Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

And now to continue our peppermint fun, I present to you a recipe for HOMEMADE PEPPERMINT MARSHMALLOWS! These are exceptional. They are so good that I willingly spend my days standing over boiling sugar and corn syrup in the name of fresh marshmallows. Not only do they have that oh so perfect made-from-scratch look, but they taste infinitely better than anything you would buy in a store.

You can make these with any flavor extract, but there’s something about the peppermint flavor that puts it over the top. Oh, and they are pink, which also makes them better than regular marshmallows.

Table of contents

How do you make homemade marshmallows?

The marshmallow process is relatively straightforward, but you’ll need to be comfortable using a candy thermometer.

Wait! No! Don’t go!

A candy thermometer is just a regular thermometer designed to clip onto your pot to monitor the temperature of your boiling sugar.

See, you can relax! You’ve got this!

Ok, so, how do you make the marshmallows? First, you boil a sugar mix to a balmy 240 degrees (the soft-ball stage) and then mix that with gelatin in a mixer and…. that’s basically it! No, really. It’s a pretty uninvolved recipe to make something so divine in the end. 

What is the soft-ball stage in candy making?

Ok, this a fun one and I want to share it because I’m kind of obsessed. You may have noticed your candy thermometer has a ton of different stages of temperatures (soft-ball, hard-ball, thread…) There are actually SEVEN stages when making candy. Yes, making marshmallows counts as making candy!

As you heat your sugar mix, the water will boil and evaporate, creating a syrup that gets more concentrated as time goes on. Starting with the lowest temperature, the stages are thread, soft-ball, firm-ball, hard-ball, soft-crack, hard-crack, and caramel. The type of candy you are making will dictate which stage the syrup needs to reach and therefore when you need to remove the syrup from the heat.

For marshmallows, we are looking for the ‘soft-ball’ stage, which is around 235-245°F. I recommend removing your syrup from heat when it reaches 240°F because it’s right in the middle. That seems logical, right?

Ok, so, why is it called the soft-ball stage? This is where it gets fun– because when a bit of syrup is dropped in cold water it… makes a soft, squeezable ball! It’s that simple! You should be able to easily squeeze the syrup into a soft ball while in the water. That same ball should easily flatten once it is removed from the water. If it heats past this point, it will lose this ability. 

What if I don’t have a candy thermometer?

Let me just start this by saying that I highly recommend a candy thermometer when making marshmallows. It’s pretty foolproof because you just clip it on the side of your pot and wait for the temperature to rise. No other thought needed.

Now, having said that. I hear you, non-candy thermometer owning people! Maybe you couldn’t find one and want to make marshmallows right now. Maybe the last thing you want is another kitchen gadget to clutter your drawers. Maybe you can’t find your candy thermometer in said cluttered drawers…

Whatever the reason, no fear! You can make marshmallows using the cold water method to test the temperature of your syrup.

What is the cold water method?

It’s quite simple and pretty much how it sounds– you use cold water to test the temperature of your syrup. For this particular recipe we are looking to get to the ‘soft-ball’ stage of candy making, which is between 235-245°F.

After your syrup has cooked down for a bit and the sugar crystals have dissolved, you’ll want to take a small spoonful of the syrup and drop it straight into a bowl of very cold water. Using your fingers, gather the cooled syrup and try to smush it into a ball. You’ll know you are in the right temperature range if you can easily form a ball in the water and you can easily flatten it once you remove it from the water.

The cold water method requires a bit more patience than a candy thermometer because you may have to check the temperature several times before you get it right. You also have to be really careful when using this method because if you get past the soft-ball temperature range, there is no going back! 

Pro tips for making homemade marshmallows

I have tested a ton of different recipes for homemade marshmallows and made too many batches to count, so I thought it would be useful to share some pro tips I have learned along the way!

  • Make sure to have a ton of butter, coconut oil or other neutral oil on hand. It makes the process a lot easier when the marshmallow fluff doesn’t stick to your spatula like glue. Speaking from experience, of course.
  • You can make these with any flavor extract, but there’s something about the peppermint flavor that puts it over the top. Oh, and they are pink, which also makes them better than regular marshmallows. You can sub the peppermint extract for vanilla extract, butter extract, almond extract… you get the picture. Just replace the same amount with a different flavor.
  • For added color, put a few drops of red food coloring on the top of your marshmallows after pouring them in the prepared pan. Use a toothpick or butter knife to swirl the color around. This will produce a much deeper red in some areas than the lighter pink of this recipe.
  • Use cookie cutters to make shaped marshmallows. If doing this, you’ll want to make sure your marshmallows aren’t taller than your cookie cutters. The 8×8 pan used in this recipe produces a taller marshmallow, so try a 9×13 or wider pan for thinner marshmallows. PS Make sure to grease your cookie cutters before inserting them in the cooled marshmallows.
  • Breathe. It may seem stressful, but making marshmallows is quite an easy process and I have yet to mess it up despite all of my worry.

