PHOTO: Kirsten Skiles/Flickr
January 19, 2015

Sugar-free marshmallows have quickly become one of our favorite treats to make at home. They’re simple, require only a few ingredients and are wicked cool to brag about. “Yeah, I totally just made a batch of marshmallows for s’mores tonight.” That kind of thing.

One of the great parts about learning to make your own sweet treats is that you can control the ingredients. Store-bought marshmallows can have ingredients like corn syrup (yuck), dextrose (double yuck) and tetrasodium pyrophosphate (what is that?!) and any number of colorings. Do the whole family a favor: Learn how to make your own sugar-free marshmallows and make your dessert a little bit healthier.

The Sweet in Sugar-Free

When I say “sugar-free marshmallows,” what I mean is this recipe is totally devoid of white sugar and raw granulated sugar. Instead, they’re made with raw honey. Although, you end up heating the honey high enough to pasteurize it, it’s a big step above the white sugar you’ll find in the store. Try to find honey harvested in your area, so your marshmallows will be local, too!

On that note, have you ever thought of beekeeping so you can have honey in your own backyard? At my house, even the 6-year-old helps out with the bees, so don’t think you’re too young (or too old or too cool or too whatever) to get into beekeeping.

When you go to buy your local honey for this recipe, take a minute to talk to the beekeeper who’s selling it to you. Find out why they do what they do. Ask how often they get stung—it’s always a fun question! See if they might know of a good place for you and your kids to take a class in beekeeping.

Recipe: Honey Marshmallows

Alright, enough of my bee preaching—onto the recipe! A word of caution: Making these marshmallows involves heating honey to a very high temperature, so it’s a good idea that the kids in charge of making these have adult supervision. Plus, it helps to have an extra pair of hands and an extra set of eyes on the thermometer.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup organic gelatin
  • 1 cup cold, filtered water
  • 2 cups good-quality honey
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • butter

Preparation

Cover an 8½-by-11 casserole dish with parchment paper, allowing the paper to hang over the sides as “handles” so you can lift out your marshmallows. Grease the parchment paper with butter. Set up your stand mixer with the whisk attachment.

Pour the gelatin and 1/2 cup water into the bowl of your mixer. (If using a hand mixer, any bowl will do.) The gelatin will absorb the water and poof up a bit; this is called “blooming.”

Add the honey and salt into a medium-sized stockpot. Attach a candy thermometer to the side, or have a candy thermometer at the ready to dip into the honey every few minutes while heating.

Over medium heat, heat the honey to 240 degrees F—the soft-ball stage—making sure to stir constantly. This can take awhile, so be patient and keep stirring.

Once you’ve reached a soft ball, immediately remove the pan from heat and stir the vanilla in quickly. Continue mixing as you slowly add the honey into the gelatin in a slow, steady stream. Allow one of the kids to scrape every last drop from the pot with a silicone scraper as you continue to mix.

When everything is combined, turn your mixer to high and whip. Once the mixture has turned white, fluffy and glossy (this can take from 8 to 20 minutes), turn all of it out onto the parchment paper. Let it set up in a cool place with good air flow for at least 6 hours, but overnight is better; the longer it sits, the dryer the marshmallows will become. After they’ve set up, pull the parchment paper out of the pan, and use a pizza roller to slice your marshmallows into whatever size you desire.

Tips for Success

Sugar-Free Marshmallows Kids Can Make - Photo by Tessa Zundel (HobbyFarms.com)

  • Gather all your equipment and supplies first and put them out in front of you, where they’re easy to reach.
  • If you have a collar for your mixer or some way to cover up the top of your bowl while it whips your glop into marshmallow, do it. That stuff goes everywhere.
  • We turned the last batch of honey marshmallows into mini marshmallows by cutting them super small. We added cookie to the bottom of each serving dish and drizzled the marshmallows with melted chocolate. So much joy!
  • Right before Thanksgiving, we tried pumpkin marshmallows—pure delight!. Even just sprinkling some chocolate chips on top can turn them into a gourmet treat. Start experimenting with your own flavors and let us know what you come up with.
  • As you work tirelessly in the kitchen on your masterpieces, remember that the honey is going to harden and become nearly impossible to clean off once it sets up. Rinse your pans in hot water while the honey is still warm for quick cleanup.
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