It is entirely coincidental that both yesterday and today, I have shared trio recipes – three variations on a common theme. Now that I think about it, this is a thing that I do. Once I find a recipe I really like, a multitude of variations on that concept will just start popping into my head. Usually it happens while I am driving. A couple of weeks ago the idea I was mulling over holiday baking on my way home from work. The idea for chai marshmallows popped into my mind out of absolutely nowhere (though may have been subconsciously related to a box of chai I had received not long ago from the good people at Fair Trade USA.) The warm spices of the chai blended with sweet fluffy marshmallow sounded amazing. As soon as we finished dinner that evening, I went straight into the kitchen and whipped some up. They were, indeed, amazing.

Then it was the giant bag of chai marshmallows sitting on my table without a purpose that led me to the idea of a s’mores bar for dessert at our holiday party. I crossed all of my fingers and toes for days hoping the weather would cooperate and when it did, we were armed and ready with homemade graham crackers, an array of chocolates, and vanilla, chai and peppermint marshmallows. The espresso was a recent addition to the family and seemed a perfect fit for the cold weather holidays. A s’mores bar is really one of the easiest but most fun dessert ideas around. Even after the party I had plenty of marshmallows left over so I packaged up more homemade grahams, chocolate squares, and marshmallows for s’mores in a bag as part of a gift for the kids’ teachers. So easy but so fun. Now if you’ll excuse me, there is a mug of hot cocoa with an espresso marshmallow calling my name…

  • Yield about 64 marshmallows per batch


For the marshmallows:* 

  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 2½ tbsp. (3 packets) unflavored gelatin
  • 1½ cups (12 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch

To make chai ‘mallows: 

  • 1-2 bags chai

To make peppermint ‘mallows: 

  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • Red gel coloring (optional)

To make espresso ‘mallows: 

  • 1 tsp. espresso powder


  • 01

    Place ½ cup of the water in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface to soften.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan with a candy thermometer attached combine the remaining ½ cup water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt.  Cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches 240˚ F.  When this temperature is reached, immediately remove the pan from the heat.

  • 02

    With the whisk attachment on the mixer moving at low speed, slowly add the syrup to the bowl with the gelatin in a drizzle down the side of the bowl.  Once all of the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and whip until the mixture is very thick and lukewarm, about 12-15 minutes.  Blend in the vanilla during the final minute of mixing.

  • 03

    Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and whisk to blend.  Lightly grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan.  Coat the bottom and sides of the pan well with a dusting of the sugar-cornstarch mixture, reserving the rest.  Once the marshmallow mixture is finished whipping, use a lightly greased spatula to spread it into an even layer in the prepared pan.  Sprinkle a layer of the sugar mixture over the top to coat lightly.  Let stand uncovered at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

  • 04

    Remove the marshmallow slab to a cutting board.  Cut into cubes with a pizza cutter (dip in the sugar mixture as needed to prevent sticking.)  Add the marshmallows to a container with the remaining sugar mixture and toss to coat and prevent them from sticking together.

  • 05
    • For chai marshmallows: Follow the recipe as above, adding the bag of chai to the pan with the syrup mixture the entire time it is heating to steep with chai flavor. Use 1 bag for a milder flavor or 2 for a stronger flavor.
    • For peppermint marshmallows: Follow the recipe as above, adding the peppermint extract to the mixer when you add the vanilla extract. The red swirl is completely optional. To add it, stop the mixer when the marshmallow is otherwise completely finished mixing. Add a few drops of the red gel color spread over the bowl. Restart the mixer on low speed and let mix very briefly, just enough to get a marbled look. If you mix too long, they may just be pink (which would also be pretty!)
    • For espresso marshmallows:  Follow the recipe as above. Once the syrup mixture has been added into the mixer bowl with the gelatin, add in the espresso powder before increasing the mixer speed and whipping.