It’s crazy how things that seemed impossible to comprehend as a kid suddenly become understandable and doable when you get older. For me, marshmallows held one of the highest positions of enigma. Lucky charms, marshmallows, and moon pies were amazingly delicious, but what was in them? The lesson for today is how to make marshmallows without corn syrup. And while we’re at it we’ll make them chocolate.
Marshmallows are air-whipped, gelatin based candies. Thus we have to approach them as candy. This also offers a clue into how to avoid using corn syrup. When I looked online for corn syrup- free marshmallow recipes, for some reason, people used condensed milk as a substitute. This may work, but it’s not a real substitute. Consider the purpose of corn syrup in candy. Corn syrup is made of glucose and fructose monosaccharides. Its purpose is to interfere with the ability of the sucrose (table sugar) molecules in candy to recrystallize. Basically, it stops the marshmallows from becoming hard-candy.
If we want to replace corn syrup, all we have to do is break table sugar down into its components (sucrose= fructose+ glucose). This may sound complex, but all it takes is to add an acid into the boiling sugar-water mixture. This is why most caramel recipes call for cream of tartar, although you could also use lemon juice or vinegar if you don’t have it.
Now comes the challenge of optimally getting the chocolate flavor into the marshmallows. This is also pretty easy. We just need to add cocoa powder directly into the water-sugar mixture as well. Because cocoa powder is a starch, it needs high heat to gelatinize and incorporate into whatever it is added to. Don’t worry about it burning, starches don’t burn unless they reach very high heats (carmelization). Pretty straightforward right?
All of these modifications are included in the recipe. Enjoy!
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/4 cup cold water, divided
2 ½ cup of sugar
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar (1 tbs of lemon juice should work as well)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup of cocoa powder
- Place the gelatin into the bowl of a large stand mixer with 1/2 cup of the water.
- In a small saucepan combine the remaining 3/4 cup water, granulated sugar, cream of tartar, cocoa powder and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to boil come to a boil for about a minute. (When the mixture begins boiling watch the pot, it may overflow.
- Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
- Turn the stand mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
- Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cocoa powder mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
- When ready, pour the fluffed sugar mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
- Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into desired sized squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.