Friday 13 March 2015

How to make Marshmallows from scratch

Did you know it’s actually quite easy to make marshmallows? You need an ingredient you probably won’t have in your store cupboard – liquid glucose – and you need a thermometer, because you have to heat the sugar to a precise temperature. You have to be very careful as well, because the sugar gets very hot – this is not really one to be making with children -  but other than that, it’s actually quite straightforward!
I recently took a marshmallows and meringues class at Cakes 4 Fun in Putney, a lovely little cake decorating shop with a classroom space underneath. There were 8 of us and the tutor, Sarah, was very good at explaining what we needed to do, lending a hand where it was needed, and answering questions about all aspects of the process. It was a lovely sunny day and I felt very happy leaving with my huge box of meringues and marshmallows, even though the marshmallows weren’t quite set so I had to pop them straight in the fridge at home and cut into squares the next day.
We were given handouts with information and recipes but I don’t have their permission to reproduce the recipe, so instead I will give a general description of what we did and a few tips – there are plenty of marshmallow recipes available on the internet.
Place sugar and water into a saucepan and add the liquid glucose – you can buy this in tubes in large supermarkets (e.g. Dr Oetker) as well as on specialist cake decorating websites and shops. If you wet a spoon and your finger it’s easier to push the glucose into the pan as it is extremely sticky – think a clear version of golden syrup.
Heat the saucepan and it’s very important not to stir the contents at all. You need a thermometer as the mixture has to be heated to precisely 114C.
I had a sugar thermometer already – I can’t remember where I bought it – but it’s a glass thermometer with mercury inside, so it’s pretty hard to tell the precise temperature – and it’s quite hard to read the level when you are holding the thermometer in a saucepan so you either have to figure out an angle to hold it and tilt your head, or keep taking it out to check – at which point the temperature reading drops again. So it was  a very welcome coincidence when last week I was sent an Epica Ultra-Fast digital thermometer to review!
It’s so easy to use and the only setting is whether you want the temperature in Centigrade or Fahrenheit; otherwise you just turn it on. It has a long tip so can reach right down into a saucepan safely, and also has a pointed tip so you could insert it into a joint of meat to test whether it is cooked in the middle. The digital display is easy to use and very clear to see, so I was able to test the temperature of my sugar and easily read the result. It even measures temperatures in decimal points so you can see as it climbs – in other words, rather than going from 100 to 101, you can see it tick up from 100.4 to 100.6 to 100.8…. which is helpful if you really need to be precise.

When I made marshmallow again at home thanks to the thermometer I knew when to start beating my egg whites; a Kitchenaid or similar is brilliant for this as you can start whisking and go back to the saucepan. I learned one interesting tip for beating egg whites which is actually the opposite of what I thought. I normally whisk egg whites until they are stiff, so for quite a long time at quite a high speed, and then add the sugar which I fold in gently. Apparently that’s completely wrong, and what you should do is whisk the egg whites on a slow speed, gradually increasing to medium, but stop when they can form soft peaks – not stiff peaks. Then add the sugar gradually, whisking each time, and then whisk at high speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks.

For the marshmallow we had also soaked gelatine in water and now squeezed out the water and added the gelatine to the hot sugar mixture, and carefully stirred in until it had melted. While the egg whites were being whisked, we turned the mixer down to low and very carefully poured the hot sugar and gelatine mixture into the eggs. Then we turned the mixer up to high and whisked until the eggs were stiff and glossy.
We lined small baking tins with clingfilm and dusted them with a  50/50 mixture of icing sugar and cornflour. We then chose to add flavours to our marshmallows; I added two spoonfuls of lemon curd to mine, while other people added cocoa powder. We spooned the marshmallow mixture into the tin and put it in the freezer to set – you can use the fridge but we were hoping to speed ours up.
They weren’t quite set by the time we wanted to take them home, but weren’t far off. It came out of the tin as one piece so I put it in the fridge at home and the next day cut into squares. The pieces are still very sticky once they are cut so you need to toss them in the same 50/50 mixture of icing sugar and cornflour. Mine were still good almost a week later; they were soft and pillowy, noticeably different to shop-bought marshmallows but at the same time still familiar as marshmallows, and the lemon flavour gave a lovely kick (though next time I might use one spoonful of lemon curd, not two). I had fun making these and really like the finished product!
These are really nice to parcel up in a pretty box and give for Mother’s Day – so I am sharing them with Treat Petite, the blog challenge hosted by Stuart at Cakeyboi and Kat at the Baking Explorer, as their theme this month is mums.
Eggs are a key ingredient in marshmallows so I am also sending these to Simply Eggcellent, hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen.
The other key ingredient of course is sugar, and since the letter for my Alphabakes challenge this month is S, I am entering them in that challenge as well! Ros at the More Than Occasional Baker who runs the challenge together with me is hosting this month.
Thanks to Epica for sending me the thermometer to review. All opinions are my own.


  1. I adore marshmallow but have never made it, I guess I need to be brave! I need to find a veggie version so The Viking can tuck in. This looks so good and fluffy though. Thanks so much for the brilliant Simply Eggcellent entry x

  2. I love making marshmallows Caroline - yours look squidgy and delish. Thanks for entering them into Treat Petite.

  3. Homemade marshmallows definitely taste better than store bought ones.Sounds like a fun class!


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