Sometimes, when caught up with the rat race of life, I completely forget to put things on this website that I really should have done. This is one of those times.
May I present to you my favourite thing to make in the whole wide world, Marshmallows! Not those rubbery things you get from pick & mix sections or those hard little pink and white bullets found atop cheap hot chocolates from chain coffee shops.
The Marshmallow recipe I am here to teach you today results in what can only be described as an edible sweet cloud. Fluffy, light and perfectly sweet these little treats impress everyone you serve them too time and time again.
A variation on Italian Meringue, Marshmallows are simply egg whites and a very hot sugar solution which is then set with a few sheets of gelatine. If you are against using gelatine, then you could probably try using Agar powder instead but I am afraid you are on your own when it comes to measurements.
Hugely adaptable, these little wonders take on flavours perfectly meaning you can experiment a hundred different ways. I have made vanilla ones topped with caramel and chocolate ganache, lemon curd and meringue ones and even maple syrup and bacon versions! That’s only touching the very tip of the mallow-burg!
The even better thing about these, and something that I may live to regret admitting, is that they are incredibly easy to make. Ridiculously, stupidly, amazingly easy. The only caveat is the one piece of baking equipment that you must own to do this, a Sugar thermometer.
Easily found in any town centre or very cheaply on eBay, a sugar thermometer is used in nearly all my baking. From buttercreams to macaroons, precise temperature control is vital when dealing with boiling sugar solutions. You can buy a fancy digital one if you like but my 99p analogue one will do exactly the same thing!
The only other thing to mention before I give the recipe is to BE CAREFUL. You will be heating sugar to well past the boiling point of water and this stuff will stick to anything it can, especially your skin! Just remember to take your time and not rush yourself. Baking should be a hobby, not a chore.
I have used freeze dried raspberry powder in this recipe along with some freeze fried strawberries. These were very generously supplied to me by my good friends over at Healthy Supplies who I heartily recommend for such things. I know that all of us Ex-Bake-Off crew use them religiously for all things freeze dried!
So if you don’t already have one, go buy a thermometer and then go make up your first of many batches of ‘mallows. It will be the best thing you have done this week.
2 large free-range egg whites
500g white caster sugar
250ml cold water
7 leaves of sheet gelatine – soaked in cold water
50g dried strawberries
50g dried blueberries
25g freeze dried blueberries (these give a stronger taste)
25g freeze dried strawberry powder (you can change any of these fruits to suit your taste)
Place the sugar and water into a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Stir the sugar at the very beginning to mix it into the water and then remove the spoon, insert the thermometer and then leave the thing alone. If you touch or disturb the pan when it is boiling then you risk crystallizing the sugar and ruining all your hard work.
Place the egg whites into a bowl, ideally of a stand mixer but you can do this with an electric hand whisk if needed. Wait until the sugar hits 110c before you start whisking your egg whites as this will prevent them from sitting too long whilst you wait.
When the sugar reached 121c (known as the hard ball stage) immediately remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer running on low, very slowly pour the sugar onto the egg whites. If using an electric hand whisk then pour a little sugar, mix it in, pour some more and so on.
Once all the sugar has been added, squeeze all the water out of the gelatin and add to the mixture. The residual heat will melt the gelatin almost immediately.
Turn the mixer back up to high and run it until the whole thing has cooled to room temperature. This will take around 10mins. In the meantime, line a 10” square tin with baking paper, gently brush the paper with oil and then dust with the icing sugar\cornflour mix using a sieve. This will make the mallows a lot easier to remove later on.
Now the mallow mixture is cool, you can flavour it any way you so choose by simply throwing it in a stirring it round. I recommend staying with drier ingredients if possible but, if you must use liquid, only use a small amount.
Rub a little oil on a metal spoon and then use it to help you pour the sticky mallow mix into the prepared tin. Smooth it over and then dust in a little more icing sugar\cornflour. Cover and leave to set for at least 4 hours at room temperature.
Once set, using an oil rubbed knife to cut the mallows into 1” cubes and dust in the remainder of the icing sugar mix. Store in an air tight container for as long as it takes you to eat them all.