Last month I tried making marshmallows for the first time based of off Alton Brown's recipe here: http://altonbrown.com/homemade-marshmallow-recipe/. I have only one major obstacle with this recipe, and that is that I do not own or have easy access to a stand mixer. Challenge 1.5 being that my cheap and little electric hand mixer is on its last legs and this recipe calls for constant use of a beater for 12 to 15 minutes. Despite this, the recipe turns out some absolutely scrumptious puffs of sugary goodness that are popular even my syrup and sugar avoiding friends and family.
The first time I made these marshmallows I forgot to leave out the vanilla extract until near the end, and added it to the sugar/water/corn syrup mixture before heating it up to 240*F. This last time I added the vanilla extra about 1 minute to the end of the whipping stage. Frankly, I couldn't taste the difference and the texture of each batch was the same so.... yeah. Not sure what to say on that. Also, since don't have cooking spray to non-stick the bottom of the molds or pan, I use a light coating of coconut oil. I also love the subtle taste it adds to the finishing product.
This time around I had plastic and silicone candy molds to work with, though I am still without a handy stand mixer. Instead of using a 9 x 12 baking pan, I gave my candy molds a light brushing of coconut oil, then coated them in colored sanding sugar before a sprinkling the corn starch/icing sugar mixture in them as well. For my flower molds I added yellow chocolate balls. All of these fine things (candy molds, sanding sugar, tiny decorative chocolates) came from a local baking boutique, but I'm sure they can be found online if not at the grocery store.
After filling my molds I had leftover unset marshmallow cream, so quickly prepped a pie tin as instructed in the recipe and spread the rest in that. Once set (I leave it overnight - or about 12 hours) I dipped snowflake shaped cookie cutters in coconut oil then the corn starch/icing sugar mixture and cut out the marshmallows from the pie plate. It was less easy removing the marshmallows from the candy molds, but they held their shape okay despite a bit of stretching and compressing. I dipped the candy mold marshmallows in more sanding sugar that had been mixed with the corn starch/icing sugar mixture (I didn't really want them to look like Peeps, I just wanted a hint of fun color).
Result: AWESOME. Though I think next batch I'm going to see how far I can experiment from the recipe in terms of flavoring - perhaps even infuse it with some marsh mallow root tea to see how close I can get to a more "traditional" marshmallow.