Texas Living

The Magic of Homemade Marshmallows

By Celia Bryan-Brown 11.12.18

Few people realize that marshmallows are actually plants. They come from a type of mallow that grows to more than 6 feet tall in the salty marshes of Asia and Europe. The plant’s sap has been used for millennia for a variety of healing purposes, supposedly curing everything from sore throats to upset stomachs. And while the candy today might not be the healthiest thing to eat, there’s still something curative about homemade marshmallow.

Pillowy, soft, and melt-in-your-mouth, these are a world away from store-bought. They’re also one of the easiest candies to make, requiring no special equipment except a sugar thermometer. That means they can be fun for the whole family (as long as you keep the little ones away from the boiling sugar-syrup process).

Ancient Egyptians were the first to use mallow root to make sweets, blending the sap with nuts and honey. However, it was 17th-century France that inspired something recognizably like our modern marshmallows. Shopkeepers discovered that whipping mallow root with corn syrup and egg white created a malleable, sweet substance. When American innovators discovered they could substitute gelatin for mallow, the marshmallow as we know it today was born. Now, it’s all about sprinklings of flavors and swirls of ingenuity.

Pumpkin Spice

Start easy. Play with this cold-weather classic by sprinkling in a couple of generous pinches of spices — nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves — to the powdered sugar you use to dust the marshmallows. Adorn cappuccinos liberally. Try this recipe for your basic marshmallow.

Photo by Catherine Downes

Maple Pecan

For a truly divine taste of Texas, try adding pecans to your blend and upgrading the corn syrup to maple syrup. Your homemade marshmallows will have a softer texture, but they’ll be just as delicious. Just pop them into your mug of cocoa before they melt. Try this recipe.

Apple Cinnamon

There’s nothing cozier than the smell of baking apples wafting throughout the house. If you have a little left over from your kitchen adventures, try adding a few drops of apple juice to your marshmallow mix. Sprinkle in some cinnamon and you’ll have a moreish treat that’s impossible to resist. Try this recipe.

High Tea

Tea infusions are a brilliant way to make delicately scented marshmallow. Emulate a British tea service by adding the lovely bergamot flavor of Earl Grey and consume alongside a pot of fresh tea. Try this recipe.

Photo by Catherine Downes

Chai Latte

This is a fun one. Like opening a tea bag into your mix, this technique allows the warming notes and soft spice of chai to seep into a sugary and subtle marshmallow. Perfect to top off a real chai latte, with a cinnamon or ginger cookie on the side. Try this recipe.

Grapefruit and Salted Dark Chocolate

These are incredible to look at as well as to eat, and are really worthy of gift-wrapping. The tangy citrus and the bitter salt of the chocolate make these homemade marshmallows really special. They look delectable tucked into cellophane bags and decorated with festive ribbons. Guests (or hosts) will love them as gifts. Try this recipe.

For more festive ideas and cozy kitchen projects, check out these enchanting tablescapes or wonderful, wild backyard jellies.

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