Hundred-Year-Old Marshmallows Recipe

homemade-marshmallows

Did you know that it’s easy to make homemade Marshmallows? I didn’t until recently.

When browsing through a hundred-year-old cookbook, I saw a recipe for Marshmallows. I was intrigued, and decided to give the recipe a try. The Marshmallows were fun and easy to make.  They were  light and fluffy (and so much fresher and tastier than store-bought marshmallows) – and would be perfect in cocoa, in s’mores, or roasted over a fire.

Another plus- So many modern candy recipes call for corn syrup, so I was thrilled that sugar was the only sweetener in this recipe.

marshmallow-in-cocoa

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)
Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Marshmallows

  • Servings: approximately 60 marshmallows
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 cups sugar

6 tablespoons water + 6 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin (3 packets)

2 teaspoons vanilla

confectioners’ sugar

Prepare an 8 inch by 8 inch pan by thickly covering the bottom of the pan with confectioner’s sugar.

Combine the sugar and 6 tablespoons water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved; then reduce heat and continue to gently boil until it reaches the soft ball stage (245° F.).  Do not stir. In the meantime put 6 tablespoons of water in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin.  Let sit for about 10 minutes or until the sugar mixture reaches the soft ball stage.

Remove the sugar mixture from the heat and pour into the bowl with the dissolved gelatin while beating rapidly. Continue beating. When the mixture begins to thicken, add the vanilla, then continue beating until the mixture is very thick and sticky.  The beating process will take 10-15 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. This mixture is extremely sticky. A mixing spoon that has been coated with butter or shortening can be used to spread the mixture in the pan.

Let sit for at least four hours (or overnight), then cut into squares using a knife that has been coated with butter or shortening (or that has been dipped in boiling water). Coat the cut edges of the marshmallows by tossing in a bowl that contains powdered sugar.

67 thoughts on “Hundred-Year-Old Marshmallows Recipe

    1. I made them with my daughter. We had a nice time cooking in the kitchen. She’d given me a new candy thermometer for Christmas, and this recipe gave us a good opportunity to try it out.

  1. Wow, these looks so good! I used to make marshmallows, but always added whipped egg whites for fluffiness. It’s great to know that they’re not really needed. And no corn syrup is always better.

    It’s interesting how this candy came to be, as originally it was made with an extract from an actual marshmallow plant (hence the name), which was used in ancient medicine to cure respiratory problems. The name stayed and all the healthy ingredients were gone…

    1. It’s interesting to learn a little about the history of marshmallows. It seems like so many foods have become less nutritious as they’re been modernized.

      I wonder if marshmallows would stay soft longer if egg whites were used. These marshmallows began to harden a little after a couple days. I think that the use of either whipped egg whites or corn syrup might help keep them softer longer, but I’m really not sure.

      1. Sadly, you’re so right, so many of the foods became less nutritious with time.
        I didn’t try adding corn syrup, but with whipped egg whites the marshmallows do keep soft longer. Obviously, not as long as the commercial ones, but who knows what they add to them for that purpose…

  2. Isn’t it funny that we are all so surprised that marshmallows can be made at home? Lol. I guess it’s the result of a society focused on consumerism. They sure had it right 100 years ago. Have you tried them with the orange extract as well Sheryl? It sounds delicious!

        1. I’m keeping my finger crossed that you decide to make them someday. I always love to hear about the experiences of others with this recipes, And, I hope that you also have a wonderful day.

  3. As l’m not a fan of marshmallows, it still is neat to know that there’s a recipe out there for how to make them. Be fun to make them for the grandchildren and cut them into fun shapes to float in their hot chocolate.

    1. What fun! I like the idea of cutting them into fun shapes. Since the marshmallows are on the sticky side before they are tossed in confectioner’s sugar, the shapes probably would need to be fairly basic.

    1. Yes, it would make a nice gift. The one downside is that these marshmallow don’t stay soft for as long as commercial ones–so they’d need to be gifted soon after they were made.

  4. It would be fun to see if the early settlers had a recipe for these using the plant — the marsh mallow. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a commercial marshmallow, so I guess I’ll not be making these, but I don’t think there’s any question your recipe would make a tastier treat. I suspect if I lived in a colder climate, and drank more hot chocolate, I’d be giving them a try.

    1. Your comment makes we wish that I had a really old recipe that called for using the plant (and that I knew where to find the plant). It would be fun to see what a “real” marshmallow tastes like.

        1. Wow, it’s amazing that you found a recipe for real marshmallows. Now I really want to give this a try – unfortunately I don’t think that marsh mallows grow around here. The flowers are beautiful.

  5. You never cease to surprise me. Home Marshmallows sounds like a wonderful treat. Perfect for this cold hot-chocolate time of year.
    I’ve never made marshmallows. I thought it too complicated. Your recipe seems not-so-intimidating. Thanks for sharing. 😀

    1. They really weren’t difficult to make. The process was a little messy because the mixture was so sticky after it was beaten for a few minutes – but it wasn’t complicated.

    1. I used my electric mixer. I’m sure that people a hundred years ago either beat by hand or used a rotary mixer with a hand crank – but I wasn’t that authentic. 🙂

    1. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed this post. I have a lot of fun finding and making the old recipes–and I’m always pleased when someone finds a recipe particularly interesting. 🙂

    1. I realize that it’s easier to make candies (and marshmallows) using corn syrup – but I think that it is better to avoid using corn syrup whenever possible and enjoy seeing how old-fashioned recipes that call for sugar turn out.

  6. What an interesting post. Now I wonder when people started making marshmallows. I thought it was something invented by the processed food industry.

    1. I’m guessing that people started making marshmallows in the late 1800s when powdered unflavored gelatin became available – though it was possible to make gelatin from scratch before that (but it was a very long tedious process).

  7. Reading the above comments about corn syrup made me wonder if it is something to be avoided. So I read articles on-line about the negatives of corn syrup and how common it is as an ingredient in processed foods. I will look more carefully at labels now and try to avoid foods containing high fructose corn syrup. Thanks for all your comments.

    1. There are a lot of negatives to corn syrup – yet it definitely can make it easier to make smooth homemade candies without having to worry so much about crystalization. . . sigh. . . Why does it always seem like there are trade-offs that need to be considered? That said, I really like how most hundred-year-old candy recipes use sugar, maple syrup, or honey.

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