmallows

Ingredients:

1/3 cup, plus more as needed, ARROWROOT STARCH, potato or corn starch
1/2 cup cold WATER
2 teaspoons pure gluten-free VANILLA EXTRACT
1/4 teaspoon fine SALT
2-1/2 tablespoon unflavored powdered GELATIN
1 cup pure MAPLE SYRUP
1/8 teaspoon CREAM OF TARTAR (recommended but not necessary)

Directions:

  1. Lightly coat an 8x8" square pan with oil. Generously dust sides and bottom with starch. Set aside.
  2. Add water, vanilla, and salt to a deep, wide mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly sprinkle gelatin over surface of liquids to bloom. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan slowly bring maple syrup and cream of tartar (if using) to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil, slowly increasing temperature to medium-high until a digital or candy thermometer registers the syrup at the low end of the soft ball candy stage—235˚F. Immediately remove from heat!
  4. Working quickly and carefully, slowly beat hot syrup into bloomed gelatin using a handheld or stand mixer. I have a handheld and do this in the sink in case of splatters.
  5. Beat until the mixture thickens, turns white, and gently falls in ribbons when the beaters are lifted from the bowl—about 5-6 minutes. 
  6. Pour mixture into the prepared 8x8-inch pan. Quickly smooth top with oiled rubber spatula or fingers.
  7. Dust surface with additional starch and let set 2-3 hours at room temperature or until firm to touch.
  8. Unmold from pan onto a starch-dusted surface and slice into desired sized cubes (large or mini) with a sharp starch-dusted knife.
  9. Dust marshmallows in starch as needed to prevent sticking.
  10. Store in air-tight container at room temp for up to one week or freeze.

Notes & More Helpful Hints:

Like 'em Super Firm:  If you like firm and structured marshmallows (like Kraft Jet-Puffed), add an extra 1/2 tablespoon gelatin, bringing the measure up to 3 tablespoons.

And I Bet You're Wondering... : Yeah, no, these beauties do not perform fireside or atop a sweet potato casserole. They don't "toast," they melt. But that's okay by me, I am just glad to know that I can make these fluffy treats for my kids to enjoy as is or floating in a mug of hot cocoa.

The Mixer: Gasp! I don't have a stand mixer, and sure wouldn't refuse one (hint, hint KitchenAid, this one would be sweet!). For those of you who do, I'd love your report. Did your marshmallows turn out insanely fluffy?

For Mini Marshmallows: Spread the whipped mixture in a slightly larger pan to achieve a height of about 1/2 inch.

Flavors: For chocolate marshmallows, add 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder in the last minute of beating. For peppermint marshmallows, add 1/8 teaspoon (or to taste) of peppermint extract. For an extra vanilla kick, add a couple teaspoons of this powder (does contain a small amout of cane sugar) to the your final dusting starch. Mmmmmm. Still dreaming up more!

Reader Comments (28)

I cannot wait to make these! I've been wanting to make homemade marshmallows again and I love the idea of using maple syrup...it's one of my fave ingredients in baking :) Oh, and you NEED to get a Kitchenaid mixer! Honestly. It will change you're life!

November 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Oh Sarah ... I just may have to break down and get one. But where will it go on my counter? The juicer the processor, the pressure cooker ... I think I just need a whole new kitchen!! This will be an expensive mixer : ) ... Did you get my email BTW? xoLexie

November 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

Oooh the possibilities I am imagining... I LOVE maple syrup!

November 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCara

Hi Lexie, we have been waiting for this post; we'll try it and see just how fab! Nice pic and presentation of the idea! XXOO

November 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPoha

Gorgeous and yummy homemade marshmallows, Lexie! I used to wonder why people would even consider making their own marshmallows ... then I started reading labels. Ugh. So nice to have a healthier recipe!

xo,
Shirley

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShirley @ gfe

Hiya Lexie,

What happened when you used agar agar? I'm really curious, as I have a vegetarian friend that I'd really like to make marshmallows for that we could both enjoy.

These do look heavenly, however... and just in time for hot cocoa season!

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMorri

You worked so hard, thanks for the great recipe and all the great info. I always feel so guilty when I give my kids store-bought marshmallows, I know they are SUPER unhealthy! Thanks again!

Morri ... I got a custard like thing : ) You could check out this book:

http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Seaweed-Cookbook-Discovering/dp/1556436521

There is a recipe for agar (vegan) marshmallows. I have not tried it but have been real curious. Just an option.

xoLexie

November 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

Thank you Poha. I know YOU will let me know how they turn out for you. xoLex

November 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

These photos make me want to just jump into some sort of fairy land and drown myself in a magical sea of confections! Love it!

