When thinking about what candy I was going to make for holiday gifts this year I knew I wanted to made something gingerbread. My son has been begging me to make gingerbread men cookies so I have had gingerbread on the mind. I played with the idea of making gingerbread fudge, but when I got the box with my new “gingerbread family” cookie cutters in the mail and saw how cute the little gingerbread boy cuter was I knew that I had to make gingerbread marshmallows. Cutting homemade marshmallows with cookie cutters makes them so much more festive and makes for a truly adorable gift. These gingerbread men were left plain, but you can also coat the cutout marshmallows in colored sugar (like these Christmas trees or menorahs and dreidels) to make them extra fun and sparkly.
When cutting marshmallows out with small cookie cutters (less than two inches tall) it is important that the marshmallow slab is no thicker than about half an inch. If they are thicker the cutter squishes the marshmallow as it cuts and the shape distorts leaving you with a marshmallow that is sort of cone shaped. I like to make the marshmallow slab one inch high when I am cutting them into squares but make them about half that thick if using small cutters. Large cutters work fine with one inch marshmallows, but you end up with some pretty jumbo marshmallows.
These gingerbread marshmallows themselves taste exactly like soft gingerbread cookies. They have a rich molasses flavor and the warm spiciness of good gingerbread. They are delicious eaten plain and add a bit of holiday flair to a cup of hot coffee or hot chocolate. If you do not want to use a cookie cutter they are equally delicious cut into squares instead. A fun holiday marshmallow flavor indeed.
A word of warning. The molasses and spices cause the marshmallow mixture to boil up quite substantially while cooking. The recipe says to use a large pot. Do not ignore this instruction. Trust me on this one.
3 tablespoons gelatin*
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup molasses
2/3 cup corn syrup
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
*It is important to use real gelatin, such as kolatin, in this recipe. Vegetable based gelatins will not work.
Lightly spray an 11 x 15 jelly roll pan (for cutouts) or a 9×13 baking pan (for squares) with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly spray a large offset spatula and set beside the prepared tray.
Combine the first 3/4 cup of cold water and the gelatin in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended and smooth. Set aside. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, molasses, corn syrup, salt, sugar and spices in a very large saucepan and place over medium heat. (It is important to use a large pan because the molasses causes the mixture to bubble up substantially) When mixture boils, brush down the sides of the pan above the upper surface of the syrup with a clean, moistened pastry brush, or cover the pot with a lid for two minutes to allow the condensation to dissolve any lingering crystals.
Place a candy or instant read thermometer into the syrup and continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup reaches 248F. Do not stir the mixture once you remove the lid. Once it reaches 248 remove the pan from heat and carefully stir in the gelatin mixture. Stir until the gelatin is completely melted.
Pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Quickly cover bowl with loosely draped plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel in order to avoid splatters, and gradually increase the mixer speed to “high”. Whip mixture for 12 minutes.
Scrape the mixture into prepared pan and spread out smooth with oiled offset spatula. (A wet spatula or wet hands work well too) Set marshmallow aside, uncovered, at room temperature for at least 4 hours or over night before cutting.
Before cutting the marshmallows, place the cornstarch and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Cut marshmallows with a lightly oiled knife or pizza cutter and break into individual pieces. It may be necessary to wash and re-oil the knife if it gets sticky. Alternatively, coat the knife with the cornstarch mixture before cutting and when it starts to get sticky re-coat it. If using a cookie cutter rub the cookie cutter in the cornstarch mixture after every few cuts to keep it from getting stick. Cut out the shapes as close together as possible to get as many marshmallows from the slab as possible. Toss the cut marshmallows with the cornstarch mixture to completely coat. Transfer marshmallows to a fine mesh strainer and shake as much of the excess starch off as possible.
Store marshmallows in an airtight container with the lid slightly ajar for up to two weeks.
Note: If making cutout marshmallows there will be some leftover marshmallow scraps. If you can keep from eating them all, they make great rice krispie treats.
Recipe adapted from the molasses marshmallow recipe by Eileen Talanian