Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Never mind that I second guessed myself at every turn during this recipe. Also, never mind the fact that while I was making these I was entirely certain that if I were to spill some of the molten hot sugar syrup down myself, no one would have been around the house to hear me scream, let alone take me to a hospital.

Because frankly, all things considered, it was worth it. There aren’t many recipes that actually make you feel like a kid again, or let you so vividly recall how fun it can be to get messy.

Before embarking on the making of these marshmallows, I wasn’t entirely certain that the end product would be much different from the countless marshmallow experiences I’ve had to date. Then, when I actually ate one, I realized that I’d clearly never had a homemade marshmallow before. The texture is so much more satisfying—chewy yet airy—unlike the over-dried packaged ones. And while it was a bit unnerving working with things I generally tend to avoid (i.e., liquid glucose and cornstarch), the process itself was not inherently difficult.

Essentially, marshmallows are just an Italian meringue with gelatin added to the syrup to allow the mixture to hold its shape once it’s dried.
And if you know me at all, you know exactly what I did once they were done…

Later that day, when I had some friends over for dinner, what had previously been a perfectly polite meal turned into a competition of who could make the biggest mess of themselves when I unveiled these for dessert…

And then this happened…
Proust, you can keep your madeleines—I’ll take the marshmallow.

Marshmallows (adapted from James Martin’s Great British Winter Cookbook)
650g Sugar
2 Tbsp. liquid glucose
3 Egg whites
14 Leaves of gelatin
2 tsp Vanilla extract
3 Tbsp Powdered sugar
3 Tbsp Cornstarch
Special Equipment:
Electric mixer
Candy thermometer
Directions: Sift together the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Grease a 10x10-inch baking pan with cooking spray then dust with the cornstarch mixture. Soak the gelatin leaves in 150mL cold water. Pour the sugar, liquid glucose and 200mL water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place over medium-high heat and insert your candy thermometer. The sugar mixture needs to come up to 127 degrees C/260 degrees F (also known as hardball stage)—this will take about 10 minutes. While the sugar is cooking, beat the egg whites in a large heat-proof bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. When the sugar syrup reaches hardball stage, remove it from the heat. Very carefully, slide in the softened gelatin and its water—the mixture will bubble up, so don’t burn yourself. Stir to dissolve the gelatin. With the mixer running, slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites in a small stream, taking care not to cook the eggs. When the syrup is added, the mixture will deflate slightly, but continue mixing for about 10 minutes longer until it starts to stiffen up again. When the mixture holds a soft peak, scrape into the greased and dusted baking dish and allow to cool completely, about an hour. Dust a kitchen surface well with some of the cornstarch mixture, and then tip the marshmallow onto it. Dust a knife and cut into cubes, rolling each one individually so it is no longer sticky, but patting away excess cornstarch. Allow to dry a further hour before storing in an airtight container.

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