Homemade Marshmallows (Zefir)

5 from 7 votes

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These unbelievably light and airy homemade marshmallows (zefir) are surprisingly easy to make. I’m sharing all the tips so you can create these stunning dessert on your own!

How impressive are these beautiful Russian homemade marshmallows? Besides the impressive look, they’re super delicate and simply melt in your mouth.

Seriously, these marshmallow rosettes (zefir, in Russian) bring so much nostalgia. If you’ve been around for a little bit, you know that Russian cuisine is near and dear to my heart, because it was a major part of my childhood.

And, today, I’m so excited to share one of my favorite childhood sweets – Russian marshmallows.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

Unlike American marshmallows, this marshmallow recipe calls for fruit puree, egg white and agar agar. I’ll break down the ingredients and their roles in a little bit.

These fruity marshmallows:

  • are unbelievably light and airy – They simply melt in your mouth as you bite into them!
  • have the most delicate flavor with a hint of berry.
  • are not cloyingly sweet – a pinch of salt balances the sweetness!
  • are easy to make and pipe into different designs!

Zefir Ingredients:

Besides one special ingredient (agar agar), you’ll need pretty much basic pantry staples. Let’s discuss each of them:

  • Fruit puree – You can use absolutely any kind of fruit puree here. I usually cook fresh or frozen berries with a little bit of sugar, then strain it for a smooth texture. You can easily use applesauce or apple butter too! You’ll need about 250g of puree for this recipe.
  • Egg whites – Egg whites make these marshmallows super light and also makes the batter easy to manage and pipe into different designs. Carton egg whites work great.
  • Sugar – Just a regular granulated sugar. Please don’t be tempted to reduce the sugar amount any more than called for, or the marshmallows won’t set properly.
  • Agar agar – It’s a setting (or gelling) agent similar to gelatin. I’m using agar powder, which is the easiest to use. (More info below.)

Tip

It’s best to use fruit puree made with acidic fruits, like green apple sauce, cranberry puree.

But strawberry, blueberry and blackberry purees work great too! Make sure the puree is nice and thick.

What is agar agar?

Agar agar (or just agar) is a plant derived setting agent, which makes it a great vegan-friendly alternative to gelatin.

Agar agar comes in different forms: powder, flakes, strands, and even bars. In my opinion, agar powder is the easiest to work with, as it dissolves in liquid pretty much instantly. Whereas, agar flakes and strands need to be soaked in water for a little bit before boiling.

Agar activates when it’s dissolved in water and boiled to at least 110°F (40°C).

Also, different agar agar brands have different strengths. For this recipe, you’ll need agar agar with strength of 700-900g/cm2.

How much agar agar to use:

General rule of thumb: 1 teaspoon agar powder for 1 cup of liquid.

How to Make Homemade Marshmallows/Zefir:

Before you begin: Gather all the ingredients and tools before you begin the process, because everything goes pretty quickly.

And you need start piping the batter as soon as it’s ready. That’s why it’s crucial to prepare the piping bags and tips, baking sheets ready to go as well!

Step 1. Prepare fruit puree

  1. In a 1.5qt saucepan, cook fresh or frozen fruits (I, typically, use strawberries, blueberries or blackberries) over medium high heat.
  2. Once boiling, add sugar and cook for about 10 minutes. Mash the fruits, as you cook.
  3. Then strain the puree to make it nice and smooth, then cool completely.

Tip

Make sure to cook off excess moisture as much as possible. You want thicker puree.

You can also make this 1-2 days in advance and keep it in the fridge.

Step 2. Make sugar syrup

  1. Combine water, sugar and agar in a medium saucepan (at least 2qt).
  2. Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Once the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring and increase the heat to medium.
  4. Cook the mixture until 240°F (115°C), about 10 minutes. When the syrup reaches 225°F (105°C), start making the meringue.

Tip

Sugar syrup will bubble up vigorously, that’s why it’s important to choose adequate size saucepan.

Don’t be tempted to cook the sugar syrup on high heat, as it’ll overcook the syrup which will cause all kinds of issues, like sugar crystals in the marshmallow.

