Marshmallows are, hands down, one of my favorite things to make at home. Try them once, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find even a trace of relation between the homemade version and the waxy, deflated ones you find at the grocery store. Don’t get me wrong, each has its place in the sun, and I will gladly toast store bought marshmallows into melty submission over an open campfire for the sake of s’mores, but for all other purposes, homemade takes the cake.
For most of my life, the creation of the marshmallow was shrouded in mystery. I mean, they’re fluffy, they’re intensely sweet, but what exactly is a marshmallow? I’m here to tell you that I’ve conducted the research, and the recipe itself, as well as the process are actually quite simple. Water, sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and a little elbow grease are all one really needs to produce these fluffy little clouds of candy. Sure, things might get a little messy, but the end result is more than worth the sticky fingers.
For this version, I infused a traditional recipe with bright pink hibiscus tea made from a simple combination of dried hibiscus flowers steeped in water. The hibiscus not only lends these marshmallows a perfectly pink hue fit for welcoming summer’s tropical vibe, but also an earthy, tart flavor that is subtle yet present enough to cut through the powerful sweetness of the sugar. They’re a perfect snack-sized dessert all on their own, but would make one heck of a s’more when paired with white chocolate and lime zest (or even roasted strawberries), should you be feeling a little fancy.
Note that this recipe includes a not-so-secret ingredient: egg whites. The addition of beaten egg whites to the marshmallow just before the setting phase is the key to producing the bounciest, fluffiest marshmallows you’ve ever tasted. If the thought of including raw eggs in your dessert makes you a little squeamish, you can use reconstituted egg whites for a safe alternative. Enjoy!
For the hibiscus marshmallows:
- 1 cup hibiscus tea, chilled (recipe below)
- 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 - 1 cup confectioners' sugar
For the hibiscus tea:
- 1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers
- 2 cups water
- For the hibiscus tea: Rinse the dried hibiscus flowers and drain. Heat the water in a medium saucepan until boiling. Add the hibiscus flowers to the water, reduce the heat and let simmer for 2 -3 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let cool for 30 minutes. Strain and chill tea in the refrigerator until cool.
- For the marshmallows: Liberally grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and dust the bottom and sides with confectioners' sugar.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of chilled hibiscus tea and let stand to soften.
- In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of hibiscus tea, granulated sugar, light corn syrup and salt over medium-low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon or nonstick spatula until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat to moderate and boil the mixture without stirring until it registers 240F on a candy or digital thermometer, 10 - 15 minutes depending on the heat of your stove and your pan. Remove from heat and pour over the gelatin mixture, stirring until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
- Begin to beat, carefully working your way up to high speed as the mixture will be hot. Beat on high for 8 - 10 minutes, or until the mixture is glossy and thick. When you lift the beater from the mixer, it should slowly drip back into the bowl in a thick ribbon.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites (or reconstituted powdered egg whites) until they hold stiff peaks. Add the egg whites and vanilla to the marshmallow mixture and beat until just combined.
- Pour the marshmallow mixture into the greased baking dish, using a greased spatula to scrape the bowl and spread the marshmallow into an even layer. Dust the surface with confectioners' sugar and let rest at room temperature for 6 hours, up to overnight.
- When ready to cut the marshmallows, liberally dust a cutting board with confectioners' sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the baking dish, then turn the marshmallow out onto your work surface. You may need to use your hands to pull the marshmallow from the pan. Use a greased pizza cutter or knife to cut the marshmallow into one-and-a half inch squares. Roll cut marshmallow in additional confectioners' sugar to coat all sides then shake off any excess. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.