My son loves marshmallows. My husband loves marshmallows. I, however, could never eat another marshmallow in my entire life and be perfectly happy. I’m not a super-sweet-and-only-sweet-kinda-eater so marshmallows for me are not on my list. I do always keep them on hand because I think a child’s cup of hot chocolate is never complete without at least 5 marshmallows, and when it comes to kid-friendly, easy, summertime picnic sweets, Rice Krispies treats are pretty hard to resist. That, and did I mention that both my boys really love them?
I’ve never made my own marshmallows before, but have heard it’s possible and not entirely too difficult. Usually you’re using corn syrup and need a candy thermometer for precise temperature monitoring, but I’ve recently discovered that if you replace the sugar and corn syrup with Agave Nectar, you don’t have to bother with any of that science stuff…(right up my alley). Agave nectar, if you aren’t familiar with it, comes from the agave plant (similar in appearance to a cactus) that is typically found in Southern Mexico. Agave nectar has a very long shelf life and does not crystallize like honey, so it’s a great thing to keep around for sweetening your oatmeal, tea, or even as a healthier substitute for simple syrup in cocktails.
So I used Agave Nectar for my first attempt at homemade marshmallows, and I was really surprised at how easy these were to make. They tasted and felt just like the real thing, and I feel a little bit better about my boys chowing down on them. Here’s what I did…
Before you begin, fill your stand mixer bowl with some hot water and place the whisk attachment inside. Allow both items to become warm so when you add your dissolved gelatin mixture, it will not clump. In a microwave-safe cup, stir 2 packages of plain gelatin into 6 TB of water, microwave this on high for 30-40 seconds until fully dissolved and liquefied, (be sure to check it after 30 seconds, as this mixture can bubble up and overflow quite easily in your microwave. And that is a pain to clean up, trust me). Place the dissolved gelatin mixture in your now warm (and dried off) standing mixer along with 1 cup of light or amber Agave Nectar (the amber, pictured above, just makes a darker colored marshmallow, but honestly doesn’t change the flavor all that much). Add to the mixer, 1/4 tsp of kosher salt and a good splash of vanilla extract.
It’s always good to have a helper…
Once the mixture resembles marshmallow fluff, spray cooking spray onto a pan and cover it with flour, shaking out the excess. (The smaller your pan, the thicker your marshmallows will be. If you want large marshmallows, like the ones I pictured at the top of the page, use a 9×9 inch dish. If you want smaller, ‘mini’ marshmallows, use a 9×13). Pour/spread your fluff evenly onto the cookie sheet. Use a wet spatula to help you spread. Allow this mixture to set at room temperature for a couple hours, or overnight is fine too.
When the fluff has solidified enough to where you feel it can be sliced, (it will still be tacky), run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan, then invert your pan onto a floured surface and tap the bottom to release your marshmallows block.
With a pizza cutter dipped in flour, slice your marshmallows into squares.
If you plan on making something like a Rice Krispies treat with these, I recommend slicing them into very small pieces and tossing them in plenty of corn or tapoica starch to more resemble the store-bought mini marshmallow and help bind your treats.
Store these in an airtight container at room temperature for as long as they last around your house.
Use them however you would normally use marshmallows…in your hot chocolate, in a Rice Krispies treat, as a sweet snack…
Or sometimes the best way to enjoy them is the simplest way only a 3 year old could come up with….