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How to make marshmallows?

I know this is dumb but I can't seem to get any marshmallow recipe to work. I've used fresh ingredients and tried three recipes (Better than store bought, Time Life The Good Cook, and the ATK video) and nothing seems to work. I make excellent marshmallow cream but nothing ever fluffs into marshmallows. I use a Kitchenaid professional mixer with a stainless steel bowl. Is that my issue? Should I beat at high speed using a copper or glass bowl? I have a number of vulgar jokes about being a failed fluffer but am refraining as this is a family friendly site. This has actually pierced the veneer of my patience and begun to tick me off. Please help.

Comments

  • Hi Joshua - We definitely don't think it's your Kitchenaid mixer or stainless steel bowl. That being said, you do want to make sure your bowl is clean and free of any remnants of fat or grease. A quick wipe with lemon juice or vinegar will remedy that issue. Other than that, here are some other possible troubleshooting areas:

    1. Are you temping your sugar syrup? If so, it should be at 240 degrees before adding it to the gelatin in the mixer. You might want to calibrate your thermometer to make sure it's working properly. Even a degree or two off could cause the marshmallows to resist setting up.
    2. Under-whipping the egg white-sugar-gelatin mixture is probably the most common issue. You want to whip the eggs until the bowl is just warm to the touch and the mixture holds a soft shape before falling back onto itself when you pull up the whisk attachment.
    3. Any delays can wreak havoc on candy making. Have all ingredients ready to go and tell your family that you can't be interrupted! Once the sugar syrup is ready it needs to be added to the bowl immediately - you don't want it to cool down too much. Likewise, once the mixture has been whipped fully work quickly to transfer it to the prepared pan.
    4. Weather or climate is another area that can significantly affect candy making and, particularly, meringue or marshmallows. Living in a particularly humid climate, if it's a rainy day, or the temperature of your home (too warm) are all things that can all prevent marshmallows from setting up properly. Milk Street is located in the Northeast and we find there are many days that just aren't great candy making days in our climate.

    Hopefully reviewing some of these tips will help you identify where you think things aren't working properly. Good luck and let us know how it turns out next time! Best, The Milk Street Team

  • Follow up! After half a bottle of pinot noir I worked up some courage and tried again. I think I found the failure point. After 7 minutes of high speed whisking my kitchenaid changed noises and speed on its own and then the mix began collapsing on itself. I'm at a crossroads, is the outlet it was plugged into too low in amperage or is the mixer defective? I suppose more experiments are in order. Anyway, thank you for the detailed advice. I have one last question. This started because I went to a candy store which specialized in vintage candy. They sold marshmallows there and said that the original flavor was based on mallow plant extract. I'm also an avid gardener and married to a chemist. Is it worth trying to grow mallow and extract (stuff?) From it to attempt making authentic marshmallows? Thanks Lynn and you're a Saint for being patient with my weird cooking questions.

  • Hi Joshua -

    I'm not entirely sure what is going on with your mixer. I've mixed some pretty thick bread doughs for at least 10 minutes in my (very old) Kitchenaid and haven't ever had an issue with speed changes. I would probably contact Kitchenaid and ask them to troubleshoot. Meringue is pretty light and isn't really that taxing on a mixer so it probably shouldn't cause any technical issues with your mixer.

    As for growing a mallow plant and using the root to make marshmallows, I would probably hold off on that until you feel more confident in making marshmallows with gelatin, since the mallow root would technically be a substitute for that. Mallow root was used to make marshmallow, or something similarly sticky, before gelatin (and would be good for a vegetarian/vegan version as well) because it contains mucilage, a natural thickening agent. The actual flavor is pretty bland - mildly sweet and earthy but nothing that would necessarily add much to your marshmallows, so probably not worth it for solely making an infusion or extract.

    Best,

    Lynn C.

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