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Marshmallows are by far one of my favorite childhood sweets. My mother has a weakness for hot cocoa and would buy every kind she walked by when we went to the grocery store. We ALWAYS had hot cocoa and marshmallows throughout every winter of my childhood. My mom had a certain love for marshmallows in her hot cocoa and I always agreed, hot cocoa should not be served without them.
Fast forward 20 years and I still want to drink hot cocoa with marshmallows and pass the tradition down to Syfy, but after looking at the ingredients, (i.e. corn syrup, food dyes, and preservatives ) I didn't really want to buy the conventional marshmallows.
A little history of marshmallows
Back in the day, I mean WAY back in the day, herbalists used to make marshmallows using the sap from the marshmallow plant. This was an arduous process but made these delicious (I'm imagining) marshmallows that also had the anti-inflammatory properties that marshmallow contains, helping to soothe sore throats and coughs. In the 1800's though, it was discovered that they could produce a lot more marshmallows quickly, when they took the sap from marshmallow plants and combined it with egg whites and sugar. The mixture was whipped by hand and took the form of the marshmallow we all know and love today. Candy makers eventually replaced the sap taken from the marshmallow plant with gelatin, which enabled the marshmallow mixture to maintain its form and reduced the arduous process of extracting the sap from the mallow plant. They combined the gelatin with corn syrup, starch, sugar, and water to create the fluffy texture of the marshmallow we find in our stores today.
Marshmallows that are GOOD for you!
I wanted to get back to the roots of what marshmallows used to be, whole foods ingredients that you can pronounce. These little puffy squares of goodness, are made with either honey or maple syrup (rather than refined sugars), and grass-fed beef gelatin (which has a LOT of healthy gut healing benefits!) These marshmallows are tasty even in tea, as well as coffee, and the requisite hot cocoa. Syfy loved these so much that he has been snacking on them for the last couple days, since I made so many for this post! I added some of these marshmallows to my Bulk Herb Store Creamy Pumpkin Pie Tea and OH BOY! was it freaking delicious!
Gelatin is jam packed with gut healing nutrients
Gelatin, a great natural source of dietary collagen, is mostly made up of amino acids, glycine and proline. Found in bones, fibrous tissues, and organs of animals, most people do not get enough of these amino acids. Gelatin consumption has been known to aid in
- skin, hair and nail growth
- tightens loose skin
- can help improve digestion by helping foods move more easily through the digestive tract
- gelatin can help improve gut integrity and digestive strength which in turn helps to heal your gut and helps those with food intolerance, inflammatory conditions, and autoimmune diseases
- can help reduce cellulite
- Gelatin helps to protect your joints and reduce joint pain, including arthritis and other inflammatory joint or bone diseases
- Gelatin can help you sleep better. One study found that 3 grams of glycine (found in gelatin) eaten before bed, “produced measurable improvements in sleep quality.”
Healthy Homemade Marshmallows
I originally learned to make marshmallows from The Urban Poser's post, Rustic Homemade Marshmallows W/Honey, though I do prefer to make this recipe with 1/2 maple syrup and 1/2 honey to reduce the strong honey flavor in the marshmallows. You can choose to do all honey (clover honey has a much milder taste) or even all maple syrup if you like. For a really great version of these with even less sugar, check out Brittany's recipe on the Pistachio Project, Homemade Sugar-Free Marshmallows.
NOTE FOR ADDING MARSHMALLOW ROOT
If you want a more authentic marshmallow flavor, like those from before our time, combine 1 Tbsp. marshmallow root with the 1 cup water, cold, and steep it for 1-2 hours. Strain the marshmallow root out and use the resulting tea in place of the water in the recipe.
- 8×8 pan for large marshmallow squares or 9×13 pan for smaller marshmallow squares
- unbleached parchment paper
- hand mixer or stand mixer
- candy thermometer
- mixing bowl
- 3 Tbsp. grass fed gelatin
- 1 cup filtered water, split in half (Alternately you can use hydrosol or tea here to add a specific herbal flavor, such as green tea or peppermint tea)
- 1 cup maple syrup or raw unfiltered honey, or half of each
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optionally you can use 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. some other extract for flavoring. Peppermint, almond, orange, lemon, etc. are all great options)
- arrowroot powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon powder, toasted coconut flakes, etc. for dusting the finished marshmallows (optional – you can leave the marshmallows plain too, you do not have to dust them)
- Either grease your pan (8×8 for large marshmallow squares or a 9×13 for smaller marshmallow squares) or line it both ways with unbleached parchment paper. If using parchment paper, you can easily remove the marshmallows from the pan using the “handles” that the parchment paper makes. If coating the marshmallows, spread a thin layer evenly in the bottom of the pan.
- In your mixing bowl pour in 1/2 cup water and whisk in the gelatin, set aside to let the gelatin bloom.
- In a medium saucepan combine the other 1/2 cup water, maple syrup and/or honey, and salt.
- Heat over medium to medium-high heat, bringing to a boil. Using your candy thermometer, let the mixture boil until it reaches 240 degrees or soft ball stage. Remove from heat. (If not removed in time, and the mixture gets too hot, your marshmallows might not fluff up and will be denser)
- Using either a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, turn it on low at first, breaking up the bloomed gelatin. Very SLOWLY pour the syrup/honey mixture into the gelatin mixture, while slowly turning up the speed on your mixer to high.
- Add the vanilla extract and allow mixture to whip on high for 5-10 minutes (this is where it's nice to have a stand mixer) until a thick marshmallow whipped cream is produced.
- Transfer the marshmallow whip to your prepared pan and smooth down with the back of your spoon. If using a coating, sprinkle on top of the marshmallows and pat down. If you are not using a coating, grease your hands, to prevent sticking, and pat down smooth. You can alternately use a piece of parchment paper on top to smooth out the marshmallow, and leave it on top to cover it while it is setting.
- Leave your marshmallows out to set (not in your fridge, that will create moisture which will destroy the marshmallow) for 6-8 hours or overnight.
- Using a knife, cut marshmallows in long strips, and then into squares from there. Dust marshmallows, on all sides, in your powder of choice, or leave natural without any dusting.
- Store marshmallows up to a week on your counter top in a sealed container. You can leave them out open to dry even longer. The longer you let them dry the better for toasting over a fire!
NOTE: You can use the fluffy whip to frost cupcakes, rather than putting it into the 8×8 pan. The Fluffy whip stage would also be the stage to add it to your rice Krispies when making Rice Krispie treats, rather than melting the marshmallows for them.