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHallie @ Daily Bites

Holy moly, these are little heavenly pillows Lex! You amaze me, seriously.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlisa

WOW! These look amazing! Can't wait to try them! Thanks for sharing :)

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAli Morris

These are beautiful Lexie! I think my kidlets would love to make their own marshmallows! Right now I treat them to marshmallows in their hot chocolate. This recipe would make me feel MUCH better about that.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie

These look pretty incredible!

November 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercheryl

This is a dangerous recipe to have for sure! I'm glad the winner ended up being maple syrup. It has such a great flavor, even if it's not the cheapest...

Thank you so much for this recipe! It really takes an entire cup of maple syrup (sounds really sweet!)? Of course, I've only ever made the regular kind of marshmallows, so this is completely new for me. Can I use vanilla paste instead of extract? I've made all kinds of marshmallows: raspberry, vanilla, peppermint, chocolate, toasted coconut, cinnamon-nutmeg...
Thanks again Lexi!

November 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

All I can say is that you are AMAZING!!!! This is incredible! The photos, the steps, the tips... You are so talented. Seriously.
I am thinking that this will be a holiday project with the boys for sure!
And PS... I am so hoping that KitchenAid gets your hint!! You so need one of those babies!
XOXOX

November 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim-Cook It Allergy Free

I saw that you think substituting agar agar will not suffice in this recipe. Can you explain why? My sister is vegan and I have been searching high and low for a vegan marshmallow recipe to try making for her. She also prefers gluten free (though it's not a necessity), and your recipe looks like it might work for us...except the use of gelatin. Any suggestions?

December 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

Jenna, all I can say is that the agar batch turned to goo. I got a custard-like thing : ) You could check out this book:

http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Seaweed-Cookbook-Discovering/dp/1556436521

There is a recipe for agar (vegan) marshmallows. I have not tried it but have been real curious. Just an option.

xoLexie

December 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

Lexie, this is the first time I've seen your post. Love your marshmallow photos, especially the step-by-step ones! I've wanted to make marshmallows with maple syrup for a long time, but just haven't done it yet. Also thank you so much for trying my recipe - did you add vanilla extract as well? I've noticed that it usually offsets the strong honey flavour.

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZoe

Hi Lexie, I made these using honey and no cream of tartar and I used my Kitchen Aid mixer; they came up amazingly fluffy and thick (I put them on parchment paper on cookie sheets, cut them out and let them dry for 12 hours). My daughters' classes LOVED them and the adults prefer them!!

Thanks for the recipes!

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTammy

Tammy, thanks for sharing your success!! I just got a hand-me-down kitchen aid .... you've inspired me to ditch the hand-held and break the kitchen aid out :) xoLexie

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Do you think tapioca starch would work as a substitute for the arrowroot, potato, or corn starch?

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne H

Hi Suzanne ... absolutely! :)

June 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterLexie

Hi Lexie - I tried these last night, and they seemingly worked beautifully. Nice, firm marshmallows. I let them cool completely, coated them generously with powdered maple sugar (alternative to cornstarch, the only deviation I made to the recipe), and packaged them individually in cello wrappers sealed with a crimper. This evening, 24 hours later, I checked them and they were basically a gooey mess in their wrappers. Though still firm and spongy, a significant amount of what looks like maple syrup had precipitated out of the marshmallows. Using corn starch instead of sugar for dusting I think would not have made a difference, as there was at least a teaspoon of extra liquid in each wrapper beyond the wet marshmallows. They were completely cool when packaged. So, I'm not sure what happened, but I was looking for a recipe stable enough for individual (i.e. cottage food) production for sale. Any ideas here?

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

Lazarus, eeks, that is not good. Let me give some thought to it. So they were still firm and spongy in the bag. Was the maple sugar still powdery on the parts of the marshmallow that weren't gooey or was the entire surface of the marshmallows wettish? I would have to try the recipe again and dust in a starch or a starch/sugar mixture to figure it out. I really feel the powdered maple sugar could have caused the weeping. I may give the recipe a go this week just to be certain. xoLexie

UPDATE: Lazarus, I just talked with one of my home economist friends and we agree that the sugar (in the sealed environment), must have pulled moisture from the marshmallows. I hope the helps. :)

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

These marshmallows look divine, Lexie! Was wondering about the chocolate topping on the marshmallows in the picture. Was this just melted chocolate drizzled over the marshmallows or is there a special recipe for the chocolate topping? Many thanks!

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTasha

Hi Tasha,

Ha! So the chocolate topping is simply melted chocolate. I use enjoy life chocolate chips. For a slightly softer chocolate you can add a bit of coconut oil when melting—but usually I just melt the chips over low heat and pour on the marshmallows.

xoLexie

February 17, 2014 | Registered CommenterLexie

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