I love marshmallows. Making them feels like alchemy – taking all these everyday ingredients, boiling them in a gigantic pot and whipping them up into fluffy little candied clouds. However, like many things in life, the road to marshmallow perfection has been paved in gloopy disaster (including one trip to the local supermarket last week where I bumped into my next door neighbour, and she politely pointed out that I had gigantic dollops of congealed marshmallow in my hair and on the tip of my nose.)
After much, much trial and error, I have come to realise that you need three key things if you want
to be a record breaker attain marshmallow perfection. These are:
- Egg whites: While I am sure that there are some fantastic marshmallow recipes out there that do not require egg whites, I’ve yet to find them. And every time I’ve attempted to make marshmallows without them, it’s left my kitchen looking as though it’s been attacked by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. As it is, they add a nice wobble to your finished product, and an even nicer level of structural integrity.
- Cornstarch and icing sugar: I nabbed this trick from the baking genius which is David Lebovitz. Dusting a silicon mould in a mixture of cornstarch and icing sugar helps to stop the mixture sticking too much, and makes it easier to cut once set. Rolling the finished squares in this also helps, as it helps to dry them out and make them easier to work with.
- Patience: Making marshmallows requires time, patience and a hell of a lot of swear words. They’re not exactly the kind of thing you can whip up at 8pm on a Wednesday evening to take into work the next day. Give yourself a good day or so to make these, and you will be richly rewarded.
As it is, my own spin on marshmallow perfection is a combination of methodology from the aforementioned David Lebovitz, Eat Like a Girl and Delicious magazine, and flavouring inspiration from Joy the Baker . I made this particular batch to support my entry in Hamburger Queen, a fantastic talent show for fat people (like myself) which also saw me donning a blonde wig and a blow-up sax and rolling around on a stage to Bryan Ferry’s Jealous Guy. While (sadly) I didn’t win (the winner made a truly amazing red velvet cake in the shape of Divine, and if that hadn’t won, I would have demanded a judge’s recusal) , these were consumed by both judges and audience members with almost indecent haste. Which, quite frankly, is reward enough for me.
CHOCOLATE DIPPED GINGERBREAD MARSHMALLOWS (Makes 35 – 40 medium sized marshmallows)
You will need:
- 4 egg whites
- 120 ml cold water
- 3 sachets (27 g) powdered gelatine
- 440 g caster sugar
- 160 ml golden syrup
- 1 tbsp ginger cordial
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
For the dip
- 100 g good quality dark chocolate
- 7 – 8 gingernut biscuits
- Dissolve the gelatine in the water and set to one side.
- Combine the caster sugar and golden syrup in a pan with 80ml water. Wipe down the sides of a pan with a wet pastry brush, so that the mixture doesn’t crystallise when you’re heating it. Cook over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Then turn up the heat until the mixture begins to boil. Monitor the temperature with a candy thermometer until it reaches 130°C. (Try not to take your eye off the pan, as it will get hot very quickly. If the mixture goes over 130°C, then it won’t set properly.) Take the pan off the heat and leave for a minute.
- While the sugar mixture is cooking, whip your egg whites (you’ll need a heavy duty mixer for this I’m afraid) with a pinch of salt until they become light and fluffy. Increase the speed of the mixer to high, before slowly and carefully pouring the hot sugar mixture into the bowl. (Try not to let it stick to the whisk or the sides of the mixer, as it’s a bugger to clean off afterwards.) Add the gelatine and flavourings, and continue to whip until the mixture is completely cool, and is forming stretchy bubblegum-like strands.
- Combine the cornflour and icing sugar in a bowl, and use it to dust a silicon baking tray until there are absolutely no bare spots. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the tray and leave it to set for 4 – 6 hours (preferably overnight if you have the time.)
- Once the marshmallows have set, dust a piece of baking paper with the leftover cornflour and icing sugar mixture, and remove from the baking tray. Slice them into squares with a lightly oiled palette knife, before rolling them in the mixture.
- Chop the dark chocolate into squares, and melt it in a bowl over a pot of boiling water. Crush the gingernut biscuits either by wrapping them in a teatowel and bashing the living daylights out of them with a rolling pin, or by mashing them up in a pestle and mortar. Dip each of the marshmallows in the melted chocolate before sprinkling them liberally with the gingernut crumbs. Allow to set.
- These should keep for around a week, but quite frankly, it will be a miracle if they last that long.