Do you have any holiday baking traditions? Do you make those cut little green wreath cookies with your mom every December, or break out your frying oil and your great aunt’s famous sufganiyot recipe?
I, for one, don’t really have any holiday traditions in the kitchen, unless you count being consumed by an overwhelming urge to make ~all the cookies~ between December 1st-25th. The closest thing I’ve got are the hours I spend in my yiayia’s kitchen twisting kouroulakia to make her famous recipe every time I come home for the holidays. She doesn’t let me come over when she’s making the dough though. It’s a legendary family recipe and I don’t think she’s keen to share it with me.
All that to say, I usually spend December experimenting with as many new seasonal desserts as I can possibly find or imagine. There has been a dark and sticky gingerbread cake one year, obviously a lot of cranberry things, cookie recipes from around the world (shoutout to Irish shortbread!), and this year, two molasses/gingerbread experiments. The first was a lebkuchen dough from Luisa Weiss that had to be aged at room temperature for TWO WHOLE MONTHS and only made me a little nervous to eat, because after all two months is a very long time.
The second experiment was these molasses gingerbread marshmallows. They were very good and unfortunately quite a bit of them got thrown away in the midst of a very frantic and last minute move, but thankfully there were still a lot of cookies left over to make up for it.
The core concept at the heart of the these marshmallows is the very daring move to sub in molasses for corn syrup. And it works! Not only do you get corn syrup-free marshmallows, but the molasses also means that they’re not nearly as overwhelmingly sweet as normal marshmallows (not that I’m usually complaining, but still). They also have a very lovely spice situation going on, so that they’re, duh, very gingerbread-y. It’s a holiday success story!
If you haven’t made marshmallows before, you’ll need a stand mixer and a candy thermometer. Although to be honest, I made marshmallows several times before getting a candy thermometer and I don’t think the science is quite as exact as people make it out to be. Just have a bowl of ice water, and when a drop of the boiling syrup mixture forms a soft ball after being dropped into the ice water, you’re good to go. Other than that, be prepared to be amazed by the awesome transformation of boiling sugar into billowing white marshmallow cream. It’s almost as addictive as the marshmallows themselves.
Oh! And you should know that these have a very strong molasses flavor (obvi). Which is great if you love molasses like I do, less so if you think it’s usually too strong or overpowering.
Now get on with your holiday baking and be a champ.