GIB TEST KITCHEN: Marshmallows

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

Make these marshmallows once, and you'll definitely be taking candy from a baby. —INGRAIN, Summer 2019

What’s not to love about giant, squishy, powdered sugar–dusted marshmallows? Not the extra springy sorts with a seemingly endless shelf life that made special appearances when puffed-rice bars or hot chocolate were on the after-school agenda. (We still love those.) We’re talking about marshmallows that take the candy to Great Glass Elevator heights, confections that might once have been reserved solely for Egyptian pharaohs and French royalty (they were) and those with a Golden Ticket.

Logic dictates that candies this good should not be easy to make. But other than a few tricks (to avoid a sticky mess and chewy mallow, don’t overwhip the marshmallow base), they fall on the approachable end of a candy thermometer (the soft-ball stage). That you can make a batch with pantry ingredients serves as a handy excuse to make a powdered-sugar mess in the kitchen anytime you please (a fun activity after a particularly maddening workday). Char a few of your plump, pillowy mallows on the stovetop, stuff them between graham crackers and chocolate, and grab a Saison—otherwise affectionately known as The Beer that Refused to Die—from the fridge. Now that’s how you do summer.


(Fructose, people, fructose.) Both light corn syrup and highfructose corn syrup (HFCS) are made from cornstarch, which is derived from the endosperm of corn kernels. (Dark corn syrup is made from refiner’s sugar, a derivative of molasses.)

The difference? Corn syrup is 100% glucose, and some of that glucose has been converted enzymatically to fructose in HFCS. The latter has gotten such a bad rap (perhaps justified, but we’re not here to judge) that the Corn Refiners Association made a request in 2010 to change the name of HFCS to “corn sugar.” It was rejected by the FDA.

Not all government attempts to protect consumers from misinformation in the sweetener world are as crystal clear. Manufacturers can add HFCS to corn syrup and still call the product corn syrup. Check the label (look for that f-word), or pony up for premium brands. We’re not talking coffee here; less than a dollar should do it. Corn syrup, Karo, $3 for 16 ounces

Pairing The marshmallow’s sweet vanilla notes complement both a traditional citrus-forward Saison, like Saison Dupont, and a fruitier style with tropical expressions, like Goose Island SPF.

Makes about 5 dozen


Vegetable oil

2½ tablespoons (2 packets) powdered gelatin

½ cup confectioners' sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

⅔ cup light corn syrup

2 cups granulated sugar

Pinch of salt


Classic: 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Citrus: zest of 2 lemons (or mix of lemons and oranges)

Mint: ½ teaspoon peppermint extract



Rubber spatula

Candy thermometer


1. PREP THE PAN. Line a 9-by-9-inch rectangular baking pan with two perpendicular sheets of foil large enough to hang over the edges. Rub foil with vegetable oil (a paper towel dipped in the oil works well) and push foil snugly into the corners of pan.

If using extra-wide rolls of foil (like those available at superstores), one sheet should do the job.

2. ACTIVATE GELATIN. Fit stand mixer with the whisk attachment and pour ½ cup water (cold or room temperature) into mixer bowl. Sprinkle 2½ tablespoons (2 packets) gelatin over water and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together ½ cup confectioners' sugar + ¼ cup cornstarch.

Sprinkle gelatin as evenly as possible over the water, not in one place.

3. PREPARE SUGAR SYRUP. In a medium saucepan, combine ½ cup water + ⅔ cup light corn syrup. Mound 2 cups granulated sugar + pinch of salt in the center of corn syrup mixture.

Placing the sugar in the middle of the saucepan helps avoid caramelization.

4. HEAT SYRUP. Bring sugar mixture to a boil over high heat. Gently swirl the pan as the syrup heats to dissolve the sugar. Cook until mixture registers 240°F (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer.

This is not the time to answer emails! The syrup heats slowly at first, then will rise in temperature quickly.

5. TRANSFER SYRUP TO A STAND MIXER. Immediately remove pan from stove, turn stand mixer to low, and slowly—and carefully—pour syrup into bowl.

Try to avoid pouring syrup directly over whisk attachment or down sides of the bowl (the syrup will harden onto the metal).

6. WHIP MARSHMALLOW BASE. Turn mixer to medium high and whip until marshmallow base is fluffy and silky white, about 6 minutes. Marshmallow base should be airy but not over-whipped or it will stick to the whisk attachment.

Mixers with standard-size bowls may require more than 6 minutes of whipping; larger professional-size bowls (6 quarts) will aerate the candy more quickly.

7. FLAVOR AND SET MARSHMALLOWS. Immediately reduce mixer to low and add preferred flavorings. Mix only until just combined, then use a rubber spatula to quickly scrape marshmallow base into the prepared pan. Smooth over the top as well as you can.

Hurry! The marshmallows will set up quickly. If the candy begins to stick to the spatula when transferring mixture to prepared pan, lightly rub the spatula with vegetable oil.

8. LET CANDY COOL. Sift a few tablespoons of the confectioners' sugar mixture over the marshmallows; let cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Pour boiling water into the mixer bowl and over the whisk to help remove residual candy.

9. SLICE MARSHMALLOWS. Lightly coating a sharp knife with vegetable oil. Turn marshmallows out onto a work surface dusted with confectioners' sugar mixture and cut marshmallows into squares. Toss in bowl with the confectioners' sugar mixture to coat completely.

Use your fingers to pull marshmallows away from the edge of the foil.

10. EAT! Store marshmallows in an airtight container (or zip-top bag) for up to 1 week.

—Forget the fancy chocolate; homemade s'mores call for good old Hershey's bars.

Grocery List: Marshmallows

Check out what else is happening in the GIB Test Kitchen.

Recent Posts

See All