Actually, these can be any flavor marshmallow you want. We just chose thyme because, uh, we have plans that we’re working on. Yes, we’ll let you know as soon as our plans come to fruition, but, for now, let’s concentrate on scratchin’ out a batch of marshmallows.
We’ve wanted to make marshmallows for years. Yes, years, but until now, we haven’t tried making them. Why? Well, we didn’t know what we’d use them for, and, generally, a batch of marshmallows makes quite a few. Secondly, we’re kind of creeped out by gelatin. Yes, gelatin. (If you’re up for it, research how gelatin’s made and see what you think.) So, we searched for recipes that used agar-agar, instead. Besides, we had some agar-agar sitting in the cupboard from the last time we made Maple Kahlua Tiramisu. We finally decided to test a recipe we’d found on Be Miam.
Most often, marshmallows are made using gelatin, and, if you want to do that, you won’t need the egg whites, so we’d suggest looking for another recipe (we won’t recommend a recipe that we haven’t tested in the Scratchin’ It Kitchens, so you’re on your own). If you don’t want thyme marshmallows, use about 1/2 teaspoon of another flavoring. Peppermint would be good, and the classic is vanilla, of course. Finally, we say it here (and you should say it, too), and we’ll repeat it below: “When cutting marshmallows, confectioners’ sugar is my best friend.” Say it again: “When cutting marshmallows, confectioners’ sugar is my best friend.”
Procedure in detail:
Check humidity. You’ll be drying the marshmallow, which won’t work well if it’s humid, so wait for a dry day before attempting this recipe. Why court a sticky disaster?
Line pan. Okay, the marshmallow will be sticky. Very sticky, so line a pan with baking parchment, or, you could try waxed paper, which should help some, but parchment will be better.
Crush thyme. Place the thyme in a small bowl, and rub and crush it between your fingers until it’s thyme dust. You don’t want those little sharp leaves to jab someone in the gum as they eat a marshmallow. Of course, if you’re making a different flavor, you can skip this step.
Bloom agar-agar. We’re not sure if this is necessary, but we did it, anyway. Measure the water into a small saucepan and sprinkle the agar-agar over the water. Let stand for about 30 minutes, then give it a swirl to incorporate.
Prep egg whites. While the agar-agar is blooming, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. We suggest that you do this now, so that, later, you can easily start whipping the whites when the syrup is almost ready.
Add sugar and honey. Add the sugar and honey to the agar-agar mixture. Honey prevents crystallization while and after you cook the syrup, so don’t omit it. If you don’t have honey, use a bit of corn syrup in its place.
Cook syrup. Place the mixture over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When boiling, insert a thermometer and cook, stirring often, until the syrup reaches 250°F. While this is happening, you’ll have to whip the egg whites. Don’t wait until the syrup is done, or it’ll either cool, or overcook before the egg whites are whipped. Instead, when the syrup reaches about 235°F, start the mixer.
Whip egg whites. Okay, the syrup is bubbling away; you’re holding the saucepan handle with one hand, the thermometer with the other, and stirring with your third hand. With your fourth hand, reach over and start whipping the egg whites. Work the mixer up to high and whip the egg whites until they hold stiff, but shiny, peaks. Ideally, your egg whites will be ready about the same time that the syrup reaches 250°F, but, more likely, the egg whites will be done first. In that case, reduce the mixer to low to hold the egg whites.
Add syrup. The syrup is at 250°F, so turn the mixer back to high, and slowly pour in the syrup. Let the syrup run down the side of the bowl into the egg whites, so it avoids hitting the whisk attachment and slinging sticky hot syrup everywhere. Making confections is not for the inattentive (they end up making trips to the ER), so pay attention. Once you’ve added the syrup, continue whipping on high until the marshmallow cools down somewhat, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add thyme. Stop the mixer (we didn’t, so we lost some thyme), sprinkle the thyme over the marshmallows then use the mixer to incorporate it by whipping on medium for about a minute.
Spread marshmallow. Scrape the marshmallow out of the mixer and onto the parchment-lined pan. Use a spatula to spread it into a layer about 1/2 inch thick, for mini marshmallows. Or, if you want larger marshmallows, spread it about an inch thick.
Dry marshmallow. Let the marshmallow dry for 10 to 12 hours.
Prepare confectioners’ sugar. Place about 1/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar into a large shallow bowl. Keep the bag of confectioners’ sugar handy in case you need more as you work, and prepare yourself to get confectioners sugar strewn around your work area. When it comes time, embrace the mess. For us, this was messy enough that we didn’t take photos of the process.
Cut marshmallows. Remember what we said above? “When cutting marshmallows, confectioners’ sugar is my best friend.” Good. Sprinkle the top of the marshmallow with confectioners’ sugar. Spread it around until the marshmallow doesn’t feel sticky. Peel the marshmallow off the parchment and turn it over onto a piece of waxed paper or parchment, and, remember our saying: “When cutting marshmallows, confectioners’ sugar is my best friend,” while you coat the back of the marshmallow. Now, coat a sharp knife or kitchen shears with confectioners sugar, too. Cut off a strip of marshmallow about 1/2 inch wide, then cut that into pieces 1/2 inch long, dropping them into the bowl of powdered sugar.
Dredge. Use your fingers to toss and roll the marshmallows in the sugar, then lift them out and shake off the excess, spewing a bit of sugar everywhere. (Remember, “When cutting marshmallows, confectioners’ sugar is my best friend.” And, embrace the mess.) When coated, place them in an airtight tin, and work on the remaining marshmallows.
We made marshmallows! Real marshmallows! It’s amazing, but, yes, you can make marshmallows in your kitchen, and they’re great. Now, we mentioned that we made these for something coming up, but we ate a few, and they were delicious, with just enough thyme flavor so that you could taste it, but not so much that it seemed odd. Four stars, because it’s troublesome to clean the syrup pan, and those marshmallows are sticky when you’re trying to cut them.