These homemade marshmallows are a grown-up treat with a kick! Add Irish Whiskey Marshmallows to a cup of coffee for the best Irish coffee you’ve ever had!
How easy is it to make DIY marshmallows?
Easier than you think! At its essence, marshmallows are simple syrup firmed up with gelatin.
Ok, maybe there’s a bit more to it than that.
What you need
Making whiskey marshmallows doesn't involve any fancy ingredients. Most you'll probably already have on hand.
- Irish Whiskey: The flavor will be prominent (as will its kick!), so use what you like to drink. You can also use a different spirit, like scotch, bourbon, or whatever you prefer. Get creative!
- Unflavored gelatin powder: Gelatin is what makes the sugar syrup set up. I use Knox unflavored gelatine.
- Sugar: The sweetness has to come from somewhere!
- Light corn syrup: In addition to adding more sweetness, corn syrup helped to stabilize the sugar as it’s being heated. Can you make marshmallows without corn syrup? Check out my comments below.
- Salt: Just a pinch helps to keep the marshmallows from becoming overly cloying.
- Powdered sugar: This isn’t so much for sweetness as it’s to help keep the cut marshmallows from sticking to each other...the counter...your fingers. Since you’ll be eating it, it’s better to dust with powdered sugar than flour in this instance, wouldn’t you agree?
How to make marshmallows
There are four steps to making fluffy whiskey marshmallows:
Step 1: Sprinkle unflavored gelatin over a liquid (in this case a 50/50 mix of water and Irish whiskey).
Yes, you could use the drop-a-bit-into-a-glass-of-water-and-check-the-texture method, but digital thermometers are quite handy to have around, so I’d suggest just keeping one in your equipment drawer.
Step 3: Whip the sugar syrup into the gelatin/liquid mixture until it’s really fluffy, about 10-12 minutes. When properly whipped, the mixture will be thick and will slowly slump back into the bowl when the beater is lifted.
You want to make sure you whip enough air into your whiskey marshmallows, otherwise they come out more chewy than fluffy. On my first attempt I only whipped the mixture for 6 minutes, and they came out flat.
I didn’t throw them away…they were still yummy! I baked them into brownies for a ooey-gooey treat. Yummm…
Step 4: Let the marshmallows dry out completely before even attempting to cut them. Four hours is minimum, but wait until the next day if you can.
Can you make marshmallows vegan?
Yes, there are many recipes for making vegan marshmallows, like this one from Taste of Home. Since gelatin is an animal derivative, Agar powder is used instead.
However, I readily admit that I’m not vegan (say it ain’t so!), so I haven’t tried it myself. If you do go that route, please let me know how it goes in the comments below.
How about marshmallows without corn syrup?
First, let me say that corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are not the same thing, as this article from The Kitchn says.
Longtime readers know of my efforts to eliminate processed foods and preservatives from my family’s diet, and high fructose corn syrup is part of those ingredients that I avoid. Making DIY marshmallows is one way to ensure that I can pronounce all the ingredients that go into marshmallows.
The reason for including corn syrup is to help stabilize the sugar as its being heated to the soft-ball stage temperature (238°F). It’s the same reason for including it when making caramel sauce and as a way to recover sugar syrup that has crystalized during heating.
That being said, you can substitute honey, maple syrup, or golden syrup for the corn syrup. Each will leave its subtle flavor on the finished product, and you can use it to enhance the whiskey's flavor profile.
Can I change the whiskey amount?
You can adjust the amount of whiskey you use in the marshmallows up or down to suit your taste, as long as you adjust the amount of water by the same amount.
If you want to make these Whiskey Marshmallows kid-friendly (or you’re avoiding alcohol), I’ve got you covered. Just substitute water for the spirits. Flavor the marshmallows with 1 tsp of vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp of another extract flavor after all the whipping is done.
The best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day would be to put a couple Whiskey Marshmallows in a cup of coffee for the best Irish coffee you’ve ever had! Naturally gluten-free, homemade marshmallows are perfect for the upcoming Spring holidays of Passover and Easter (maybe strawberry flavored?).
I’ll be making more marshmallows now that I know how easy they are, and I hope you will, too!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Easy recipes for candy and fudge
Candy making doesn't have to be hard, and making fudge definitely isn't. And if you want to try your hand at chocolate dipped treats, here's a guide to temper chocolate for that satisfying snap.
Homemade Irish Whiskey Marshmallows
- canola oil spray
- pizza cutter or sharp knife
- ¼ cup Irish Whiskey, see Recipe Notes (2 oz, 56g)
- ¾ cup water, cold, divided (6 oz, 170g)
- 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin powder, (¾ oz, 21g)
- 1½ cups sugar, (10½ oz, 300g)
- 1 cup light corn syrup, (11 oz, 312g)
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- powdered sugar, as needed for sifting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine ¼ cup water and ¼ cup Irish Whiskey. Sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid and let it sit while you make the sugar syrup. Make sure all the gelatin gets wet (you don't want a dry gelatin "island" floating around).
- In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the remaining ½ cup of water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt over Medium-High heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Using a digital thermometer (or a candy thermometer) bring the syrup to a boil without stirring until it reaches 238°F (soft-ball stage). It might foam up, so lower the heat if necessary. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the proper temperature. Remove from heat.
- Turn on the mixer to Low to blend the gelatin for a few seconds. With the mixer running, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Be careful…you don’t want to have any splashes. This is a good time to use a splash guard if you have one.
- Once all the syrup has been added to the bowl, gradually turn the mixer up to High, and whip for 12 minutes. Don’t be tempted to whip for less time...you need a lot a air whipped into the mixture to achieve that lofty marshmallow texture. When properly whipped, the mixture will be thick, and will slowly slump back into the bowl when the beater is lifted.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. You can smooth the surface with a small offset spatula. Sift a generous layer of powdered sugar on top.
- Allow the marshmallow to dry on the counter, uncovered, for at least 4 hours. You want it to pull away cleanly from the sides of the pan when you gently tug it with your fingers. If you have the time, allow the marshmallows to dry overnight.
- When you’re ready to cut the marshmallows, open the sides of the collapsible pan. Use the guides on the pan to cut the block into 1-inch squares with a plastic pizza cutter (mine came with the pan), a regular pizza cutter, or a chef’s knife. If you’re using a metal cutter or knife, wipe it with canola oil and dust it with powdered sugar repeating as necessary to keep it from sticking to the marshmallow block as it’s being cut.
- Cut the block lengthwise into 8 strips, then crosswise into 8 pieces, to form a total of 64 squares. (For larger marshmallows, cut lengthwise into 6 strips, then crosswise into 6 pieces, to form a total of 36 squares.) Dust the cut sides of the marshmallows with additional powdered sugar as you go All the sides should be well coated and not sticky. See the Recipe Notes for additional cutting ideas.
- Eat these adult-only marshmallows out of hand, made into S’mores, baked into brownies, or put a couple in a cup of coffee for the best Irish coffee you’ve ever had. Enjoy!