If you have never had a homemade marshmallow, roll up your sleeves and give it a try! They are a delightful treat that should be in a totally different food category than the "marshmallows" you buy in a store. As long as you can tolerate a bit of sticky mess and you have a stand mixer, you can probably make marshmallows at home.
Here's what I do, based on the famous chef Thomas Keller's "French Laundry" recipe:
- put 2.5T gelatin in the bottom of your stand mixer and pour 1/2 c water over the top of it. Let the gelatin "bloom" for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine in a medium saucepan, combine 2c sugar, 2/3 c light corn syrup, and 1/4c water. Bring this to a boil, and then boil it hard for one minute.
Now, slowly pour the sugar mixture into your stand mixer fitted with then paddle attachment (you can use the whisk attachment, too, but I don't think it's necessary, and it's harder to get all of the marshmallow scraped into your pan), with the mixer running on low. Boiling sugar hurts when it hits your skin, so do this very carefully. Once it's all poured in, turn the mixer off and scrape the bottom to make sure you get all of the gelatin mixed in, and then turn the mixer to med-high speed and just let 'er rip for 7-10 minutes. At some point, sprinkle in 1/4 salt.
You'll watch it gradually turn from a clear, gelatin-smelling sugar syrup to a light and fluffy thing that resembles marshmallow fluff. While this is happening, generously smear a 9x13 baking pan with coconut oil (you can use other oils, but I prefer coconut oil).
When your marshmallow fluff looks white and fluffy, pour in 1T vanilla extract and let it mix for another minute. Then, working quickly, pour the mixture into your greased pan. It is extremely sticky, and as it cools, it will become harder to pour and spread. You need to just resolve yourself that you won't get it all off of the beater and out of the mixer into the pan. This is more futile than trying to do it with Rice Krispie treats. I also mix my marshmallows for less time than the official recipe, because the cooler it gets, the harder it is to pour it into the pan to cool.
Let your marshmallows cool uncovered in the pan for 4+ or overnight.
When they are cool, dust a large cutting board with powdered sugar and also sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of your marshmallow block. Invert the block onto the cutting board and prepare to cut your marshmallows into desired sizes. There are a ton of ways you can do this, but here's what I do: I smear coconut oil on both sides of a big knife and cut through as much as I can, cutting into long strips and reapplying the coconut oil as frequently as necessary. At some point, you will probably need to completely wash your knife and start over. Once you have the strips cut, sprinkle powdered sugar over the "raw" edges on both sides - I do this using a powdered sugar sifter, kind of smearing it around with my fingers, and then I use the excess from the cutting board for more dredging, if necessary. Then I cut the long strips into cubes and dredge the raw edges again. I like to leave them sitting, spread apart, on the cutting board to set up for a few hours before sealing them in a tub or plastic bag. Store at room temperature.
You can also get fancy and drizzle them with chocolate or white chocolate and add sprinkles or crushed candy canes on top. I don't recommend coating entirely with chocolate because they will "weep" (kind of like a chocolate-covered strawberry) and get gooey.
And here's a delightful savory treat to balance out the sweet: Parmesan + Herb popcorn! (but do this recipe with real parmesan and real butter, obvs)