Welcome one, welcome all, to the season of staying indoors: WINTER!
I love staying home, and I love winter. I love hot beverages, snow, sweaters, boots, mittens, coats, earmuffs, wool socks… basically all winter clothes. I also love a homemade marshmallow.
Really, I’ll eat any sort of marshmallow, I don’t discriminate. I once ate an entire bag of jet-puffed mini marshmallows while writing a paper in college, and I didn’t feel even the slightest bit sick afterward. I think it might be safe to say that I am part marshmallow.
More recently, while visiting Amagansett, I picked up a package of homemade vanilla bean marshmallows and WHOA were they delicious! Fluffy, sticky, powdery, sugary, vanilla-y, little cubes of love.
Now, pretty much any time that I taste something that I really enjoy, I want to make my own version. The thing is, it usually ends up being pretty different from the original- but that’s the fun part! I really enjoy taking a small piece of inspiration and running WILD with it. Hence, the booze and rainbow sprinkles. Because, why not? Life is too short and the world is too dark a place to pass up coloring your marshmallows pink, and stirring in a little whiskey.
Speaking of whiskey, please note that you can add absolutely any kind of liquor or liqueur that you wish to this recipe! I do not recommend making this recipe without the booze, simply because I am not sure how it would turn out without it. I’d say stick to a specifically non-boozy marshmallow recipe for that route.
I used Jack Daniels Honey because I personally enjoy the flavor. I also think that bourbon or cointreau would be fabulous!
As far as the vanilla goes, I encourage you to use real vanilla bean because it’s just so dang delicious, and I love you, and I want you to experience this, okay?
Also though, I am not sure how vanilla extract would affect the consistency and color of the mixture, as I have not tried it.
If you’d like to forego vanilla altogether, that would also work! (But like, get the vanilla bean if you can. Just do it. It tastes so good.)
Making marshmallows made me feel like a chemist. Blooming gelatin and boiling sugar? And whipping sugar? So many chemical changes! Before making these I actually didn’t know what all was in marshmallows (other than sugar), which made the process feel even more like a science experiment.
Gelatin is weird! In a good way. The black specks in the bowl are the vanilla bean.
See how runny it looks? This was worrisome but it turned out fine! I did continue to whip for another 3 mins or so after this photo was taken.
I worried about my results, particularly while whipping the mixture, concerned that it wasn’t going to lift in color or fluff up enough. Even after putting the pan in the freezer I worried that it wouldn’t set. But it did! It all worked out pretty spectacularly.
Cooking chemists, one other thing that should be noted before you begin rendering your concoction: most marshmallows will set at room temperature. These however, due to the booze, will not. Ya know how liquor doesn’t freeze, it will just get really cold? Yeah. That.
That is why they must be frozen to set, and kept frozen for storage. While taking photographs of the finished product, I had my ‘mallows at room temperature for two hours or so and they didn’t melt or anything serious, but they did become softer.
Additionally, if you’re wondering why the mixture is more liquidy or why the marshmallows are stickier than other recipes, it’s the liquor!
A Few Other Notes:
Why cornstarch, Kiya? Why not Confectioners sugar to coat the marshmallows?
Well, funny you should ask. In the moment, I used cornstarch because the recipe that I modified called for it, AND because I didn’t have any confectioner’s sugar.
However, even though I love dessert, I do not like super sweet things. So it turns out that the cornstarch was a great way to tone down the sweetness!
You can use whichever you prefer.
This recipe moves FAST.
I suggest having your final pan prepped, double boiler simmering, and sugar cooking all at once.
You want to work while the gelatin and sugar are warm, so read ahead and hop to it.
Even after the marshmallow is removed from the freezer, remove the parchment and dust quickly, or the marshmallow will become stuck to the parchment. If this happens, just put back into the freezer for a bit.
Add your sprinkles before covering with parchment and freezing.
That’s it! You’re ready to rock. Channel your inner mad scientist and whip up some boozy vanilla bean marshmallows!
Boozy Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
- 2 tbsp plain gelatin
- 1 cup cold water divided
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 1/4 cup liqueur (I used Jack Daniels Honey)
- 1 vanilla bean
- vegetable oil or baking spray
- corn starch for dusting
- food coloring (optional)
- sprinkles (optional)
- Choose a pan for your marshmallows to set in. (Choose a shallow pan like a rimmed baking sheet for smaller marshmallows, or a brownie pan for fatter marshmallows like I've made.) When you've chosen your pan, cut two pieces of parchment paper that are about an inch wider than your pan on all sides. Fit one piece of parchment inside your pan and grease lightly with oil or baking spray. Then, grease one side of the other piece of parchment and set aside for later.
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over half a cup of cold water and stir to combine. Be sure to break up any lumps. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until the gelatin swells and softens.
- Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the remaining half cup of water, sugar, and corn syrup. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Once the mixture begins to boil, stop stirring and continue to cook over high heat, until the mixture reaches 242 F. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool to 210 F.
- While the sugar mixture cools, heat a pot of simmering water fitted with a heat proof bowl (aka a double boiler). Transfer the gelatin to the bowl and stir continuously until the gelatin is completely dissolved and liquid. Remove from heat and stir in the liqueur.
- Combine the gelatin, the sugar mixture, and two drops of food coloring (if desired) in a large bowl. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean (use a sharp knife to halve lengthwise, then use the dull edge of the knife to scrape) and add to the mixture. Whip with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy and doubled in size, about 10 minutes.
- Working quickly, pour the mixture into the parchment lined pan. Dust with sprinkles if you like! Top with the second piece of parchment, with the oiled side facing down. If necessary, use the back of a spoon or a spatula to lightly smooth the surface and spread into an even layer.
- Place the pan in the freezer and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Remove from the freezer and peel off the top sheet of parchment. (Move quickly, as the longer the marshmallow sits, the stickier it will get. It may be sticky to begin with and that's okay. Boss that parchment off of there!) Dust the surface with cornstarch, spreading lightly with your fingers to coat completely.
- Turn the pan over onto a clean cutting surface, peel away the parchment, and dust with cornstarch. Then, cut as desired, continuing to dust all exposed surfaces with cornstarch. I also found it helpful to coat my knife in cornstarch! Store your marshmallows in the freezer in an airtight container for up to four months.
I hope these tasty treats bring warmth and joy to your winter months, even if you aren’t a winter person. Rainbow sprinkles can brighten any grey day!