Step 3. Prepare meringue

  1. Make sure the mixing bowl and whisk are squeaky clean and grease-free. And make sure no yolk gets in the whites.
  2. Combine egg whites and cooled fruit puree and whisk on low speed until foamy.
  3. Increase the speed to medium low and start adding sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until soft peaks form.

Step 4. Make marshmallow batter and pipe

  1. Slowly pour in the sugar syrup into the meringue, as the mixer is running on medium speed. Aim the syrup toward the side of the bowl, instead of the whisk.
  2. Once all the syrup is poured in (don’t scrape the bowl), increase the speed to medium high and beat the mixture until hard peaks form.
  3. Immediately transfer the batter into a piping bag and pipe into tall rosettes.
  4. Let rest and set for 8-12 hours. Then dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

How to store marshmallows:

Once marshmallows (zefir) dried for 8-12 hours and dusted with powdered sugar, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.

Can you freeze homemade marshmallows (zefir)?

This specific marshmallows don’t freeze well. They get gummy and weird.

Troubleshooting Homemade Marshmallows:

Why my marshmallows don’t hold their shape well?

If the marshmallows don’t hold their shape, it’s mostly likely due to the meringue wasn’t whipped till hard peaks.

Why my marshmallow batter is separated?

There’re a few things cause marshmallow batter to separate, where you’ll see liquid in the bowl.

  • Meringue was under-whipped when syrup was added.
  • Meringue was over-beaten when syrup was added.
  • Marshmallow batter was over-beaten after the syrup was added.

Why my marshmallows are soft and sticky even after 8-10 hours?

A few possible reasons for soft and sticky marshmallows:

  • Fruit puree had too much moisture.
  • Most likely, the sugar syrup wasn’t cooked long enough.
  • Or syrup was poured into the meringue too fast.

Why my marshmallows got wet on the bottom after setting?

2 possible reasons:

  • The fruit puree was too runny.
  • The marshmallow mixture wasn’t whipped long enough to cool completely.
5 from 7 votes

Homemade Marshmallows (Zefir)

These unbelievably light and airy homemade marshmallows (zefir) are surprisingly easy to make. I'm sharing all the tips so you can create these stunning dessert on your own!
resting: 12 hours
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 36 rosettes

Ingredients

Strawberry Puree:

  • 7 oz (200g) strawberries frozen or fresh
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Marshmallow:

  • 1 egg white Note 1
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup (300g) sugar divided
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 3 teaspoons agar agar Note 2

Equipment

  • Stand mixer
  • Candy thermometer
  • 2qt saucepan
  • 18" Pastry bag
  • Piping tip (I used Wilton M1)

Instructions 

  • To make strawberry puree, in a medium saucepan, cook fresh or frozen strawberries with 1 tablespoon of sugar over medium high heat for 10-15 minutes. (15 minutes if you’re using frozen berries.) Mash the fruits as they cook.
  • Run the mixture through a sieve. (Note: You should have about 250g of puree.) Cool completely and then chill in the fridge. It’s best if you make it a day in advance.
  • Prepare the tools before you begin: set a piping bag with decorative tip in a tall glass, so it's easy to fill with batter. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  • To make sugar syrup, in a medium saucepan, combine 200g of sugar, agar and water. Stir everything well and cook over medium heat until 240°F, about 10 minutes. (TIP: Don’t stir it after the initial stir.)
  • When the sugar syrup reaches 200°F, start making the meringue. (Next step.)
  • To make the meringue, in a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, combine strawberry puree with egg white and salt. Beat the mixture on low speed until nice and foamy.
  • Once it’s foamy and pale, increase the speed to medium and start adding the remaining 100g of sugar one tablespoon at a time. Whip the meringue until soft peaks form.
  • When the syrup reaches 240°F, remove from heat and let the bubbles subside, no more than half a minute.
  • To make marshmallows, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the meringue, while mixer is running on medium high speed. (NOTE: Don’t pour the hot syrup into the whisk, aim it toward the side of the bowl, so it doesn’t splatter.)
  • Don’t scrape the hot syrup from the saucepan.
  • Once all the syrup is poured in, increase the speed to medium high and whip until hard peaks form, 3-5 minutes.
  • Immediately transfer the mixture into the prepared piping bag with decorative tip. (I love using Wilton 1M for this.)
  • Pipe 2-inch round rosettes (about 1 inch tall) on the prepared baking sheets. Let them set for at least 8-12 hours. I usually make this at night, so they set overnight.
  • Then dust the marshmallows with plenty of powdered sugar and enjoy!

