One of the most ubiquitous Easter candies out there may be the marshmallow chick. (The chocolate egg is a good contender here but for the sake of this post I’m going with a thoroughly unscientific unsupported claim that it’s the marshmallow chick.) Yum… but not really if you stop to think about the insane number of things in those candies that are just bad bad bad bad bad for you.
When I gave up refined sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corm syrup all those years ago I kind of thought that marshmallows were a thing of the past. I confess to looking for them whenever the situation presented itself. I looked at ones in the health food stores and even got hopeful at the prospect of kosher marshmallows or vegetarian marshmallows. But in the end they all fell back on the corn syrup. Then one day I realized that could make them myself relatively simply at home and I started experimenting.
First I started fiddling with the ingredients. Brown rice syrup doesn’t work. Trust me. Don’t try it. Honey works, but the taste can be overpowering depending on what kind you use and my kids weren’t crazy about them. Blue agave sort of worked but there was a slightly funny aftertaste that meant the kids would eat them when they were baked into something else, but on their own they weren’t so great.
Then, I started fiddling with the recipe. I had been using a recipe from a famous Food Network star whose recipes are generally so good I don’t need to alter them. But because I couldn’t get the marshmallows exactly right I started shopping around. Most of the other recipes I found followed the same pattern: boil the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a pot while the gelatin sits in cold water in the mixer. But then I found an old recipe… from the NY Times Magazine from sometime in the late 1970s… and it had part of the process reversed: the water, sugar, and gelatin went into the saucepan and the syrup waited, unheated, in the mixer.
This was the answer: don’t heat the blue agave. It really didn’t like to be boiled. But being added in afterward was the trick. These marshmallows turn out white, fluffy, sweet, and… well… marshmallowy perfect… and they’ll work pretty great for a recipe coming up next week!
Adapted from The New York Times Magazine by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey
- 1/4 cup arrowroot
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 envelope gelatin
- 1/3 cup water
- 2/3 cup evaporated cane juice
- 1/2 cup blue agave syrup
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Combine the gelatin, water, in a small saucepan and allow it to rest without any heat under it for 5 minutes.
- Add to the bowl of a stand mixer the blue agave, salt, and vanilla.
- Add the evaporated cane juice to the saucepan and turn the heat on low. Stirring gently, mix until the gelatin and the sweetener have both dissolved, being careful not to bring it to a boil.
- When it is all dissolved add the mixture to the stand mixer and turn on its highest setting.
- Whip for 15-20 minutes until peaks form.
- Prepare a small sheet pan with parchment line at the bottom.
- Mix together the confectioners’ sugar with the arrowroot and sprinkle some onto the bottom of the pan.
- When the gelatin mixture is finished whipping spread it evenly on the sheet pan.
- Sprinkle the top with more of the confectioners’ sugar and set aside some place dry to set for anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.
- Once dried flip the marshmallows out onto a surface sprinkled with the confectioners’ sugar and arrowroot mixture (you may need to make more) and cut them with a sharp knife into whatever size marshmallows you desire.
- Add more confectioners’ sugar and arrowroot to a large zip-top bag and drop the cut marshmallows into the bag. Seal the bag and shake it to coat all the marshmallows evenly.
- Return the marshmallows to a plate for serving, eating, or cooking. Or, reseal the bag to store.
- Can be stored for up to 1 month.
* Note: It’s best to make these on a cool dry day. The day I made these it rained all day and it took forever for them to set. I had to leave them out with a lot of the confectioners’ sugar/arrowroot mixture on them for nearly two days for them to set properly. So, be prepared to add some resting time if it’s humid when you make them.
- If you want to make them holiday-ish then add some food coloring before the whipping ends and when it’s time to cut the marshmallows out use cookie cutters to put them in fun shapes!
- Want a peanut butter and fluff sandwich? After whipping the gelatin mixture spread it on a slice of toast with peanut butter.
Cooking time (duration): 30
Meal type: dessert