Your kids may be amazed to learn that a few simple ingredients and a cookie cutter are all it takes to create their own marshmallows in fun shapes. Paired with homemade hot cocoa, they'll make a perfect treat on any cold winters night.
Pour the 1/3 cup of cold water into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it, and set it aside.
Combine the sugar, 1/4 cup of water, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until dissolved. Stop stirring and heat the mixture (adults only) until it boils and reaches 240º on a candy thermometer.
Carefully pour the hot syrup (again, a parents job) over the gelatin and beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 12 minutes. Blend in the vanilla extract, then scrape the batter into a 9- by 13-inch pan lightly coated with cooking spray.
Let the marshmallows sit until they're dry to the touch (this may take up to 12 hours depending on the humidity in your area).
Invert the pan onto a cutting board dusted with confectioners sugar. Pour the colored sugar onto a plate or shallow dish, then use 2-inch cookie cutters to cut the marshmallow into shapes. Press the top of each marshmallow into the colored sugar. Store in an airtight container. Makes twenty-four 2-inch marshmallows.