I admit, I am a bit hypocritical eating marshmallows. You know, because I haven't eaten meat in 20-plus years. And while I do identify as vegetarian, marshmallows--unlike myself--are not. Conventional marshmallows have gelatin in them, a substance made from boiled animal bones. That said, I am not sure the vegan or vegetarian ones are much better for me (or you). They are pumped full of things I cannot pronounce and to me, that is just as bad. So here you go...old-fashioned marshmallows.
In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and half of the water. This part is pretty disgusting. The powdered gelatin gels rather quickly and you are left with this transparent, yet yellowish, substance that doesn't move. It doesn't even jiggle. Seriously, the smartest thing Jell-o ever did was having people skip this step. It would've taken a lot more than Bill Cosby to sell this stuff if they hadn't.
Take a cookie sheet or cutting board and cover it with a thin layer of the powdered sugar. I might add that there is really no better way to dirty a clean kitchen than making marshmallows. Seriously! Powdered sugar and gooey marshmallow cream get everywhere. And just when you think you've cleaned it all up, it pops up like a week later--it's like an STD!
In a medium sauce pan, combine the granulated sugar and the remaining water and cook it over a medium heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Add in gelatin (this stuff is gross!) and bring the mixture to a boil over a medium high heat, then removing it from the burner. Be careful, this stuff puffs up when it boils and if you don't keep an eye on it, you'll have a hot mess on your hands in no time--literally.
Add in the salt and vanilla extract.
Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer and whisk it on low for about a minute or two. This is to cool the mixture as you should see a lot of steam exiting the mixing bowl.
When the amount of steam leaving the mixing bowl has subsided a bit, turn the speed up to full throttle. Do this for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture has doubled in size. You'll know it is done because it will be very thick and creamy but not so stiff you cannot work with it.
Pour the mixture onto the sugar-covered flat surface and let it cool. When it has cooled it will be tacky but not fully stick to your finger. At this point, dust the surface with the remaining powdered sugar.
Now cut the marshmallow into whatever shapes you like. More often then not, squares are the best as they will waste the least amount of marshmallow but I used a cookie cutter this time around. I think I may also do some hearts for valentine's day.