Celebrate anytime with buttery, sprinkle-coated birthday cake marshmallows. They’re easier to make than you think even with no box mix required.
Pillowy soft, these homemade marshmallows are tasty enough to eat on their own, but also make a fun addition to s’mores, hot cocoa, birthday cakes, and so much more.
What Makes these Marshmallows So Great
Considering just how much of a sweets addict I am, I just don’t get most ‘birthday cake’ and ‘funfetti’ recipes.
Other than actual cake, that is.
Try to convince me otherwise, but adding a bit of cake mix and sprinkles to a recipe does NOT affect the flavor enough for me to use the term ‘birthday cake’.
When I think of birthday cake, I think of rich, buttery flavor, with creamy vanilla frosting. And, yes, plenty of sprinkles.
Not flour – which is the main ingredient in all boxed cake mixes.
I just don’t use those mixes to create ‘birthday cake’ creations…unless it’s turning into an actual birthday cake.
So you can rest assured that these birthday cake marshmallows get their name not from the addition of cake mix…but from the buttery flavor you expect to actually taste in your birthday cake.
And, of course, lots of sprinkles.
- Soft and springy
- Full of vanilla and buttery cake flavor
- As many (or as few) sprinkles as you want
What You’ll Need:
- 1/2 C powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1/2 C + 2 T cold water (for gelatin)
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 1.5 tsp butter extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 3 packs unflavored gelatin
- 3/4 C water (for syrup)
- 1/2 C corn syrup
- 1.5 C granulated sugar
- 9×9 square baking pan
- parchment paper
- Butter flavored cooking spray
- Silicone spatula (strongly recommend getting a seamless spatula)
- 6-inch offset spatula
- Stand Mixer
- Candy thermometer
- measuring cups and spoons
- fine mesh sieve
- 3-quart saucepan
- serrated knife (bread knife)
- air-tight container for storage
A Few Notes to remember:
Cornstarch: While powdered sugar frequently has cornstarch in it already, the extra cornstarch is added to prevent the powdered sugar from caking on the sticky marshmallow. Without it, marshmallows will often end up too sticky to handle.
To Corn Syrup or Not: I’ve made marshmallows with and without corn syrup. Using natural ingredients like maple syrup will slightly alter the flavor, which is why I opted for corn syrup in this recipe.
Candy Thermometer vs. Digital Thermometer: You’ll notice in the photos below that I didn’t actually use a candy thermometer.
We’ve owned two, and both of them were wildly inaccurate. That’s a recipe for disaster in candy making. That said, be very careful with a digital thermometer around hot candy. You really don’t want to burn yourself on hot syrup.
To make things easy for you, I’ve got a photo tutorial right here to show the entire process. You can also watch the tutorial in the video player in this post or over here on YouTube to see the entire process.
For a detailed step-by-step process with all the measurements you need, you’ll want to check out the recipe card at the bottom of this page.
Before Getting Started: Prepare a 9×9 pan with criss-crossing sheets of parchment paper and a little bit of butter flavored cooking spray.
Step 1: Whisk the dry ingredients – Make sure there are no big lumps left
Step 2: Dust your pan using a small amount of the powdered sugar mixture from step 1.
Step 3: Let the gelatin bloom – Combine the water and extracts in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin on top
Step 4: Make the syrup – Combine water, corn syrup, and granulated sugar into a 3-quart or larger saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 240°F.
Step 5: Temper the gelatin – Pour a small amount of the syrup into the gelatin mixture. Whisk on low.
Step 6: Whisk in the remaining syrup – Slowly add the remaining syrup. When combined, increase speed to high and beat until tripled in volume and fluffy. Add a tablespoon or two of sprinkles to the mixture and whisk until just combined.
Step 7: Pour into the prepared pan. Use a spatula that’s been sprayed with butter flavored spray to get the marshmallow fluff into the pan and smooth out the top.
Step 8: Add sprinkles to the top of the mixture and let sit for at least 3 hours or overnight until set.
Step 9: Remove the marshmallows from the pan by lifting them out with the edges of the parchment paper
Step 10: Cut the marshmallows into 1-2 inch cubes with a serrated knife.
