Whether you like it with its cloud-like softness or its gooey sweetness, there’s just something about marshmallows that touches on our inner child. Memories of roasting them during campfires, using them as toppings in our hot chocolate, or having these as snacks immediately come to mind. But aside from being just a sweet treat, there is a lot more to discover about this pillowy goodness!
- Marshmallows, as well as its name, actually originated from a plant! They were originally made from the mallow plant, or the Athaea Officinalis, that usually grew wild in marshes. Hence, the name.
- The earliest incarnations of marshmallows are traced back to 2000 B.C. Ancient Egyptians were said to have enjoyed this certain gooey treat, derived from the sap of the mallow plant, mixed with nuts and honey. But this snack was reserved only for the nobility and gods.
- Then in the 1800s, the French made their version by whipping the sap of the mallow plant into a candy mold. However, it was a time-consuming process done by hand. Towards the latter 1800s, they discovered that gelatin can be used in place of the mallow sap, and they used modified cornstarch as molds.
- Alex Doumak revolutionized the process in 1948, when he patented his extrusion process where the ingredients are passed through tubes and are then cut and packaged into equal pieces.
- August 30 is the National Toasted Marshmallow Day!
Marshmallow Buying Guide
Marshmallows are conveniently available in any supermarket and grocery, as well as in dessert or confectionery shops. According to several articles on the Internet, marshmallows are such big hit especially to Americans who buy about 90 million pounds of marshmallows each year! Ligonier in Indiana’s Noble County is also said to be the marshmallow capital of the world and the home of the Annual Marshmallow Festival.
Marshmallow Production & Farming in Texas
Aside from the usual store-bought kinds, dessert shops are convenient sources of marshmallows. It is also important to note that gourmet marshmallow producers have also sprouted in Texas, offering non-GMO, no high fructose corn syrup, organic, handcrafted, and healthier marshmallow options! Great for those who can’t resist but conscious about their health and sugar intake!
Preservatives, Additives, and Chemicals
As a general rule, anything sweet must of course be consumed moderately. But if you just can’t resist marshmallows, make sure to look for brands and makers that are all-natural and do not use so many sweeteners or artificial ingredients such as:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – The HFCS is an artificial sugar that is made from corn syrup. Commercial producers of products usually use this, as the HFCS is a cheaper substitute to natural sweeteners. But overconsumption of items with this ingredient can be linked to several serious health issues such as diabetes, obesity, fatty liver, and heart disease.
- Artificial Food Color – These make the food colors pop and look so much brighter and appetizing. However, there are some food colors and food dyes that have been banned from some countries as research findings have highlighted them to cause allergic reactions, tumors, and cancers.
Marshmallows must be packed in tightly sealed plastics and pouches. This is to avoid contamination from any air or moisture that will surely compromise the marshmallow’s quality! Nothing worse in seeing a sticky marshmallow before you even eat it!
Do we need any guide as to how to best enjoy marshmallows? Because we can just drum up a loooot of ways to eat it! Put it on top of a cup of hot chocolate as a comfort drink. And of course, s’mores! This has to be the most popular snack using marshmallows! Have them during camping trips or even backyard parties, while gathered around a pit or campfire! If you want a no-fuss snack, grab a pack and have that sugar boost!
Aside from those usual options, many dessert producers have also created their marshmallow snack variations, from marshmallow pops, bars, and desserts to marshmallow coffee and even marshmallow martini and cocktails!
Marshmallows should be kept in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness. But if it does get sticky after some time, it is suggested to sprinkle cornstarch on the marshmallows evenly to fix that!
The Food Network’s Alton Brown shares the recipe on how to make marshmallows right from your own home! It will take quite a few steps and ingredients, but something this sweet and good is definitely worth it!
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup ice-cold water
- 12 ounces or about 1 ½ cups) granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Nonstick spray
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the gelatin along with ½ cup of the water.
- Then in a saucepan, combine the other half cup of water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover then place a candy thermometer. Continue to cook until the mixture’s temperature reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit. This will take about 7 to 8 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat.
- Using the whisk attachment, turn on the mixer on low speed. While the mixer is running, pour the sugar syrup slowly into the gelatin mixture. Increase the speed to high once all the syrup has been added.
- Continue whipping for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the mixture becomes very thick and lukewarm. Add the vanilla on the last minute of whipping.
- While the mixture is being whipped, combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.
- Take a 13×9 inch metal baking pan and lightly spray it with a nonstick cooking spray. Completely coat the bottoms and sides of the pan with the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Save any remaining mixture for later use.
- Get the whipped mixture and pour it onto the coated baking pan and spread it evenly. Using the confectioners’ sugar mixture, dust and lightly cover the whipped mixture. Let sit uncovered for at least 4 hours to overnight.
- Turn the marshmallows into a cutting board. Using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture, cut it into 1-inch squares. Again, dust all sides of each marshmallow piece with the powder mixture.