Tips & Notes

Yield: 3 dozen rosettes (The total number of marshmallow rosettes depends on how big and tall they are.)
Note 1: Carton egg whites work great too. You’ll need 35-40g of egg whites.
Note 2: I purchased this agar agar from amazon.com. The strength is 700g/cm2.

Nutrition

Servings: 3 rosettes
Calories: 107kcal
Carbohydrates: 27g
Protein: 1g
Fat: 1g
Sugar: 27g
Sodium: 54mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: russian

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

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29 Comments

  1. Hello, I am a bit confused about the amount of fruit puree. the recipe calls for 200 grams of fruit and about 12 grams of sugar- this is not even 250 grams before cooking, so after reduction, how am I supposed to have 250 grams?

    1. Hi, Haidyn. I suppose you could. The main thing is the egg whites should have no contact with fat/yolk.

    2. Hi, Haidyn. I suppose you could. The main thing is the egg whites should have no contact with any fat/yolk.

  2. Can this recipe be made with jello mixture instead of puree like some other Zefir recipes? If so do you have any recommendations for measurements? Thank you!

  3. Hi can I ask why is 3 teaspoons of agar used to 1/2 cup water ,it says otherwise further up ,sorry am a bit confused 😍 I would like to make these and don’t want to get it wrong ,thank you

      1. I think she meant that in your explanation higher up, you mentioned that the general rule of thumb is to use 1 teaspoon of agar per cup of liquid…but in your recipe, you’re advising 3 tsp of agar to 1/2 cup water. But I think it’s because the fruit puree also contributes to liquid in this recipe.

        1. Oooh, I see! Now it makes sense. Thanks, Krystal.
          So, water isn’t the only liquid here, egg white and fruit puree are also counted toward liquids.

    1. The agar guideline she gave is 1 tsp to 1 c. liquid, but the water in the recipe is not the only liquid that needs to be set… the fruit puree and even egg whites might count as liquids when figuring out your agar agar amounts…

    1. Hi, Chris. Yes, absolutely. I recommend making it a day in advance to allow enough time to chill the puree. More details are in Step 2 in the recipe card.

  4. 5 stars
    Hi
    I’ve used you recipe twice now and even asked to make some for someone’s birthday, I used gelatin leaf instead of agar and came out just as good I sussed out it’s 6 gelatin leafs for 2 agar spoons and I prefer this recipe than any other marshamallow one I’ve used xx

    1. Ah, so happy you loved my recipe, Fiona! And I’m glad gelatin works great!! Thank you for sharing your feedback!!!

      1. Hi
        Not a problem we used them also for s’mores and also made some for work as a treat and great reviews! I like to challenge myself and see if I can do it and you can lol

      1. Hi, I made it but after 18 hours it didnt get harden. What may be the problem? Must I mix the batter until it gets cool after adding the syrup?

    1. Yay, so happy you loved the result. Thank you for trying my recipe and sharing your feedback, Katherine!

    1. Hi, Eri. I usually store them in a fridge in an airtight container. But they’re fine at room temperate (also in an airtight container) for a day.
      P.S. This information was included in the post above the recipe.

      1. Amazing ! Can i make flowers with this recipe …

        And for how long they will last in an airtight container if the fridge ? When do they go bad ?

  5. I will have to try, I love Zefir but you can’t get it here where we live. Thanks for such detailed instructions. Your pictures are so beautiful!!

    1. Thank you so much, Mila. It’s been years since I had homemade marshmallows. Then I’ve made 4 batches in the last 2 months. 🙂 Hope you’ll give it a try.