As a child I was thrilled with the plain store-bought marshmallows singed or nearly incinerated over campfire flames or merely floated in cups of hot cocoa. I found marshmallow fluff a wondrous addition to a peanut butter sandwich and marshmallow topping the only suitable garnish for cherry snowballs. I loved the little egg-shaped chocolate-covered marshmallows that came in faux egg cartons and specifically requested them for my Easter basket every year.
About 15 years ago, I first tried my hand at making marshmallows. I really didn’t believe that they could be that much better than store-bought, though people often made that claim. But they were! In fact, they were about as big a step up from the supermarket marshmallows as just-shelled garden peas are from canned peas. Equally surprising, since I could rely on my heavy-duty stand mixer for all the beating, they were the most trouble-free, easy-peasy confection I’d ever made. (Fudge and I, on the other hand, have tussled many times over the years, though we have reconciled in the recipe here.)
I’ve been making homemade marshmallows ever since. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with various flavors, and these raspberry-flavored ones may just be the best I’ve ever created.
Above you can see the marshmallows cut out into bunnies using cookie cutters, then dipped in chocolate. I’ll be handing them out, individually wrapped, to the kids in the family at an Easter brunch. But just cut into squares and served “as is,” as shown at left, or as squares dipped in chocolate they are a special, no make that stupendous, treat! Additionally, they are gluten-free, and if you omit the optional red food color as I always do, they will be dye-free as well. (The pretty light pink of the ones here comes from the naturally colorful frozen fruit juice concentrate that also provides the berry flavor.)
Very Raspberry “Regular” or Bunny-Shaped Marshmallows
Tip: If you’re preparing gourmet-shaped marshmallows instead of square ones, once all are cut out from the marshmallow slab, it’s possible to “recycle” the scraps by combining and rewarming them in a microwave. Do this on 50 percent power for 30 seconds, then stir just enough to blend; extra stirring can cause the mixture to deflate. As necessary, microwave a little more on 50 percent power, checking frequently till the pieces just melt together. Then turn the mixture out into a small square dish that has been coated with non-stick spray and dusted with powered sugar. Let the mixture completely cool and set up again for at least 4 hours before using it. Take care not to overheat the scraps, as this may deflate the marshmallow mixture slightly.Tip: Marshmallows do involve a lot of beating, so a sturdy, fairly powerful stand mixer should be used.
About 1/2 cup powdered sugar for dusting dish and marshmallows
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
For regular square marshmallows: Spray a 9- by 13-inch flat baking dish with nonstick spray. For cut-out marshmallows: Use a 10- by 15-inch baking pan and spray with nonstick spray.Then insert parchment paper into the dish or pan, allowing the paper to overhang the narrow ends about an inch. Very evenly coat the paper with nonstick spray. Evenly sift a light layer of powdered sugar onto the paper; the marshmallow will stick to any spots that are missed.
To cut the marshmallows into squares: Generously sift powdered sugar onto a large clean cutting board. Peel off one sheet of wax paper from the marshmallow slab, then lay the slab on the sugar. Peel off the second sheet of wax paper and sift more powdered sugar over top. Using lightly greased kitchen shears or a large, sharp lightly greased knife, cut the slab crosswise into 12 portions and lengthwise into 8 to form generous 1-inch marshmallows (or as desired). Dust all the cut surfaces of the marshmallows with powdered sugar to reduce their stickiness. As necessary, clean off the knife and re-grease.
To cut marshmallows into gourmet shapes: Ready sharp metal cutters of your choosing by lightly coating with nonstick spray. Then press down all the way through the marshmallow layer to cut out the gourmet shapes desired. Push the marshmallows out of the cutters with your fingers and continue. Clean off and re-oil the cutters as needed. Dust the cut-out marshmallows all over with a little more powdered sugar (especially the cut edges) so they don’t stick together during storage. Store, loosely packed in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
For another appealing holiday or spring sweet treat, add these pretty dye-free pastel buttercream frostings to cupcakes, cakes, or cookies.