Homemade marshmallows are definitely one of my favorite candies. Unlike store-bought marshmallows, they are like little clouds of sweetness that are soft, tender and melt in your mouth. They are easy to eat, go perfectly with coffee, flavored coffee drinks and hot chocolate, and are ideal for making s'mores. They are also surprisingly easy to make, and very impressive when you bring them out to serve to friends or family. The only real drawback is that you really need a stand mixer to make them, as it allows you to keep your hands free while you're working and has a very large whisk (as opposed to the beaters of a hand-held mixer) that does the job quickly and efficiently.
I really recommend using vanilla bean paste or vanilla bean crush instead of plain vanilla extract because the tiny bean specks really look fantastic in the finished candy. Read on for the recipe, which I have made and enjoyed countless times:
.75-oz unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes of Knox gelatin)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Line 9 x 9-inch pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil it. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and boil hard for 1 minute.
Pour the boiling syrup into soaked gelatin and turn on the mixer, using the whisk attachment, to high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, add in the vanilla extract beat to incorporate.
Scrape marshmallow into the prepared pan and spread evenly (Lightly greasing your hands and the spatula helps a lot here). Take another piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap and press lightly on top of the marshmallow, creating a seal. Let mixture sit for a few hours, or overnight, until cooled and firmly set.
In a shallow dish, combine equal parts cornstarch and confectioners' sugar. Remove marshmallow from pan and cut into equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef's knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners' sugar mixture.
Store in an airtight container.