These pillowy puffs can stabilize whipped cream, make mousse extra-luscious, and more.
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Baker Jessie Sheehan
Credit: Excerpted from Snackable Bakes: Copyright (c) 2022, published by Countryman Press.

During prime s'mores-making months, marshmallows are a pantry essential. In her new book, Snackable Bakes ($25, bookshop.org), marshmallow-loving baker and easy-peasy dessert queen Jessie Sheehan makes the case for stocking up on these puffy bags of sweetness year-round. Here she shares how the humble marshmallow is as versatile as it is delicious.

What is a Marshmallow?

These little confections are made up of little more than sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin whipped up with air, a trifecta that take on a delightfully sweet vanilla flavor together. Gelatin is the secret to marshmallows' soft, squishy bite that helps them hold their shape yet nearly melt in your mouth (and become oh-so-ooey-gooey when toasted).

Marshmallows are available in regular size and miniature, which you can use interchangeably in most recipes, as well as marshmallow crème or fluff. Many new varieties have hit grocery-store shelves lately, from large flat marshmallows designed for s'mores to stuffed marshmallows and gourmet marshmallows in flavors like cookie dough and mint chocolate chip. It's easy to make your own, too.

Sheehan admits she's "a bit of a marshmallow purist," however, turning to regular and mini marshies or fluff for all her favorite uses.

Most Common Ways to Use Marshmallows

If you have a bag of marshmallows on hand, chances are you stocked up for one of these two treats. Sheehan kicks them up a notch.

S'Mores

Roasting a marshmallow (or three) over an outdoor fire pit is an essential summertime treat. Whether you roast your marshmallow to sandwich with chocolate and graham crackers or simply pop it into your mouth, it's hard to beat the flavor of a toasted one. No fire pit? No problem: Sheehan is a big advocate of indoor s'mores any time of year. "Just make them in the oven," she suggests. (Or, try a terra cotta pot.)

Jessie Sheehan's crispy cereal treats
Credit: Excerpted from Snackable Bakes: Copyright (c) 2022, published by Countryman Press.

Crispy Cereal Treats

After s'mores, this no-bake childhood favorite is probably the next most common reason to have marshmallows on hand. Sheehan's recipe elevates the one you'll find on the back of the cereal box, calling for a whole stick of butter, a little sweetened condensed milk, and an extra cup of mini marshmallows folded in at the end. "It makes for pockets of gooey, slightly melted marshmallows throughout your treats," she says.

Clever Ways to Use Marshmallows

She loves marshmallows so much that Sheehan is sharing six more ways to use marshmallows that will have you hooked on this pillowy treat.

Stabilize Whipped Cream

It's easy to make and the ultimate way to top any dessert, or can even serve as dessert on its own, paired with fresh fruit. Yet the downside of fresh whipped cream is its short lifespan. With the help of marshmallows, you can miraculously create whipped cream that lasts well beyond the typical two hours, says Sheehan. Her recipe for Extremely Special Whipped Cream in Snackable Bakes calls for melting one regular marshmallow (or 15 minis, or 1 tablespoon of fluff) for every cup of heavy cream before whipping. The gelatin works to stabilize the whipped cream, helping it to last nearly a week in the fridge. "It's a gamechanger," says Sheehan.

Jessie Sheehan's Devil's Food Snacking Cake
Credit: Excerpted from Snackable Bakes: Copyright (c) 2022, published by Countryman Press.

Whip Into Fluffy Frosting

Made with butter, vanilla, confectioner's sugar, a container of marshmallow fluff and just a pinch of salt, Sheehan's marshmallow frosting that tops the Devil's Food Snacking Cake in her book is as dreamy as it sounds. The fluffy goodness comes together in only a few minutes in a stand mixer. You won't be able to resist eating a spoonful (or two).

Make Luscious Mousse

Adding marshmallows to her recipe for chocolate mousse doesn't add any noticeable flavor, but lends incredible texture, says Sheehan, who makes a mousse so luscious you'll want to dive right in. The best part? Marshmallows stand in for lengthier, typical mousse-making steps like whipping egg whites or blooming gelatin, helping you get dessert together fast.

Add Texture to Fudge

A container of marshmallow fluff is a key ingredient in many classic fudge recipes. Sheehan takes a different approach, adding mini marshmallows to her recipe for peanut butter fudge right before pouring it into the pan to set. The result? Pillowy marshmallow pieces that add delightful texture. Try it with any fudge recipe.

Star in a Nostalgic Lunch

"Skippy [peanut butter], marshmallow fluff, and Wonderbread—that is heaven in a sandwich," says Sheehan. She recommends always keeping a jar of fluff on hand so you can whip one up at any time. You could also layer mini marshmallows on a sandwich to satisfy a craving in a pinch.

Serve as a Poppable Snack

Considering they're pure sugar, marshmallows are far from health food. Yet the miniature ones are particularly fun to snack on by the handful. Sheehan says for snacking, she much prefers the smaller size. "I like the dry outside of a marshmallow," she says, "and you get much more of that per bite when eating minis."

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