Every year around Christmas I make large batches of a variety of candies to give as gifts to friends. Usually I make toffee, peanut butter bonbons (which are kind of like buckeyes with rice krispies and butterscotch), and peppermint bark. This year, I decided to add marshmallows. I was inspired both by Smitten Kitchen's recipe, which I stumbled on a while ago, and by the gourmet taco trucks at Off The Grid at Fort Mason in San Francisco, which we discovered accidentally when we had a performance in the same area at the same time.
The marshmallows from Smitten Kitchen looked delicious, but I felt a little weetchy about making something with eggs that would be barely cooked. I ended up comparing with the Martha Stewart recipe and eventually used something more along those lines. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the marshmallows were to make, and now I have many more plans to make them (Valentine's Day! Easter! Recital receptions!) with suitable variations. Seriously. Easy. Easier than caramel, easier than meringues. There is absolutely no reason for you not to go make some marshmallows right now.
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Oil a 9x13 inch baking pan and dust the inside evenly with powdered sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, put 1/2 cup cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set it aside to soften while you prepare the sugar mixture.
In a medium saucepan, combine the other 1/2 cup water, the corn syrup, and the sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and boil, without stirring, until the mixture registers 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. Immediately pour the hot sugar mixture over the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Add peppermint extract.
With a hand mixer (or stand mixer, if you have one... I think it goes a little faster with one.) beat the mixture on high until thick, white, tripled in volume, and glossy, about 10 minutes. With a greased spatula (trust me, this stuff is sticky), encourage the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. If you want red swirls, drop a few small drops of food coloring on the surface. Using a toothpick, swirl by making zig-zag patterns at right angles to each other on the surface of the marshmallow mixture. Dust the entire sheet with more powdered sugar, and leave to set for about 3 hours.
When the marshmallows have set, turn them out on a powdered sugared cutting board and sift some more sugar into a bowl. Cut the marshmallows however you like, using a knife dipped in hot water or a greased cookie cutter. Once the marshmallows are cut, toss them in powdered sugar to coat all the sticky sides.
Store in an airtight container.