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Bad Homemade Marshmallow Leads to Two Dessert Failures


The first 6 or so times I made candy, I was able to bring sugar to a precise temperature without the use of a candy thermometer. I know now that I was just getting lucky, but at that time, I of course arrogantly thought that it was my cray cooking skillz.  A failure to reach the soft ball stage on the sugar for some marshmallows was the reason that not one but two recipes failed this past weekend. The first was a simple rice krispy treat that was studded with potato chips. The second was a s'mores brownie.

You know the brownie drill. Melted chocolate and butter, some eggs and sugar, mix together and add the flour. I got this batter ready early so that when the marshmallow was ready I would be able to use it right away.

Gelatin and water blooming.

The sugar, corn syrup, and water boils and needs to come to exactly 140 degrees. You then pour the sugar into the gelatin mix and whisk for about 12 - 15 minutes to get marshmallow. I think my sugar only got to about 125. My infrared doesn't work when making candy because of all the bubbles.

The taste of the treats with the kettle chips mixed in was awesome, especially right away when I was mixing in the fresh marshmallow. They even solidified nicely after being in the fridge overnight because of the gelatin in the mix, but the issue was that the rice krispies got soggy. The sugar in the marshmallow hardened slowly so it seeped into the cereal, a process that would have happened faster if the sugar was brought properly to the soft ball stage.

For the brownies, I first wanted to broil the marshmallow to give it that campfire taste. You can see how soft the marshmallow was in this picture, but I trekked forward just to see what would happen.

Nice browning. I was cautiously optimistic at this point.

I have seen many s'mores brownies recipes with the marshmallow on top and they all look pretty, but they don't look that tasty or realistic or easy to eat in my opinion, so I decided to try putting the marshmallow in the middle. I sandwiched it between two layers of Gram crackers thinking that maybe the crackers would sop up the slightly watery marshmallow.

What happened instead was the sugar from the marshmallow invaded the rest of the brownie and seemed to prevent it from cooking! I normally cook this brownie batter for about 30 minutes, but this time after 45 it still had the texture of undercooked brownie.

These were way to sweet for me to even think about eating, and didn't exactly taste like s'mores. My roommates however seemed to have no problem finishing off the entire batch over the weekend. The krispy treats on the other hand got thrown out after being untouched for a few days. After this and one other previous incident, I have learned my lesson and will not make candy again without a candy thermometer!


I truly love the fact that you post your failures.

You've reminded me that my son and I tried to make rice krispy treats a month or so back, but rather than making marshmallow from scratch like you did we attempted to melt a bag of mini-marshmallows in some melted butter, which is what the recipe on the side of the rice krispies box directed us to do.

They didn't melt.

Well they did, but not into a liquid. Instead they melted into one GIANT marshmallow (It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man all over again!).

We were able to smoosh the giant marshmallow ball into the bowl of rice krispies and mix everything around then press the gelatinous mass into the cooling pan, but it didn't seem as easy as the recipe on the box made it seem like it should be.

I suspect our problem was the same as yours in that we had no candy thermometer so we either didn't get our marshmallow hot enough to melt properly, or we overshot the desired temperature and the marshmallow aerated itself. Or I have no clue what I'm talking about. I'm going with #3. I have no idea what went wrong. Any ideas?

Sorry the recipes didn't work out this time, but the potato chip rice krispy sounds like a really good idea!

Can you post the intended potato chip rice krispie treat recipe?

Your desserts look delicious, but I think the problem with your marshmallow attempt is that the softball stage is 240 degrees (Fahrenheit), not 140. The King Arthur Flour website has a great marshmallow recipe that I use all the time, and with great success.

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