After my camping trip last week, I promised you folks a three-part series on the perfect s’more. Well, I’m not one for disappointing.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing really wrong with your typical store-bought s’more ingredients. After all, any s’more is better than no s’more. But I thought there would for sure be a way to improve on this campfire masterpiece. In order to show you how I went about it, I’m going to write three posts. One on each of the ingredients: marshamallows, graham crackers and chocolate.
Marshmallows, you’re up.
First of all, let’s talk about the problems with normal store shelf marshmallows. Just a few off the top of my head:
- They are dry, dry, dry!
- They have little to no flavor. If anything, they almost always taste stale.
Most people have no idea how easy it is to make homemade marshmallows. And the results provide a canvas for endless creativity. They can be whatever shape, size, color, or flavor you want. And did I mention they are EASY? Let’s get to it.
You probably have the players in this show already in your pantry: water, salt, unflavored gelatin, honey, sugar, vanilla extract (the real stuff, do as I say, not as I do), powdered sugar and (unpictured) cornstarch.
First up, we want to let the gelatin set up, in the bowl of a mixer, in goes water and the unflavored gelatin. Mix and set aside while you continue on. After about 10 minutes, it should look like some kind of crazy science experiment.
While the gelatin is doing it’s thang, we are going to mix up our cornstarch and powdered sugar. This will act as the sealant for the sticky edges of the marshmallows.
But first, we are going to use it to grease and “flour” our pans.
Here I have an 8×8 pan and a 9×13, because I doubled the recipe. For a single batch, use one 8×8 pan for high loft marshmallows or one 9×13 for flatter marshmallows. Spray the pan with cooking spray and sprinkle on the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture. It isn’t going to be a work of art or even close to perfect. No worries, marshmallows are super resilient and will deal with a little imperfection.
Next up, we’re going to boil the syrup.
While it make look like dirty dishwater in that photo, it is in fact water, sugar, honey and salt. Bring ‘er to a boil. Feel free to strap on your candy thermometer, but if you’re like me and can’t be bothered with such gadgets, rig up your meat thermometer.
We’re looking for right around a balmy 238°. From the time it hit a boil, it probably took about 10-15 minutes to hit 238°. Feel free to fold socks while you wait.
Especially if you have an alarmed thermometer that can alert you when the magic number has been reached.
Boo-yah! Remove from heat and turn on your mixer (with the gelatin) on low. Now slowly (and I mean sloowwwly) pour the scalding hot sugar syrup into the mixer. No photos of this, because did I mention we are working with 238° sugar here? BE CAREFUL! Let the syrup incorporate with the gelatin and then turn your mixer up to medium-high and let her rock and roll for 10-15 minutes.
At first it’ll look like dirty dishwater.
Then melted ice cream.
And then POW, like melted marshmallows.
Put in the vanilla extract and send it for another spin until just incorporated. Noteworthy anecdote: I almost always forget this step. No worries, they are still delicious and have a fabulously subtle honey flavor.
Pour and spread evenly into your prepared pans, remember, the height here directly correlates with the height of the finished product—there will be no falling or rising.
Set these sticky, glossy giant mallows in a place where they can go undisturbed for 4-5 hours. The tops are VERY sticky, so if you have pets or just a lot of dust floating around, I recommend spraying some plastic wrap with cooking spray and covering these.
And then you wait. 4-5 hours is about the minimum, you are looking for tacky to the touch, but not melted marshmallow sticky.
Pull out the cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture and, using a mesh strainer, sprinkle mixture onto top of marshmallows to seal in the sticky. Liberally “flour” your work surface with the cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture and flip the pan upside down to release the mallow. If you are really fortunate, it’ll plop right out.
But that never happens.
I normally have to stick my fingers under a corner and pull. The mallow will stretch, but don’t worry! As I said, they are very resilient and will regain the shape once out of the pan.
Now onto cutting. Using a sharp knife or cookie cutter, cut in the size and shape you wish.
Roll each marshmallow in the cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture and shake off excess. Prepare for your kitchen to look like a powdered sugar bomb went off.
Store in an airtight container. Or enjoy right then and there.
Or turn on your gas burner and roast them.
Homemade (Corn Syrup Free!) Marshmallows
(Adapted from Baked by Anna)
2 packets (13g) unflavored gelatine
1/2 cup cool water
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp kosher salt
/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup powdered sugar
In a small bowl, stir together corn starch and powdered sugar. Prepare a pan: Spray a large casserole or rimmed cookie sheet with spray and spoon in some of the powdered sugar mixture, turning the pan to coat it evenly. Combine cool water and gelatine in work bowl of mixer or very large bowl. In a heavy saucepan, combine water, sugar, honey and salt. Bring to rolling boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer registers 238-240, firm ball stage. Turn on mixer at low speed. Slowly pour hot syrup into bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined, and then turn mixer to high. Beat until very thick, fluffy and lukewarm, about 12-15 minutes with a stand mixer. Add vanilla extract towards the end of mixing. Spread evenly into prepared pan, and let cool at least 3-4 hours before slicing.
To slice, remove entire sheet of mallows to a cutting board. Grease a very sharp knife or scissors, and cut into desired size. Toss with remaining powdered sugar mixture until all sides are evenly coated and no longer sticky. Will keep in an airtight container at room temperature about 2-3 weeks.
When it comes to roasting these beauties, the most important thing to remember is that they are much, much more fresh than any variety of store bought mallows. This means that they roast much more quickly. I recommend assembling your s’more accouterments before roasting and keeping a very close eye on them when they are on the fire.