Thursday 21 June 2012

Book review and homemade vanilla marshmallows

Have you ever thought about making your own marshmallows? No? Well me neither ... until now. I always thought it was difficult to make but it's really quite simple armed with a good recipe and instructions, a few bits of equipment and ingredients.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of marshmallows but I really wanted to try making my own. Since I've started baking and developing my baking skills, I really enjoy making things from scratch at home. The perfect opportunity arose when I was asked to review this book 'Marshmallow Madness!' by Shauna Sever. You can read more about the author here.

I LOVE the cover of this book. It's really pretty and colourful and it's puffy like a marshmallow! Yes it's soft and squidgy just like a real marshmallow :)

The book itself is divided into :

Introduction - do NOT skip reading this part. It contains really helpful and useful information on making marshmallows. It is clearly set out and divides the process into 3 key steps which are colour coded in each recipe - the bloom, the syrup and the mallowing.

The classics - vanilla and chocolate marshmallows. See below for my attempt at vanilla marshmallows. There's also a recipe for malt chocolate marshmallow (yes please!) and homemade marshmallow creme and homemade graham crackers - definitely on my to bake list.

Fresh and Fruity - adding twists of flavour with fruit puree, juices and oils. The strawberry marshmallows and key lime pie are on the to make list.

Happy Hour - cocktail inspired marshmallows.  Margarita and creme de menthe look delicious!

For the Mallow Connoisseur - gourmet flavours and textures. Examples are maple bacon (?), sea salt caramel swirl (yum) and mango-chile-lime (interesting)

Kids in a Candy Store - my favourites are root beer float and bubble gum.

Fluffy, Puffy Desserts - This is a great section of desserts with marshmallows. Recipes that have caught my eye are ambrosia cake, s'more supcakes (always wanted to make one), minty mallow cookie sandwiches.

Desserts made drinkable - Drinkable desserts with marshmallow pairing suggestions.

The book consists of 94 pages excluding the index. It's got lots of lovely pictures which is always a plus point in my book. The recipes are clearly set out, usually on one page. There is a list of ingredients divided according to the steps required (the bloom, the syrup, the mallowing) I really like that the steps are colour coded so it's easy to follow. The measurements are given in American cups.

My verdict: I really liked the book and would have been happy to buy this book. It's well written, beautifully set out and has a good variety of recipes from the simple and classic to more complicated ones. There are also desserts and drinks which is a bonus. It's definitely changed my mind about marshmallows as homemade marshmallows taste quite different to commercial ones and they are not that difficult to make at home! They were also quite fun to make - I loved watching the mallowing process :)

I have a copy of this book to giveaway so check back next week for a chance to win your own copy! 

I was given the choice of a few recipes by the publisher but as it's my first time making marshmallows, I decided to keep it simple and go for the classic vanilla marshmallow. They were surprisingly easy to make but you do need to have a stand mixer and thermometer to make these. The end result was amazing - they were really soft and puffy and you can really taste the vanilla. I made it for a friend's birthday and she was beyond delighted with these! :)

 The original recipe says to use corn syrup but golden syrup is an acceptable alternative and it worked well for me. 

 boil the sugar, golden syrup and water. You need a thermometer for this. 

 The mallowing process - I honestly thought how can this become marshmallows? 

 10 minutes later... yes it looks like marshmallows!

 adding the fresh vanilla seeds 

 leave to set

 dust with classic coating 

 ready to slice - Shauna recommends using a pizza cutter- brilliant idea!! 

 I made these for a friend's birthday and found this cute box from Paperchase. 

 who wants a piece? 

 I also packaged them in little gift bags - they make great gifts! 

Recipe from Marshmallow Madness! by Shauna Sever - reproduced with permission from the publisher. The recipe is also available on the author's blog

Classic Vanilla Marshmallows
Makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch mallows

To make Classic Coating for these (and any other marshmallow, for that matter) simply combine 1 1/2 parts confectioners’ sugar and 1 part cornstarch or potato starch. You can whisk or sift them together, or take them for a quick whir in the food processor. Make a couple cups at a time and store in an airtight container for months on end.

