I basically followed the recipe here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-marshmallows-recipe/index.html.
I also watched "Puff the Magic Mallow" before proceeding (in 3 parts)
So, on to the actual recipe I followed (you knew I couldn't just leave well enough alone, right?)
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold coffee, divided
2 cups sugar
Somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup molasses
1 big pinch of salt
vanilla extract to taste
First, set the gelatin to soften in 1/2 cup of the cold coffee in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, or whatever bowl you will be using to mix up the marshmallow. Use a pretty sizable bowl.
Line your pan of choice with foil, spray down with nonstick spray, and liberally coat with cocoa powder (or another powder of your choice).
In a 2 quart sauce pan, place the other 1/2 cup of coffee, sugar, cocoa powder, molasses, and salt, stir to combine and heat on medium-high heat until the mixture reaches anywhere between 240 and 250 degrees. A thermometer is rather important to candy making! I use an infrared digital thermometer from home depot. The mixture will start to sort of foam up as the bubbles after awhile pile on top of one another. Remove the sugar mixture from the heat, it will remain pourable for a good several minutes (maybe up to 15 minutes would be my guess).
Turn the mixer on the now solidified gelatin on low to medium speed. SLOWLY pour the molten sugar down the SIDE of the mixing bowl, do not get it on the beaters unless you want hot, sticky, liquid sugar all over the place and possibly on you (not as wonderful as it sounds I assure you....). This will melt the gelatin, and the mixture will look an ugly brown colour. It gets better.
Once you have mixed all the sugar syrup in, crank the mixer to high, as high as you can (a high sided bowl is great here) to work as many bubbles into the mixture as you possibly can. You can add the vanilla extract (imitation or real) at any point now. Whip and whip and whip for about 10-15 minutes. When it is done the mixture will be a much prettier shade of light brown, puffy, and the top will start to pull away just a little bit from the side at the top. Trust me you will see a difference in the shape of the top of the mixture.
Now fanagle the sticky, puffy mixture into your pan. I'd suggest using a flat, flexible implement coated in nonstick spray. Smooth it as well as you can. Mine was not even in thickness, but hey that's cool, we're not some big candy factory. I really rather liked the swished top that came about.
Let this set for at least 4 hours (or overnight). I next liberally sprinkled the top with cocoa powder (remember, we are working with a sticky substance here). Set down a sheet of foil, and flip the marshmallow onto it, and remove the foil that was in the pan. Now take a cutting implement such as a pizza cutter or tall knife, coat in spray, and commence to cutting. You may have to re-coat at some point.
Pull the marshmallows apart. Some of them may stick a little bit, but if you pull gently they should pull cleanly away from each other and the foil. The key is to pull GENTLY. Finally, get a little cocoa powder and dip each cut side into the powder and sort of pounce against your hand to both remove the excess cocoa powder and distribute it onto the slightly uneven surface.
That's it! You are done! Now enjoy these not-too-sweet marshmallows, and don't forget to share! :D
Here is the 'mallow after sitting overnight. The thickness is not even, but who cares? I love that swishy top.
Mmmm, beautiful swishy top. I didn't quite want to cut it.
Sprinkled the top with cocoa powder before flipping out onto another piece of foil. If you are worried about sticking, you can smooth it on with your hand to get the cocoa really distributed well. I didn't bother though, and only had a couple of spots stick, and even those spots pulled off without much trouble. I would not try this without any powder whatsoever though. Pulling up the occasional spot isn't so bad, but I'd hate to have to pull off the entire thing. The top will be a bit less tacky than the rest of the marshmallow as it will have dried slightly.
Here is the mondo' 'mallow turned out onto a new piece of foil, you can see the cocoa powder on the outside from the pan. I really REALLY did not want this stuff sticking to my cutting board. I bet a glass sandwich or cutting board would work well too, as they are non-porous.
I cut these with a lubed butcher knife. They are not quite pretty yet.
Here are the finished marshmallows after I dipped the cut sides into cocoa powder and tossed each one against my hand to evenly, thinly distribute the cocoa powder.
The corner pieces were a bit taller and had a pretty outer texture.
These are really springy and bounce when dropped on a plate.