Fresh homemade marshmallows are so much better. If you haven’t made some in a while, I recommend you try this vintage recipe. It’s a clever and trustworthy recipe & I decided to break it down so that you can have all the tips in your sleeve to bake your best homemade marshmallows.
Marshmallows are easy to make but there are few things to be aware of when looking for a certain sense of texture. This wonderful vintage marshmallows recipe is over 100 years old from The Candy Cook Book by Alice Bradley. It has simple tricks that take you to closer to those perfect fluffy and soft bites.
To sweeten our summer BBQ gatherings, I made these strawberry marshmallows last summer. But it has become a tradition to make these every summer so I’m on it again this weekend! I shall link the newest creations here, too.
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Looking for the fluffy and soft marshmallow texture
Let’s think marshmallows in three stages of being.
- First, the marshmallow batter is a super sticky lava-like mass. It’s okay and necessary to taste it and check that you have the flavor balance right.
- Second, coated marshmallows are fresh, fluffy, and soft. They are heavenly pillows! Not dry, not dense, not wet.
- And finally, when I think about fire-toasted marshmallows I get these memories of melted gooey deliciousness.
So when it comes to texture, sogginess and chewiness are the two extremes to be avoided. This vintage recipe has simple fundamentals which is why the baking process works. Let’s have a closer look at that.
The right syrup temperature
The perfect fluffy and soft mouth-feel of a marshmallow comes down to two major things: temperature of the sugar syrup and amount of air whipped into the batter. In this recipe, we are set in the lower scale of hot marshmallow syrup at 240°F (approx. 115-116°C). If you boil the syrup too hot, you’ll end up with chewy bubble gum.
It’s always a good idea to calibrate your candy thermometer but once you make the syrup correctly, memorize the bubbles! When you remember how the bubbles are supposed to behave and look, you can confidently manage a marshmallow situation where the thermometer is nowhere to be found (check).
Did I also mention already that this classic recipe giving a nod to the French origins of marshmallow making by using whipped egg whites for even more softer texture? Some like marshmallows without egg whites but I prefer this version.
Whipping the candy batter a long while is necessary
In order to get enough air into the marshmallow batter, you need speed & patience. Once the gelatin is combined with the sugar syrup in whipping, the mass should double in volume while cooling off in the midst of whipping. It’s paramount to whip the gelatin to its highest volume. Don’t’ cheat.
What tools I need to make homemade marshmallows?
- A deep saucepan
- Sugar thermometer*
- One big whisking bowl and a medium whisking bowl
- Mixer/electric whisk
- Oven pan or rectangular cake pan (I prefer using square baking pans like this*)
- Cling film, strainer or flour sifter & a sharp knife
From an experience, I can safely that if you scale the vintage marshmallows recipe down by 50 percent, you’ll do just fine with one standard electric hand mixer. Since the candy mass sets relatively quickly, it’s a good idea to measure everything ready as well as prep the oven pan in advance.
However, if you want to make a full batch of marshmallows, a stand mixer with a fitted whisk attachment is a safe choice. With this setup, you get to whisk the egg whites and the candy mass separately without extra hassle. In the end, it’s a matter of equipment you have available and whether you want to make 20 or 40 marshmallows.
Vintage Marshmallows | Recipe
I’ve converted the original cubic measures to more exact measures when necessary for us candy bakers who prefer to work with a kitchen scale. To check the original vintage marshmallow recipe, click here.
The vintage marshmallows’ instructions are verbatim from the Candy Cook Book. A more wordy breakdown of the strawberry and coconut flavored marshmallows by yours truly are found after the recipe details plus some extra tips on choosing the ingredients.
With 32cm x 20cm oven pan the recipe yields approx. 36-40 big marshmallows. When you use a square or a rectangular baking pan, you get the nicest edges and maximum amount of marshmallows. For example, this 11×11 inch nonstick square baking pan* is suitable.
Put sugar, corn syrup, and hot water in a saucepan, and stir until sugar is dissolved, bring to boiling point and boil without stirring to 240°F., or until it forms a soft ball when tried in cold water. Remove from fire, add gelatine which has soaked in the cold water, and beat mixture until it is white. Add whites of eggs beaten until stiff, and beat candy vigorously until it gets thick and stringy. Add vanilla and cornstarch, pour into a pan 9 inches square that has been dusted over with sifted confectioners' sugar, and sift confectioners' sugar over the top of the candy in the pan. Cut into squares with a silver knife that is kept moist by being dipped into the water. Let candy stand overnight to dry off, then pack between layers of wax paper. Other flavors, and nuts or candied fruits cut into small pieces, may be added if desired.
