I actually took two of Dorie's "playing around" suggestions and combined them so I could have Raspberry Chocolate Marshmallows instead of original vanilla.
Here are the ingredients and Dorie's instructions. My own notes are in italics.
About 1 cup potato starch or cornstarch
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cups plus 1 T sugar (I didn't see any mention of this add'l tablespoon in the written recipe. I assumed it was supposed to go in with the egg whites, so that's what I used it for.)
2 T light corn syrup
2 1/4-oz packets of unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 T vanilla
Line a rimmed baking sheet--choose one with a rim that is 1" high--with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. (I used a 10" square pan instead.)
Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup--without stirring--until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and the egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining water (a scant 7 T) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy,
then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)
Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy--don't overbeat them and have them go dull. (I added the tablespoon of sugar once the egg whites were foamy and starting to thicken.)
As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the side of the bowl.
so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated.
Beat in the vanilla. (And at this point I also added half the raspberry puree
and half the melted chocolate/cocoa powder mixture. I poured them each into the bowl with the mixer on low,
and then finished up with a rubber spatula.)
Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet.
Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch;
you won't fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups). (I filled the pan - it was smaller and square, and so perhaps my marshmallows were more like 3/4-7/8 of an inch tall, rather than the full inch.)
Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.
(Um...clearly I wasn't actually "dusting" in this instance. More like "bombarding.")
Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife.
Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like--cut into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut,
drop it into the bowl.
When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch,
then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch;
transfer them to a serving bowl.
Cut and coat the rest of the batch.
For Raspberry Marshmallows:
Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies. For raspberry marshmallows, you'll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree;
reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 tsp. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.
For Light Chocolate Marshmallows:
Melt 3 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder.
Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 tsp, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.
I used half of the raspberry puree and half of the chocolate in the marshmallows, and saved the rest.
I've made marshmallows before, but just the vanilla ones, and I gave them all away as parts of Christmas gifts, so I don't even remember tasting them.
These were wonderful - light, soft, flavorful (chocolate and raspberry is such a lovely combination)...my kids didn't want to wait the 3-hour minimum to sample them. They kept asking "Can we have the marshmallows now?" No. No. After dinner you can. Not yet. Okay - NOW.
Alex wanted me to make S'mores. Well, I didn't have graham crackers, and we didn't have a fire going either. We did, however, have some Girl Scout cookies left - the shortbread ones - so I set one on a plate, put a marshmallow on top, and a bit of a Hershey bar on top of that, and put it in the microwave for a couple seconds. The marshmallow kind of melted, but Alex didn't care. Neither did Julia when I made hers.
But I was thinking...when you make S'mores, you don't put them in the oven. You cook them over fire. So what could I use to approximate the effects of flames licking at the sugar?
My little butane torch!
I drizzled some of the leftover raspberry puree on a plate, and then some of the chocolate mixture...placed a cookie in the middle and put a little dollop of more chocolate on that.
And then I topped that with a marshmallow and gently bruleed it. Actually, I did it twice. The first one looked too burnt on top to make a nice picture, so I topped it with a cookie and took a picture from the side - and it looked like I'd made some strange, meatball-in-a-cookie sandwich.
See what I mean?
So I did the whole thing again, and this time I took my time with the flame and made sure I didn't blacken any of it.
This one looked better.
And I got a little more artful with the top cookie, too.
I gave this one to my husband after I'd taken all my pictures, and then plugged my camera into my laptop so I could upload the pictures. Alex came into the room and was especially drawn to the raspberry puree. Bill shared the plate with Alex, and just as I'd finished uploading pictures and unplugging the camera, I turned around and here's what I saw:
That blur you see between the plate and his face is his right hand, swooping down to the plate to scoop the remaining chocolatey-raspberry glop and bring it up to his mouth. Very little remained on the plate.
So I'd say the marshmallows were a big hit with my little family.