Makes about 80.

Note: Don't let the length of the recipe fool you; this is a fairly simple (and pretty foolproof) recipe. Lots of details are provided, to keep you on track through steps that aren't difficult but might be unfamiliar (be sure to read the hints, below). A number of other approaches were tested; this is the best. For peppermint marshmallows, substitute 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon peppermint flavoring. From Al Sicherman; first published in Taste on Feb. 3, 2005.

• 13/4 c. granulated sugar

• 11/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. water, divided

• 1 c. light corn syrup

• 3 (1/4 -oz.) envelopes unflavored gelatin

• 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

• 1 c. (about) powdered sugar, and more for dusting

• 1/2 c. (about) cornstarch


Lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch pan and sprinkle it with a little powdered sugar. In a saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water and the corn syrup. Stir gently, just to wet all the sugar. Cover and bring to a boil without further stirring. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat without stirring to 240 degrees.

When the syrup has started to boil, put the remaining 1/2 cup of cold water in the large bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle the gelatin over it, stir to wet any lumps of gelatin and let it soften at least a minute.

Slowly pour the 240-degree syrup into the gelatin mixture, beating it in at low speed. (Be sure to see hints below about pouring the hot syrup.) Once all the syrup has been added, increase the mixer speed to high and beat, scraping the bowl frequently. When the mixture becomes opaque and begins to thicken, add the vanilla.

Continue beating at high speed, scraping frequently and stopping occasionally to check the thickness of the mixture. When it is properly thickened, pour and scrape it into the prepared pan, and set it aside 2 hours or more, until it is fully cooled.

Run a table knife around all four sides to loosen. Sift a little powdered sugar over the top, and also over a sheet of waxed paper on the countertop.

Invert the pan onto the waxed paper, slap it on the bottom and lift one side of the pan. If the marshmallow isn't easing itself out, pry at a corner with a table knife, working along and under until it starts to come out.

Dust what's now the top with a little more powdered sugar. Combine the cup of powdered sugar and the 1/2 cup of cornstarch in a shallow bowl.

Oil a knife (or, better, a pizza cutter or kitchen shears) and slice the marshmallow crosswise into 10 strips, cleaning and re-oiling the cutter as needed. Cut one strip into 8 pieces, and toss them in the powdered sugar mixture to coat all sides, then shake off excess in a sieve or colander. Repeat with remaining strips. Store wrapped or covered.

Marshmallow-making hints

• Unless you're an old hand at candymaking and you know the soft-ball test like the back of your hand, you'll need a candy thermometer for the basic marshmallow recipe. They're inexpensive -- $4 or $5 at any supermarket.

• As in any candymaking: When bringing the syrup mixture to a boil, you can uncover the pan to see how it's doing, but cover it again until it's boiling rapidly. Keeping it covered at that early stage allows water vapor to condense on the sides of the pan and "wash" away any sugar crystals that might cause the syrup to be grainy.

• The hot syrup shouldn't be poured against the side of the bowl nor into the beaters, only into the mixture in the bowl, so: If using a stand mixer with a stationary bowl and a beater that orbits around, add syrup a little at a time with the mixer off, then beat it in and stop again before each addition. If using an older stand mixer or a hand mixer, add the syrup slowly while beating at low speed, turning the bowl occasionally, but keeping the stream of syrup away from the beaters.

• Once everything is in the bowl and you're beating it at high speed, turn and scrape the bowl constantly if using a hand or older stand mixture, or stop frequently to scrape the bowl if using a newer orbiting-beater mixer. If using a hand mixer, stop occasionally to allow the motor to cool (or it could burn out).

• Beating the final mixture will take between five and 15 minutes, depending on the mixer. It should be very thick: When the beaters or spatula are raised, it should form peaks (but they will collapse). The batter should come off the beaters in a thick ribbon that folds on itself a couple of times before dissolving into the surface. (You'll know it when you see it: When a spatula pushes batter away from the side of the bowl it should fill back in only slowly.)

• Keep finished marshmallows covered. They tend to stick together, so store them not piled up but fairly flat, maybe in a large pan (dusted first with the powder mixture), and tightly covered.