I always wondered why anyone would want to make their own marshmallows. Once you give these a try, you won't ever go back to the bag! These soft pillows of sweetness pair perfectly in cocoa, tea, or just off of the plate. If you aren't a fan of peppermint, leave it out or try different extracts like coconut or almond. Try dipping them in chocolate or roll them in cocoa powder. Want them to taste minty like a candy cane? Use 1 teaspoon of mint extract and less if you'd like a more mild flavor. Leave out the peppermint and you have sweet vanilla. The possibilities are endless!
Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with plastic wrap and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl (or in your stand mixer bowl), sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water and allow it to dissolve for about 5-10 minutes.
In a small saucepan, mix sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water. Bring the mixture to a HARD boil and cook for one minute (you don't need a candy thermometer but be sure you get a rolling boil). Stir frequently.
Pour the boiling syrup on top of the gelatin and whisk on high. If you have one, a stand mixer will make this job much easier.
Add the salt and whisk on high for about 10-12 minutes or until mixture looks like soft meringue.
At the end of the mixing, add the vanilla and peppermint extract. Pour half of the marshmallow mixture into the pan, then swirl around a few drops of red food coloring (if making peppermint marshmallows). Pour the rest of the mixture on top, then swirl in a little more food coloring. Allow the marshmallows to set at least 2-3 hours until firm.
Lift the plastic wrap to remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and cornstarch. Dip a knife or kitchen shears in powdered sugar mixture between each cut. Cut into whatever sized cubes you would like.
Toss each marshmallow in the powdered sugar mixture. Store in a bowl or container that isn't completely sealed (so they don't get sticky/soggy). To coat some or all with chocolate, melt about 1/2 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet, or your choice) along with a few drops of vegetable oil in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Dip freshly cut marshmallows either half or completely coated and place on cookie sheet covered with a light coating of nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle topping of choice while still wet. With the peppermint flavored marshmallows, crushed candy canes or peppermint candies are wonderful! You can leave out the peppermint extract and make vanilla flavored marshmallows which can be dipped. Sprinkle nuts and/or coconut on top, if desired.