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallow Recipe

Alright, enough talk. Let’s get down to the recipe! We have listed the ingredients and tools needed. You’ll want to make sure you have everything together before beginning because boiling syrup can get a bit stressful. Best to be prepared!

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups (400g) white sugar
  • ⅓ cup (80g) light corn syrup
  • 1 cup water (240g) – divided
  • 3 packets (.75 oz) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 t peppermint extract
  • 1/8 t table salt
  • Red food coloring gel
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

Tools needed

  • Candy thermometer
  • Sifter for powdered sugar
  • Spatula
  • Stand mixer. A handheld mixer would work in a pinch but a stand mixer makes things a lot easier. 
  • 8×8 pan. If you plan to cut out shapes using cookie cutters, use a wider pan instead. You’ll want the marshmallows thin enough for your cookie cutters to easily go through to the bottom of the pan.
  • Butter knife to loose marshmallows
  • Kitchen knife or sharp cookie cutters

Directions

  1. Prepare your tools: Coat an 8×8 inch pan and spatula with butter, coconut oil or other neutral oil.
  2. Prepare your marshmallow dusting powder: Mix the powdered sugar and cornstarch together and set aside.
  3. Bloom the gelatin: While the syrup is cooking, combine 1/2 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract in your stand mixer’s bowl. Gently sprinkle the gelatin packets on top and stir together. You’ll want to do this while the sugar mixture cooks because the gelatin needs at least ten minutes to bloom.
  4. Combine the ingredients for the syrup: Combine 2 cups sugar, 1/3 cup corn syrup and 1/2 cup water in a small pot. 
  5. Heat the syrup over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, swirling the pot to distribute the ingredients. Don’t stir it, even though you may be tempted! Trust me, it will all melt and come together. The gentle swirling helps with this.
  6. Cover the pot once you reach a slight boil and let the syrup cook for two minutes. The goal here is to full dissolve the sugar crystals. This step also creates steam and condensation, which helps sugar crystals that may be stuck to the side of the pot slide down.
  7. Check to see if the sugar crystals have dissolved. After two minutes, lift the lid to see if the sugar crystals have dissoved. If not, place the lid back on and check again in one minute. Once all of the sugar crystals have dissolved, remove the lid and insert a candy thermometer. Let the mixture cook until it reaches 240°F. This is the soft-ball stage
  8. Remove from heat once the syrup reaches the desired temperature. Allow the bubbles to subside.
  9. Pour the syrup into the gelatin mixture while running the mixer on low with the whisk attachment. Aim for the side of the mixing bowl so that the hot syrup has a chance to cool a bit before mixing with the gelatin. Increase the speed to medium-high after all syrup is added.
  10. Whisk on medium-high speed for 8-10 minutes. The mixture will turn white and triple in volume during this size. It’s amazing! 🙂 Add the salt while it’s mixing. Toward the end, add a few drops of red food coloring. Three to five drops will produce a light pink color.
  11. Scrape the marshmallow base into the prepared pan using your greased spatula.
  12. Dust the top of the marshmallows with your dusting powder from step 2.
  13. Leave it alone! Allow the marshmallows to set for at least 6 hours.
  14. Remove the marshmallows from the pan: Run a greased butter knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the marshmallows. Dust your surface with the dusting powder and then turn the pan over. The marshmallows should wiggle their way out with a gentle shake.
  15. Cut the marshmallows into the desired size with a greased kitchen knife. You could also cut out shapes with cookie cutters during this step.
  16. Dust your marshmallows: Toss your marshmallows in a final coat of the dusting mixture to prevent them from sticking to each other (or to you…)

These marshmallows are great by themselves or in hot chocolate. They also make an amazing gift! 

How do you store homemade marshmallows?

Once your marshmallows have been dusted and you have eaten your fair share, you’ll want to get them packaged in an airtight container pretty quick. They will dry out if they sit out too long, but will keep for up to three weeks if stored properly. 

Whatever you do, don’t refrigerate or freeze your marshmallows! Trust me, you’d be very sad because they would immediately harden and, well, no one likes hard marshmallows!

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