I heard this story on the radio about making marshmallows from scratch, and remembered a time at least four years ago when a friend was raving about how easy and delicious homemade marshmallows were. I've never cared about them much one way or the other. While I'll burn through my share at a campfire, those smoldering puffs of gooey burnt sugar are tempered with less flattering manifestations such as Peeps and Nabisco pinwheels.
Even still, the snow-white fluffiness of this confection make for a legitimate holiday baking project, so out came the corn starch and confectioners sugar and on went the apron.
The npr blog does a great job of walking through the recipe step-by-step. My only comments on the process were that I didn't mix the final ingredients "until the bowl is cool to touch" - I whisked about 10-12 minutes, until the texture stopped changing, but the mix was still warm to the touch - probably about 85-90 degrees, and I didn't have any issues with the candy setting up to a nice texture. My only problem was in spreading the mixture evenly in the prepared pan. It's too sticky to spread, and too thick to flow into a smooth layer. So my final marshmallows weren't evenly shaped.
I buy the more expensive clear vanilla from Mexico, because I think it has superior flavor, and is doesn't contribute any unnatural caramel color. That is an especially nice when making something like this where the absolute whiteness is such a hallmark feature.
Otherwise, Will and I both enjoyed these as an interesting change from my Christmas classics, but his exact words were, "It's not a chocolate chip cookie." No, it isn't. It is sweet, fluffy, suprisingly unsticky, but otherwise tasting just of the vanilla flavor from my Mexican extract. We're interested to see if these toast up at all... probably will do a test over the toaster oven...