Put sugar, corn syrup, and hot water in a saucepan, and stir until sugar is dissolved, bring to boiling point and boil without stirring to 240°F., or until it forms a soft ball when tried in cold water. Remove from fire, add gelatine which has soaked in the cold water, and beat mixture until it is white.
Add whites of eggs beaten until stiff, and beat candy vigorously until it gets thick and stringy. Add vanilla and cornstarch, pour into a pan 9 inches square that has been dusted over with sifted confectioners' sugar, and sift confectioners' sugar over the top of the candy in the pan.
Cut into squares with a silver knife that is kept moist by being dipped into the water. Let candy stand overnight to dry off, then pack between layers of wax paper. Other flavors, and nuts or candied fruits cut into small pieces, may be added if desired.
Flavored Homemade Marshmallows
Last summer (2019) was fantastic and our small strawberry field thrived. I literally binged on strawberries every day, adding them in my breakfast porridge and snacking them on every possible meal. I also made strawberry juice and thought, why not use some of that also to flavor marshmallows.
Since making only one kind of marshmallow is boring, I actually flavored two marshmallow versions for our BBQs by blooming the gelatine with juices. I used cold homemade strawberry extract for one batch and cold organic coconut juice for the other batch.
I kept the vanilla extract constant for both but added a tablespoon of small coconut flakes into the final batter for the latter (would have wanted to use coconut flour but had run out of it). Since the pink color of the strawberry juice was too fair in the end, I added a hint of red color paste into the strawberry marshmallow batter.
Next, I think I’m going to make something peachy. Or cherry marshmallows. Any ideas for flavoring?
Extra tips for making Marshmallows
Here are some extra tips on how to choose right ingredients and how to play with them with confidence. After all, baking is about understanding the ingredients.
What syrup should I use?
The original recipe mentions corn syrup but here in the Nordics, it’s not that popular. I’ve baked these marshmallows with both wheat-based glucose syrup and normal, light-colored baking syrup which has been mixed with starch a bit. Starch in the syrup is the key.
How much cornstarch?
By adjusting the amount of cornstarch you can play with the gooeyness factor. For example, in this strawberry version, I cut down the added cornstarch with 50 percent. In the future, I think I’ll stick to 75% added cornstarch of the original amount given in the recipe because that’s the way I like them best.
The fear of sugar crystallization
A common pitfall mentioned in many marshmallows recipes is the fear of sugar crystallization. I warmly recommend the vintage marshmallows process by the Candy Cook Book. Do not stir the mix at all. Add the ingredients into the saucepan in the right order: sugar first, syrup second & hot water third. This way the sugar and syrup start to dissolve into the hot water already before moving the pan over the stove. How clever!
Oil or cover the pan before dusting
When making a full recipe for strawberry marshmallows, I used a rectangular 32cm x 20cm oven pan lined with cling film. Please don’t judge me for plastic. I rarely see a point of wasting cling film but I do keep a lonely roll in the kitchen for urgent situations.
When I made the coconut marshmallows, I brushed the sides of the pan with organic coconut oil which gave the marshmallows a final layer of flavor. But if don’t have mild-flavored oil, then basing the pan with cling film is a safe choice. Canola oil is the mildest oil to use.
Whatever method you’re using to keep the coating mix on the sides of the pan in place, be sure to prepare the pan(s) before making the recipe since the batter sets really quickly!
Patience is the key
For our BBQ party, I wanted to make big marshmallow cubes. This also meant a longer waiting time. I left the pan at room temperature overnight and then flipped the marshmallow onto a new baking sheet with sugar cornstarch mix coating. I left it to rest for 5 more hours or so.
Once done, I cut the marshmallow mass into strips and cubes with a wet/oiled knife. Few cubes at the time, I coated the marshmallows in the flour-sugar mix and then strained extra coating off. I left the cubes to set a few more extra hours and then stored the marshmallows in an airtight container.
Marshmallows that don’t include any egg are better for toasting in the fire. However, when these vintage marshmallows have set a few days, they worked just fine as well because the added starch balances the amount of extra liquid. I hope this vintage marshmallows recipe brings your summer sweetness! Do let me know if you have any questions!