From s’mores to sweet potato casserole, marshmallows are an essential wintertime ingredient. These airy puffs of sugar and cornstarch are surprisingly easy to whip up at home (and they make a great host gift or party favor). When Imbibe production coordinator Sarah Thornton brought a batch of her homemade marshmallows to the office recently, their fluffy texture left the whole staff floating on cloud nine. Her recipe, which she adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2002), gives the option of infusing the marshmallows with seasonal flavors like maple or peppermint, making your next cup of cocoa extra-special.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter or vegetable oil. Combine 1/3 cup of cornstarch and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar in a bowl or baking dish. Sprinkle pan with powdered sugar/cornstarch mix and reserve remainder of mix.
Pour 1/2 cup of cold water into the bowl of the mixer, 3 packets (or 3 tablespoons) sprinkle unsweetened, unflavored gelatin on top and let sit 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to bloom.
Mix 2/3 cup of light corn syrup, 2 cups of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of water in saucepan; bring to a boil on high for approximately one minute until mixture reaches 240–250 degrees F. (This is called the “hard ball” stage.)
Slowly drizzle the boiling sugar mixture into the gelatin while running the mixer on low speed with the flat beater attachment; add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Raise speed to medium-low until the marshmallow mix turns white (3–4 minutes); increase to high and run until the mixture’s volume is no longer increasing (additional 6–8 minutes). Add 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract and mix until completely blended.
Work the mix into a pan using a greased spatula and greased hands to form an even layer of marshmallow. Let the marshmallow sit at room temperature, uncovered, for 18–24 hours.
Turn marshmallow cake onto flat surface covered with 2–3 tablespoons of reserved cornstarch/powdered sugar mix. Use scissors to cut marshmallows into cubes.
Dredge cubes in remaining cornstarch/powdered sugar mix until they’re no longer sticky. Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on your marshmallow size, and will keep for up to two weeks in a sealed, plastic container.