Whats a marshmallow?
Marshmallows, as we know them, have been around for thousands of years. Originally, they were made with root sap from the marsh mallow plant, hence the name. The root was boiled with sugar, and once thickened, it was strained, cooled and flavoured. We know the Egyptians were making honey flavoured marshmallows as early as 2000 BC, although this treat was reserved only for gods and royalty!
Not just any old treat, these might be good for you!
The Romans and the Greeks loved marsh mallow. They believed that, in liquid form, it could cure you of all sorts of ill including sore throats and coughs, aches and pains, and indigestion and diarrhoea. They even used it as a love potion!
As a treat
It is all thanks to the french that marshmallows are now eaten as a treat. They discovered that adding whipped egg whites created a more stable product that could be shaped and molded.
More recently, gelatin has replaced the marsh mallow root. In USA they add corn syrup to their recipe. Their marshmallows are great for melting between graham crackers and chocolate, but don’t taste great by themselves. Europeans prefer to add egg whites instead of corn syrup. These marshmallows are more like a meringue, and they taste delicious just as they are.
Perfect, make ahead, addition to your afternoon tea
Why make your own
It is time consuming and messy, but the finished product is just wonderful. Home made marshmallows are light and fluffy, without being too sweet. Plus, you have complete control over the flavours and colours that you add. Your imagination can run riot. I like simple, fruity flavours, but you could make them any way you like. Apple and cinnamon, banana and custard, or maybe something a little less orthodox like maple bacon!
The Basic Idea
Making marshmallows is pretty simple in principle. Just whisk some egg whites, prepare some gelatin and make a sugar syrup. Add the gelatin to the syrup and add that to the egg whites, leave to set, and voila. Of course, there is a little more to it that that, but essentially that is it. If you fancy having a go, you’ll need a sugar thermometer and a stand mixer, but they are well worth having a go at. These are affiliate links, but they are the actual products I use and love.
My basic recipe is here, make it your own by adding your own flavours.