Ever since I made my first batch of homemade marshmallows, I’ve been completely obsessed. I’ve made a total of three different marshmallow flavors so far and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon. I find the process of marshmallow making extremely fascinating and meditative. It’s very much a “hurry up and wait” process. You have to be on it. Focused but relaxed and willing to be patient. What I love most about it is it’s like I have my own at-home chemistry lab but with more exciting ingredients like sugar, water, gelatin, flavored extracts, and cornstarch. That’s my kind of chemistry–candy chemistry. This time around I’m proud to present these Crème de Menthe marshmallows to you.
To be honest, science or rather, chemistry, was never my forte in my high school days. I really enjoyed biology, but when it came to taking chemistry, I was absolutely miserable and lost. Never having really struggled in a class like that before, I felt completely humiliated. Feelings of inferiority and ignorance in comparison to my classmates really gnawed on me. I was one of the only students that entered this teacher’s classroom without having previously taken her biology course (I took it from another teacher), so she prepped her students at the end of the bio course with some intro to chemistry lessons, and naturally they were way ahead of the curve come the following school year. It was a good lesson in perseverance and committing to finishing what I started, no matter how much of struggle it was and how much I wanted to drop it all together (I finished the class barely scraping by with a C–my only C in high school so this was a big deal to me and I will never forget it…. I know, total type “A” student over here).
I don’t know why I’m explaining all of this to you, other than I fought through my fears of having to take organic and organic chemistry in college (as pre-requisites into the dental hygiene program), and I made it through just fine. Which is interesting, because I rarely incorporate any of that knowledge in my job day-to-day, other than talking about the benefits of fluoride, calcium and potassium nitrate usage. But I don’t balance any chemical equations (thank GOODNESS!) or mix chemicals together in glass tube vials and wait for things to foam, explode or change color. Back then, I never fully understood what the hell I was doing in the context I was doing it in. But I think if marshmallow making had been involved, I would have put a lot more effort into learning chemistry and enjoyed it a hell of a lot more. So here I am presenting you Candy Chemistry 101.
Making marshmallows is so much like chemistry–it’s all about temperature, mixing the right ingredients together in the right amount, and patience. I said it before and I’ll say it again, this is my kind of chemistry–candy chemistry. And so far, I’m giving myself an A.
All chemistry talk aside, I absolutely die for anything with Crème de Menthe liquor in it. My first exposure to Crème de Menthe was my grandmother’s Grasshopper Pie, and I fell in love with the flavor. It’s like mint extract on steroids. I can’t think of a more beautiful flavor. I’ve had a bottle of Crème de Menthe lying around ever since I made this bundt cake way back when, and lightbulb went on when I started thinking about Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, St. Patrick’s Day coming up, and going above making just peppermint marshmallows. These are everything. The flavor pairs impeccably well with chocolate, making it the perfect topper on hot cocoa and sandwiched between graham crackers for s’mores (chocolate graham crackers? YES!). I have a recipe idea up my sleeve this weekend incorporating these into another recipe that I think you will all love. So with that said, make these now so you have them ready to go for the next step!
- For the gelatin bloom:
- 3 Tablespoons (about 3 packets) unflavored gelatin powder
- ½ cup cold water
- ¼ cup Crème de Menthe liquor
- For the marshmallows:
- ¾ cup water
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1¼ cup corn syrup
- pinch kosher salt
- For the marshmallow coating:
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup cornstarch
- Cooking spray
- Prepare pans and equipment: Spray the baking pan with cooking spray. Use a paper towel to wipe the pan and make sure there’s a thin film on every surface, corner, and side. Set it near your stand mixer, along with the kitchen towel and spatula. Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
- Bloom the gelatin: Measure the gelatin into the bowl of the stand mixer. Combine ½ cup cold water and Crème de Menthe liquor in a measuring cup and pour this over the gelatin while whisking gently with a fork. Continue stirring until the gelatin reaches the consistency of apple sauce and there are no more large lumps. Set the bowl back in your standing mixer. (Alternatively, you can bloom the gelatin in a small cup and transfer it to the stand mixer.)
- Combine the ingredients for the syrup: Pour ¾ cup water into the 4-quart saucepan. Pour the sugar, corn syrup, and salt on top. Do not stir.
- Bring the sugar syrup to a boil: Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring it to a full, rapid boil — all of the liquid should be boiling. As it is coming to a bowl, occasionally dip a pastry brush in water and brush down the sides of the pot. This prevents sugar crystals from falling into the liquid, which can cause the syrup to crystallize. If you don’t have a pastry brush, cover the pan for 2 minutes once the mixture is at a boil so the steam can wash the sides. → Do not stir the sugar once it has come to a boil or it may crystallize.
- Boil the syrup to 247°F to 250°F: Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the sauce pan and continue boiling until the sugar mixture reaches 247°F to 250°F. Take the pan off the heat and remove the thermometer.
- Whisk the hot syrup into the gelatin: Turn on your mixer to medium speed. Carefully pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin. The mixture may foam up — just go slowly and carefully.
- Increase speed and continue beating: When all the syrup has been added, cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and increase the speed to high (the cloth protects from splatters — the cloth can be removed after the marshmallows have started to thicken).
- Beat marshmallows until thick and glossy: Whip for about 10 minutes. At first, the liquid will be very clear and frothy. Around 3 minutes, the liquid will start looking opaque, white, and creamy, and the bowl will be very warm to the touch. Around 5 minutes, the marshmallow will start to increase in volume. You’ll see thin, sticky strands between the whisk and the side of the bowl; these strands will start to thicken into ropes over the next 5 minutes. The marshmallow may not change visually in the last few minutes, but continue beating for the full 10 minutes. When you finish beating and stop the mixer, it will resemble soft-serve ice cream.
- Immediately transfer to the baking pan: Using your stiff spatula, scrape the marshmallow mixture into the pan. This stuff is very thick and sticky, so don’t worry about getting every last bit out of the bowl. Just get as much as you can.
- Let the marshmallows set for 6 to 24 hours: Spray your hands lightly with cooking oil and smooth the top of the marshmallow to make it as even as possible. Let the mixture sit uncovered and at room temperature for 6 to 24 hours to set and “cure.”
- Prepare the marshmallow coating: Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a bowl.
- Remove the marshmallows from the pan: Sprinkle the top of the cured marshmallows with some of the powdered sugar mix and smooth it with your hand. Flip the block of marshmallows out onto your work surface. Use a spatula to pry them out of the pan if necessary. Sprinkle more powdered sugar mixture over the top of the marshmallow block.
- Cut the marshmallows: Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the marshmallows into squares. It helps to dip your knife in water every few cuts. (You can also cut the marshmallows with cookie cutters.)
- Coat each square with powdered sugar mix: Toss each square in the powdered sugar mix so all the sides are evenly coated.
- Store the marshmallows: Marshmallows will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks. Leftover marshmallow coating can be stored in a sealed container indefinitely.