Since I became a vegetarian (I use the term loosely–see this and this), one of the things I’ve cheated on most is marshmallows. Because, when someone offers you a s’more around a campfire, it takes a lot of willpower to say no, especially since marshmallows don’t resemble a red, dripping steak.
What makes marshmallows non-vegetarian? They contain gelatin, which is made from collagen in the skin, bones, and other organs of animals. (source) And you can’t use the skin and bones of a still-living animal, so although marshmallows aren’t meat, they do require an animal to be killed. I don’t think marshmallow makers are too concerned with the animals that were used to make the gelatin they use, so you probably can’t find grass-fed marshmallows to make sure your marshmallow-cows were humanely raised.
You can buy vegan marshmallows like these, but many vegans are wary since another marshmallow company (turned out not to be vegetarian although they claimed to be. Plus, vegan marshmallows are pretty pricey.
Vegan marshmallow recipes usually call for agar agar, but most of the reviews I read said the product wasn’t very good. Since I’m only vegetarian, I went for a better reviewed recipe that calls for egg whites and xanthan gum to give the marshmallows that chewy consistency.
I wanted to make these marshmallows for my little (just-graduated-from-college) sister, because she’s a more virtuous vegetarian than I am and I thought she deserved a treat. I asked her if she and her boyfriend wanted to come over and roast marshmallows. She excitedly agreed, confessing to me later that she forgot we have an indoor fireplace, meaning that she would have been willing to stand around a fire pit in January to get a taste of these babies. It was then I knew I couldn’t disappoint.
The recipe came together surprisingly easily. I even substituted vanilla extract for the vanilla bean it called for. I was afraid the marshmallows would be too thick because they were so heavy and viscous.
Fortunately, they responded well to my Pam-sprayed hands and excessive amounts of granulated sugar (think Peeps) I used instead of corn starch.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the delicious s’mores we ate. I was too busy getting my fingers sticky. I will say that these marshmallows, even after nearly 24 hours in the fridge, weren’t a great consistency for putting on the end of a stick. Cornstarch or more time in the fridge might have helped. We set them on top of a grilling fork and held them over the fireplace. It was a good thing the marshmallows were so soft, since each of us wimped out of the roasting process early because of the heat of the hottest fire we’d ever built.
These were so fun to make, and even more fun to eat. After I cut them out, we had plenty of leftovers. I folded them up in an airtight container and we’ve been using a cookie scoop to have them on microwave s’mores as a bedtime snack. They’d also be amazing on a cup of hot chocolate.
Follow the link in this blog to find the recipe for vegetarian marshmallows.