Canaan Smith was 4 years old when he made his first batch of homemade marshmallows.
One day, while talking to his mother about his favorite food, he wondered whether marshmallows came in peach and raspberry flavors. Megan Smith told her son she didn't think so, but they could try to make them.
"We looked up recipes and experimented," she said. "We love to cook. ... We make our own cheese. Nothing is out of the realm of doing it ourselves."
So mom and Canaan, along with dad Mike, made batch after batch of marshmallows. Friends, teachers and classmates received bags of them at Christmas and for birthdays and other special occasions.
As a teaching opportunity, Mike Smith took his son to the grocery store to price ingredients, so Canaan could learn how much each batch cost. Eventually, they bought bags to put their marshmallows in, and Canaan drew a logo with a cup of hot cocoa, a marshmallow and, in his own handwriting, "The Marshmallows Company."
Then he added: "homemade, all natural fluffy goodness."
"He wanted to have a little hand in every little aspect of it," Megan Smith said.
Now 7, Canaan has learned most of the process by himself, but his dad still has to do the cooking.
Before he begins, Canaan posts the recipe on the refrigerator door, sanitizes the counter tops and his hands, and dons an apron.
"In a mixing bowl, you put in water, vanilla extract and then gelatin, four packs of gelatin. In a pot, we put in sugar and water and Karo corn syrup, and boil to soft-ball stage," Canaan said. "My dad does that."
For Christmas, Canaan asked his grandparents for a candy thermometer with an alarm so his dad wouldn't have to stand guard over the pot.
Once the mixture reaches 234 degrees, it goes into another mixing bowl.
"We mix it for 8 to 10 minutes until it's really fluffy," Canaan said. "If making peppermint marshmallows, put the peppermint in when it's mixing so it doesn't turn to steam and float away."
The hot mixture is poured into a pan to stand overnight.
"You cut them in the morning, with a knife," Canaan said. After they're sliced into squares, the marshmallows are covered with powdered sugar and allowed to set for 30 to 50 minutes before being placed in bags.
"You put 12 in each package and you label them and you're ready to go," he said. Canaan's brother, Ezra, 3, helps put the marshmallows in bags.
Plain and peppermint are the flavors Canaan makes most often, but he has experimented with raspberry, strawberry and pumpkin pie flavors.
This summer, he might try lemon pie, as he dreams of "making millions of marshmallows so you can make millions of s'mores," he said.
Canaan's Web site is www.themarshmallowscompany.com.
This recipe for homemade marshmallows is from Martha Stewart Living.
Non-stick cooking spray
3 1/4-ounce packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2⁄3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Confectioners' sugar, sifted, for coating
Lightly spray 9-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water; let stand 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; boil rapidly for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and, with mixer on high, slowly pour boiling syrup down side of mixer bowl into gelatin mixture. Add salt and continue mixing for 12 minutes.
Add peppermint extract and mix until well combined. Spray a rubber spatula or your hands with cooking spray, then spread gelatin mixture evenly into pan.
Spray sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place it, sprayed side down, on top of marshmallows. Let stand for 2 hours.
Remove marshmallows from pan. Remove all plastic wrap and discard. Cut marshmallows into 2-inch squares using sharp knife sprayed with cooking oil. Place confectioners' sugar in large bowl. Working in batches, add marshmallows to bowl, and toss to coat. Marshmallows may be stored in an airtight container for 3 days. Makes about 16 marshmallows.