Recipe Test: Candy-Cane Marshmallows

My favorite hand-made gift for local friends is a gift of food.  All through the year I'm on the look out for appropriate recipes.  I'm looking for food that can be made ahead and frozen.  I like food that can be made in small quantities and wrapped up pretty for Christmas.  So when I saw this recipe on the Martha Stewart website, it looked like a winner.  Imagine these sweet little marshmallows in Christmas cellophane packaging with a red bow, gifted along with some hot chocolate mix.  Better yet, look at the image on the website.  Pretty, huh?

Today I experimented with the recipe.  I've made homemade marshmallows before with limited success.  Although they turned out as expected, I've found their texture to be rubbery and their flavor to be off.  Of the recipes I've tried, these turned out the best.  I took the time to read all of the comments associated with the recipe, and I was glad I did.  For one thing, they whipped up in half the time (maybe even less than half the time) mentioned in the recipe.  They were so voluminous that they fit into a dish twice the size of the 8-inch baking dish suggested in the recipe.  Cutting them after they were finished was another challenge.  I tried several different blades, finally settling on a pizza cutter as the best method. Also, they are sticky, as marshmallows tend to be.  I ended up tossing mine in a little confectioner's sugar so they can be handled more easily.  With all that said, here is the recipe I've come up with.

Candy-Cane Marshmallows
adapted from marthastewart.com

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 4 packages (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring
  • confectioner's sugar
  • finely crushed candy canes (optional)

Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray; line bottom with parchment paper.  Coat the parchment with cooking spray.  Set aside. 

Sprinkle gelatin over 3/4 cup water in small bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften. 

Meanwhile, put sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved.  Stop stirring; let mixture come to a boil.  Raise heat to medium-high; cook until mixture registers 255°F on a candy thermometer.  Off heat.  Slowly (to avoid a foam-over) add gelatin to hot sugar mixture.  Whisk until gelatin is dissolved.  Set aside.

Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.  With mixer running, gradually add hot gelatin-sugar mixture to egg whites.  Mix on high speed until very thick, 12-15 minutes.

Pour mixture into lined baking dish.  Working quickly, drop dots of red food coloring across surface of marshmallow.  Using a toothpick, swirl food coloring into marshmallow to create a marbleized effect.  Let marshmallow stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.  (Update:  Allowing the marshmallows to sit out overnight will yield a lighter melt-in-your-mouth texture.)

When marshmallows are firm and dry, lay a sheet of parchment or wax paper on the counter top and dust with confectioner's sugar.  Invert baking dish onto parchment and give a shake, if necessary, to release marshmallows onto the confectioner's sugar.  Sprinkle more confectioner's sugar over the top and sides of the marshmallow "cake".  Using a pizza cutter, cut marshmallows into 1 to 2-inch cubes, dusting the cut sides with more confectioner's sugar, shaking to remove excess.  Top with crushed candy canes, if desired.  Plate or package as desired.

My notes about the recipe:  I've made some suggestions above, but I wanted to say a little more about these.  For one thing, I have a Kitchenaid Professional 600 mixer, which is possessed with quite a bit of mixing muscle.  My marshmallow mixture had become thick and voluminous after just 6 minutes.  If you are using a less powerful mixer, you may need to whip them longer.  Also, the comments on Martha Stewart's website contain a comment from a woman using a hand mixer, who found the job too taxing to do with that tool.  You can decide whether your mixer is up to the task.

Also, being marshmallows, these are pretty high on the "ick" factor.  If you are planning to give them as a gift, be sure your recipient is someone who actually likes really sweet treats, especially marshmallows.  While I think this is a good recipe for home-made marshmallows, I probably wouldn't make it for just anybody.  It would need to be someone that I knew for sure and certain likes hot cocoa with marshmallows.  If you know that person, then you've found a great home-made food gift in this recipe!

3 comments from clever and witty friends:

Snoodles said...

Wow! Those are gorgeous! You didn't say if you liked the texture and flavor when you were done? Anything peppermint is a winner in my book! LOL

quiltzyx said...

They look great, but sound like too much work for me!

Spangler Candy said...

These Candy Cane Marshmallows look absolutely amazing! We love it when our mini candy canes are put to such great use! Happy Baking!