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Sharp Health News

Natural homemade marshmallow treats

March 25, 2016

Natural homemade marshmallow treats

Easter is just around the corner, which means it's time to prepare colorful baskets filled with pink and yellow marshmallow bunnies and chicks. While the store-bought ones are quite tasty, I no longer indulge now that I know the amount of chemicals beneath their friendly, squishy exterior: artificial flavors, artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup, among other un-pronounceable substances.

On a mission to find a healthier alternative to those chemical-laden treats, I was inspired by this recipe that is truly delicious.

These homemade marshmallows may not look factory-perfect, but they are just as delicious. Plus, they use natural ingredients and are incredibly easy to make. Just be sure to carefully follow the instructions and keep a watchful eye on your ingredients as you go. My only caution: Be extra careful with the hot honey syrup, especially if you have children around.

Natural Homemade Marshmallow Treats
You won't hear a peep of dissent from your little birds with this alternative recipe.
Yields approximately 24-30 depending on the pan size and the shape (squares or bunnies or both)

1 cup water, split into 2 half cups
3 tablespoons grass-fed unflavored gelatin
1 cup organic honey
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt (optional)
Natural food dye (optional)

9x13-inch or 8x8-inch pan*
Parchment paper
Small pot
Stand mixer or hand mixer
Candy thermometer (optional)
Large mixing bowl

*You can use whatever size pan you like depending on your marshmallow thickness preference. The 8×8 pan will make nice-sized, thick marshmallows. A 9x13 pan will make thinner marshmallows.

Line the bottom of a pan with parchment paper, leaving some on the sides to be able to pull up. Then lightly grease the paper.

In the mixing bowl, add the gelatin with 1/2 cup of water. Set aside to soften.

While the gelatin is softening, place the honey, vanilla, salt and the other 1/2 cup of water into a small pot; heat on medium. Slowly bring the water and honey mixture to a boil. Use a candy thermometer to test the temperature; it should reach at least 240° F. If a candy thermometer is not available, keep boiling and stirring constantly for 8 minutes.

Slowly pour the honey mixture into the bowl with the gelatin mix, which should now be hardened.

Using the mixer or hand mixer on medium, add the honey mixture. Once all of the honey mixture has been added, turn the mixer to high and continue beating until it becomes thick like marshmallow fluff and forms gentle peaks, roughly 10 to 15 minutes.

If you want your marshmallows to have color, add desired food dye at the very last stage of mixing the marshmallow batter to tint them.

Scrape into the prepared pan. To get a somewhat flat surface, take another piece of parchment paper and grease on one side. Put the greased side on top of the marshmallows, and then press down to even out with your hands.

Let the pan sit out for several (up to 12) hours until firm. When the marshmallows are set, flip on to a cutting board and, using a well-greased knife, cut into squares*. Or use greased cookie cutters to press into desired shape, such as bunnies or chicks**.

Adding extra color and decorating
*For the marshmallow squares: While you're waiting for the marshmallows to set, add a few drops of natural food coloring to a bowl of finely shredded coconut flakes and mix thoroughly. Keep adding dye until the flakes reach the preferred color intensity. After the marshmallows have set, cut them up in squares and roll them in the coconut.

**To make eyes for your bunnies and chicks, combine 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon of water. Using a toothpick, dot the chocolate mixture to make two eyes and a nose for your bunny.

Voila! Marshmallows that taste good and are free from chemicals and high fructose corn syrup.

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