Step 11: Toss the marshmallows in the remaining powdered sugar mixture to reduce stickiness.
Don’t skip these tips – read them before you start cooking to avoid any potential mistakes.
Tip #1: Resist the Urge to Stir the Syrup while it boils
Stirring the syrup while it boils will cause the sugar to crystallize, which will ruin the texture of the marshmallows. No one wants that.
Tip #2: Don’t cover the marshmallows as they set
The marshmallows need air circulation to let the excess moisture evaporate. Also…if you cover the pan it will stick to the top of the marshmallow and ruin your smooth surface.
Tip #3: Have warm water available when cutting the marshmallows
Marshmallows are sticky business. There’s just no getting around that. Which is why it’s helpful to rinse your knife off every now and then with warm water. Then give it a wipe with a paper towel and get back to slicing.
Why did the temperature stop rising?
When boiling a sugar syrup it’s not uncommon for the temperature to stall at different intervals (mine always seems to stall at 225˚F).
Be patient, keep an eye on it, and give it some time. The temperature will start rising again.
How long will the marshmallows last?
These marshmallows are best if eaten within a few days, but will keep for up to two weeks if kept in an airtight container.
What to serve birthday cake marshmallows with?
Honestly, these marshmallows are tasty enough to have right on their own. But if you’re looking to make more fun treats with them, you can also use them:
- Inside s’mores,
- To top chocolate shakes,
- To top off cakes, and
- In hot chocolate
Or you can check out all my other desserts right here.
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons butter extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 3/4 ounce unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1.5 cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons multicolored sprinkles
- Cut two pieces of parchment paper just the width of a 9-inch square pan, but long enough to curl up and over both sides of the pan.
- Layer the two pieces of parchment paper in the pan in opposite directions. Make sure you crease the paper into the bottom corners.
Tip: A bit of cooking spray between the two layers helps hold the parchment paper in place.
- Spray the top layer of parchment with a light coat of butter-flavored cooking spray to help the marshmallow mixture separate after setting.
- Prepare a silicone spatula and a small (6-inch) offset spatula with butter-flavored cooking spray.
Prepare the Marshmallow Coating:
- In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup cornstarch. Make sure there are no big lumps left.
- Using a sieve, sprinkle a small amount of powdered sugar mixture (about 1/8 cup) onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Set the remaining mixture aside.
Prepare the Gelatin Mixture:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cold water, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 1/2 teaspoons butter extract, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.
- Sprinkle 3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin (about 3/4 ounce) on top of the liquid. Set aside to bloom.
Make the Syrup:
- Combine 3/4 cup water, 1 1/4 cup corn syrup, and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar into a 3-quart or larger saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.
- Allow the mixture to boil, without stirring. Use a digital or candy thermometer to watch the temperature of the sugar mixture, and continue boiling until the mixture reaches 240°F, about 8-10 minutes.
Make the Marshmallow Mixture:
- Pour a small amount of the hot syrup into gelatin mixture and whisk on low.
- Slowly add the remaining syrup. When combined, increase speed to high and beat until tripled in volume and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
- Add 1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles to the mixture and combine on low speed until distributed throughout.
- Using prepared silicone spatula, scrape the marshmallow mixture into the parchment covered pan. Use the prepared offset spatula to smooth out the top then cover generously with remaining rainbow sprinkles.
- Set aside to cool at room temperature for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Cut the marshmallows:
- When the marshmallows have completely set, use the sides of the parchment paper to pull the marshmallow block from the pan and place on a cutting board.
- Use a serrated knife to cut the marshmallows into 1 to 2-inch squares.
- Toss the marshmallows in the remaining powdered sugar mixture.
- Resist the urge to stir the sugar as it boils. Doing so will cause the sugar to crystallize and will ruin the texture of the marshmallows.
- Do not cover the marshmallows as they set. Any covering will stick to the top of the marshmallows and ruin the smoothed out top
- Keep warm water at-hand while cutting to rinse off your knife if it gets too sticky.
- Marshmallows are best if eaten within a few days, but will keep for a month or so if kept in an airtight container.
Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
This post was originally published on April 5, 2018. It has been updated with new photos, tips, FAQs, and detailed step-by-step instructions.