I'm not sure what the impetus was for making these. We have no camping trips planned (s'mores!), it isn't hot cocoa season (it was 80 degrees here over the weekend) and I didn't have a particular craving for marshmallows. However, when I saw this blog post, I had to give them a try. It is easy to shy away from recipes that have ingredients you don't normally use (corn syrup and gelatin) and require equipment that you might not own (a candy thermometer) but sometimes it is a nice challenge to branch out of your comfort zone. And I don't know about you, but I am always amazed by what can be created in your own kitchen... don't be intimidated!
Side note - I have found that a candy thermometer is quite useful and inexpensive. Be careful when purchasing one - there are similar thermometers that *look* like they are the right thing, but aren't (Julie, I apologize again for lending you my "candy thermometer" that was not before I sorted this issue out for myself). For example, this recipe requires the sugar mixture to register between 238 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.... that other thermometer will not be helpful! It is also useful for the thermometer to clip to the pan you are using like this one or this one. Losing the thermometer into the boiling sugar mixture would be a very bad thing.
While I linked to the blog post that inspired me above, and I think the photos included can be helpful, the recipe included is not particularly accurate and is a bit confusing. After making the marshmallows, I'd use the measurements and instructions set forth below. And seriously, these are so simple and quite satisfying to make. The actual prep work took about 20 minutes and then the marshmallows rest. Yes, the resulting pans and utensils are a bit sticky but it is definitely worth it because the marshmallows are fluffy and flavorful and SO much better than what you buy in the store. Be prepared - you'll be sticky afterward!
Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
Yield = 32 1"x1" marshmallows
3 (1/4-ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup water, divided
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups confectioners sugar, divided
1 cup light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
1 tbsp vanilla extract
About 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
Stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment
Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan.
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water in bowl of mixer and let soften while making syrup.
Stir together granulated sugar, 1 cup confectioners sugar, corn syrup, remaining water, and a pinch of salt in a small heavy saucepan. Boil over medium heat, without stirring, until thermometer registers 238 to 240 degrees F. Remove from heat.
With mixer at low speed, pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in a slow stream down side of bowl. Add vanilla bean and vanilla extract, increase speed to high and beat until very thick and mixture forms a thick ribbon when beater is lifted, about 12 minutes.
Pour marshmallow into baking pan (it will be very gooey) and smooth top with a lightly oiled spatula. Work quickly- it solidifies in an instant. Resist the urge to scrape the bowl of your stand mixer - you won't get it all out and if you try, the rest of the marshmallow will solidify before you can smooth it out on top. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until surface is no longer sticky and you can gently pull marshmallow away from sides of pan with your fingertips, 2 to 3 hours.
Place confectioners sugar in a large bowl. Use a spatula to pull sides of marshmallow from edge of pan, then invert onto cutting board. Cut marshmallow into 1-inch squares, then dredge in confectioners sugar to coat completely. This helps keep the marshmallows from sticking to each other. Store the marshmallows in an air tight container for one week.