The Bloom:
4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

The Syrup:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided - you can use golden syrup as a substitute
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt

The Mallowing:
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract - I used seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1/2 cup Classic Coating (see note), 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..
Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge to review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

As this recipe involves making marshmallows from scratch, I'm entering them to Made with love Mondays hosted by Javelin Warrior.


  1. What an amazing gift idea! It looks so cute in the little box, no wonder your friend loved it.

    I would love make these one day.... when I have a stand mixer *sighs*

    1. They really do make the perfect gift! I'm not sure if you can whip the marshmallows by hand - it might work with an electric whisk but it would be hard work!

  2. These step by step pictures are so helpful! I want a bag! :)

  3. Now I have no excuse NOT to make these because you've shown me once again how to be fearless in the kitchen! Love this and so glad you decided to share!

    1. Thanks JW! I'm so glad I tried making these myself - I'm sure it won't be the last time :)

  4. Homemade marshmallow look amazing. Such a fun idea.

    1. They are great fun to make and to eat too! :)

  5. I'm crazy about fresh marshmallows and saw this book at the store a few weeks ago so thank you for this review! The cover immediately caught my eye! :D

    1. It's a lovely book and the cover is really cool! Fresh marshmallows tastes soooo much better than commercial ones.

  6. Lovely gift idea! Now you've inspired me to try this :D

  7. These sound fab! So glad you can use golden syrup as a substitute.. corn syrup is difficult to find in the UK!

    1. Corn syrup is difficult to track down and it's expensive! Golden syrup worked well for me so I'm definitely making these again :)

  8. Wow, I bet your marshmallows taste so much better than shop bought. Using golden syrup sounds like a good idea. Now I need a thermometer! Your photos are so useful, can't believe the transformation process :-)x

    1. Homemade ones taste sooo much better!! It's really fun making them and watching the marshmallow form.

  9. I'm glad you did this post, because I saw a similar one on Bakerella, but it just mentioned corn syrup and I sort of just wrote it off as one of those things I would never make. but if you used golden syrup, then I am def going to give that a try. they look delicious. any plans to make any of the other flavours?

    1. I saw that post on bakerella too :) Golden syrup definitely works. I want to try so many flavours - some of the ones I've listed above from the different chapters and the desserts. Stay tuned as I'm sure they will be featured here at some point :)

  10. These look amazing - how long do they keep for once made? I'm thinking they'd make fab christmas pressies but don't fancy the christmas eve baking hastle if they need to be fresh.

    1. I think they keep for quite a while - My friend was still eating hers a week later and it was fine. Just need to store in a cool and dry place. Definitely be good Christmas gifts to make in advance. You could make them red and green! :)

  11. WOW, I simply looooooove your blog :D
    I just can't get enough of all these yummy recipes. The only thing that would be better is a button of "Taste" or "Have a bite", lol, just a wish..

    Have a fabulous day, xx

    1. Thanks LoLy! I do wish you could have a taste :)

  12. What tasty looking marshmallows!

  13. Wow! I've always been interested in making my own marshmallows, especially to go with some hot chocolates. That book sounds incredible!

    1. I'd definitely recommend the book if you want to make your own marshmallows :)

  14. Well done you, the marshmallows look perfect. I was given a copy of the book to review too, but it's been sitting in my to do pile for ages. Principally because I have neither a thermometer nor a stand mixer - oops!

    1. Thanks! I was so pleased with how they turned out. Hmm... would be tricky without a thermometer or stand mixer!

  15. OOh WOW!!!!! this looks amazing! Ive always wanted to give marshmallows a go :) x x

    1. It's surprisingly easy to make and absolutely delicious- do try it! x

  16. This books look great! I would ove to make marshmallows so I will be lookign this one up as I have prbably missed the comp as I am always behind with my blog reading!

    1. It's a really good book. Good news - you haven't missed the giveaway - I've been so behind with my blogging it will probably be next week now so do check back later. It will be open for a few weeks so plenty of time to enter :)


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