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Monday, April 2, 2012

Forget Peeps: Make Your Own Marshmallows!

Jamie Wolpert (left) and Sammy Haines (right) test some marshmallows for us at Here & Now studios at WBUR in Boston. (Jesse Costa/Here & Now)

If there ever is a time for the marshmallow, it’s now: Americans buy more than 700 million Peeps around this time of year.

And today we celebrate not just the Peep, but the marshmallow behind it which, we learn in a new book was actually invented by the Egyptians!

The new book is “Marshmallow Madness!” by author Shauna Sever, and it includes recipes for every type of marshmallow from classic vanilla to sea salt caramel swirl to margarita marshmallow. (Selected recipes below.)


Classic Vanilla Marshmallows (printer friendly/pdf)

Classic vanilla marshmallows from the book "Marshmallow Madness!" by Shauna Sever. (Shauna Sever)

Makes: About 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch mallows

THE BLOOM
4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

THE SYRUP
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt

THE MALLOWING
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Classic Coating plus more for dusting

Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

WHISK TOGETHER the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and let soften for 5 minutes.

STIR TOGETHER the sugar, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, pour remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour it into the mixer bowl. Set the mixer speed to low and keep it running.

WHEN THE SYRUP reaches 240°F, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the vanilla; the finished marshmallow will be opaque white, fluffy, and tripled in volume. Pour it into the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to smooth it into the corners. Sift coating evenly and generously over top. Let set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.

Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut into whatever size pieces you wish (a pizza cutter works great for squares). Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more coating, patting off the excess.

Shauna’s Variation: Super vanilla-ize these mallows by adding a scraped vanilla bean or dab of pure vanilla bean paste along with the vanilla extract.

Sea Salt Caramel Swirl Marshmallows (printer friendly/pdf)

Sea salt caramel swirl marshmallows from the book "Marshmallow Madness!" by Shauna Sever. (Shauna Sever)

Makes: About 2 dozen 1 ½-inch mallows

THE SWIRL
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
3 tablespoons cream
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

THE MALLOWING
1 batch Classic Vanilla marshmallow batter*
1/2 cup Classic Coating, plus more for dusting

*Increase the salt to 1/4 teaspoon in the syrup.

Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and wipe away any excess.

STIR TOGETHER the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup comes to a bubble. From this point on, don’t stir the syrup; just occasionally swirl the pan gently. When the caramel reaches a light amber color, remove the pan from the heat and quickly whisk in the cream. The caramel will bubble violently, so be careful. Whisk in the salt. Transfer the caramel to a medium bowl.

WHIP UP A BATCH of Classic Vanilla batter. Working quickly, scoop about a quarter of the finished batter into the bowl with the caramel. Whisk the mixture together until well blended. Scrape the caramel marshmallow back into the bowl with the vanilla batter and, using a large spatula and a figure-eight motion, fold and swirl the two together. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to smooth it into the corners and flatten the top. Sift coating evenly and generously over the top. Let it set for 8 hours in a cool, dry place.

Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut it into pieces and dip the sticky edges in more coating, patting off the excess. After a day or two of storage, these mallows may need to be redusted with coating.

Shauna’s Note: If you’re crunched for time or if caramel-making terrifies you, a half cup of a high-quality store-bought caramel sauce (seasoned with an extra hit of salt) makes for a decent stand-in.


Fluffernutter Marshmallows (printer friendly/pdf)

Homemade Oreo (left) and fluffernutter marshmallows (right.) (Jesse Costa/Here & Now)

Makes: 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch mallows

THE MALLOWING
1 batch Classic Vanilla batter
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter*
1/2 cup Classic Coating, plus more for dusting

Shauna’s Note: For the best consistency, go with a commercial peanut butter, like Skippy. We’re making marshmallow here, people. Not really the appropriate time for the natural stuff.

Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

WHIP UP A BATCH of Classic Vanilla batter. Place the peanut butter in a medium bowl. Working quickly, scoop about a quarter of the batter into a bowl with the peanut butter. Stir until well blended. Scrape this peanut butter marshmallow back into the bowl with the vanilla batter, and, using a large spatula and a figure-eight motion, fold and swirl the two batters together. Pour it into the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to smooth it into the corners. Sift coating evenly over top. Let set for 6 hours in a cool, dry place.

Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut into pieces and dip the sticky edges in more coating, patting off the excess.


Classic Coating (pdf/printer friendly)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup cornstarch or potato starch

Directions:
Sift the ingredients together in a large bowl or combine them in a food processor.

Shauna’s Note: You can also use plain cornstarch or potato starch. Coatings are a great way to add flavor and texture and to personalize your mallows. When the basic coating is made, scoop out what you need for a recipe and add a myriad of flavors using a whisk (or food processor for ingredients that need to be finely ground).

Recipes taken from “Marshmallow Madness!” by Shauna Sever, Copyright (c) 2012 by Shauna Sever. 

Guests:

  • Shauna Sever, author
  • Jamie Wolpert, Here & Now official marshmallow tester, age 9 from Westford, Massachusetts
  • Sammy Haines, Here & Now official marshmallow tester, age 10, from Belmont, Massachusetts

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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