Peppermint Marshmallows

The past two weeks have been dreadfully cold, as winter fully sets in up here in the North. The air is so chilled that it seems to take one's breath away, burning down the windpipe fiercely. Everyone scurries around from place to place to do last minute shopping, bundled up from head to toe in coats and scarves and mittens until nothing but red cheeks are showing. Fashion has given way to practicality. Though the wind is fierce, the earth's thick coat of white is beautiful enough to make up for winter's ferocity, at least in part.

A few degrees of warmth might make the ice and snow a bit more tolerable.

With all of the below zero temperatures, I have spent my time indoors, cuddled up with a hot cup of tea and an overdone holiday movie. When I have a spare bit of time, I like to find an excuse to turn on the oven, whether making a batch of my boyfriend's favorite cookies or finding an excuse to treat my coworkers.

Last weekend, I had it in my head that I would make a batch of gourmet peppermint marshmallows for the holidays. Midway through the recipe, as the sugar was wildly boiling, I came to the unfortunate realization that my candy thermometer was broken. After trying to salvage the recipe, with the sugar certainly overcooked, I ended up throwing it entirely into the trash bin.

I have never come across a recipe for marshmallows that did not require a candy thermometer. In fact, the vanilla bean marshmallows I shared with you earlier this year is one of the few recipes where I insisted you needed one. However, suddenly candy thermometer-less and with no less of a desire to make marshmallows, I began the search for a recipe that didn't require one. And find one, I did.

With a red swirl and drizzle of dark chocolate, these Peppermint Marshmallows exceeded my expectations. While they are glorious on their own, I wholeheartedly suggest adding them to a mug of hot chocolate for a moment of divinity.

These Peppermint Marshmallows are easier to prepare and less fussy than other marshmallow recipes. The addition of extra gelatin ensures that the marshmallows will set without the worry of boiling sugar to a specific temperature (as there is with traditional marshmallows). Red food coloring is dropped on top and swirled with a toothpick before the marshmallows have a chance to set. Drizzled with dark chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes, the marshmallows are elevated so that they could be given as a holiday gift or served at a holiday party.

One Year Ago: Persimmon Cake, Lemon Cranberry Scones, and Chocolate Pomegranate Tart
Two Years Ago: Cranberry White Chocolate Tarts, Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Soup, and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Espresso Pots de Creme, Blueberry Brownies, and White Chocolate Saffron Truffles

Peppermint Marshmallows
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Yields 16 large marshmallows

3 1/4-ounce packages (7 grams) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup (120 ml) cold water
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (155 ml) light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red food coloring
Non-stick cooking spray
1/4 cup (30 grams) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Dark chocolate, melted

Lightly spray a 9 x 9-inch pan and line with plastic wrap; this will make the marshmallows easier to remove from the pan. Lightly spray the plastic wrap to make the marshmallows easier to remove.

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over the cold water and whisk together. Allow to set for 5-10 minutes for the gelatin to "bloom" or activate.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. As soon as the sugar begins to boil rapidly, set a timer for 1 minute. As soon as the minute is up, remove the mixture from heat.

Immediately start mixing the gelatin mixture on medium speed and pour the hot sugar mixture down the sides of the bowl. Once combined, add the salt and turn the mixer up to a high speed. Continue mixing for 10 minutes. The marshmallow mixture should turn white and fluffy. Add the peppermint and vanilla extract. Continue mixing for an additional 2 minutes to combine.

Spread the marshmallows into the prepared pan; it will be sticky. Add several small drops of red food coloring over the top and, using a toothpick, swirl the food coloring.

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Spread over the top of the marshmallows and allow them to rest for at least 3 hours to solidify.

To cut, flip the marshmallows onto a cutting board covered in a light layer of the powdered sugar mixture. Spray a large sharp knife with cooking spray and cut the marshmallows into 16 squares, spraying the knife after each cut. Coat the marshmallows in the powdered sugar mixture to keep them from being sticky. Pat or brush off the excess sugar.

If desired, drizzle melted chocolate over the top of the marshmallows and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes for the chocolate to set.

The marshmallows will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days. If you are making these in advance or want to keep them around for a season, freeze the marshmallows to keep them fresh and take them out as needed.