Marshmallows

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I have 36 egg whites in my freezer.  We just love crème brulee here and with crème brulee comes excess egg whites.  So what to do with the bloody egg whites?  The idea of marshmallows has been flitting around my brain for a while.  The problem was, once I started looking for marshmallow recipes, I found most don’t have any egg whites in them.  Fancy that!  Who would have thought?

Marshmallows were, originally, sweets made of sap from the roots of the marsh mallow.  The sap was simply mixed with a sweetener.  Then, in the mid 19th century, a French confectioner added beaten egg whites to make the first incarnation of what we today consider to be marshmallows.

Before long, gelatine replaced the mallow sap, as it was much cheaper.  And before much longer, the egg whites were omitted because it was found the gelatine could act as both the aerator that creates the foam and the binder that makes handling and cutting possible.

(Source: Chocolates and Confections Peter P Greweling)

But Greweling did mention:

It is natural to assume that marshmallows are made by whipping a meringue with a generous amount of sugar, then adding gelatin to it.  Indeed, marshmallows have been – and can be – made by this technique.

Not to be deterred, I looked in a vintage book a friend, Deb, found in an Op Shop: The Home Confectioner, by Lois Stocks.  It had both the eggless and the egg white versions.  In the circumstances, I decided to go with the egg white version.

All this because I had (and still have) egg whites galore in my freezer!  The funny thing is, I don’t even like marshmallows.  Even as a child, I didn’t like them and I think this is one reason I have never made a pavlova – it is all soft and marshmallowy inside.  But I somehow got it in my head it would be good to make some.  Tania, from The Cook’s Pyjamas, and Celia, from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, have recently posted marshmallow recipes which reinforced this thought.  I guess I thought home made marshmallows would be different, certainly better, than the bought ones.

Maus, on the other hand, loves marshmallows.  Once I made these and decided, bought or homemade, they are not for me, I looked at the mountain and was a little concerned for its welfare.  I asked Maus, as she popped one in her mouth, whether I should freeze half as they, reportedly, don’t keep very well.  She looked at me as if I was mad.  Another one disappeared and then another.  “There won’t be any problem with them going off,” she assured me.  True to her word, the mountain is very quickly disappearing.  I guess you are a marshmallow person or you are not.

As with all confectionery recipes, you will need a candy thermometer for this one.

This recipe comes from that great Op Shop find, The Home Confectioner, by Lois Stocks.  BTW, I looked up Lois Stocks because I had never heard of her.  Apart from the fact that she was born in 1937 and has written another book (making cakes using Australian dried fruit), I could find absolutely nothing about her.

Ingredients:

  • 500g sugar
  • 2 tbs* liquid glucose**
  • 400mls water
  • 2 tbs* gelatine
  • 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • juice of one lemon
  • cornflour and icing sugar (equal quantity of each)

*These are 20 mil tablespoons.

**In Australia, Queen brand is readily available in supermarkets.  Elsewhere, use corn syrup.

Method:

  1. Line a tray with baking paper (or grease it well) then dust it with the cornflour/icing sugar mixture.  The tray I used was 23cm x 33cm x 5cm and it was perfect.
  2. Heat the sugar, glucose and 200 mils of water in a large saucepan.
  3. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Boil the syrup (without stirring) until it reaches 126°C.
  5. In the meantime, dissolve the gelatine in 200mls of warm water.
  6. When the syrup reaches 126°C, add the dissolved gelatine to it.
  7. Start your mixer and slowly pour the syrup/gelatine mixture in a stream into the stiffly beaten egg whites.
  8. Add the lemon juice and continue to beat the mixture until it becomes thick and white (10-12 minutes).  I beat the mixture for 10 minutes.  I have a pretty powerful mixer (Kenwood Major).  If you have a smaller mixer, you may may need to mix it for the 12 minutes.
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared tray.  Flatten it as much as possible.
  10. Leave it overnight to set, then gently ease the marshmallow out of the tin.
  11. Dust the marshmallow in more cornflour/icing sugar mixture then cut into generous sized pieces with scissors.  Coat each piece in the cornflour/icing sugar mixture.
  12. Store in an air tight container, generously sprinkled with more cornflour/icing sugar mixture.
  13. If you think your marshmallow will be around for more than a few days, store half in the freezer.

25 thoughts on “Marshmallows

  1. Hi Glenda. Your story reminds me that I have a kilogram of dried egg whites that I bought once for a project where I was attempting to make some experimental material that needed to resemble very hard dog biscuits. Every time I see it I think that I should do something useful with it, but I am not much of a marshmallow fan either.

    Regarding Lois Stocks, I wonder if it is the same person who wrote ‘Shaped by Wind and Sea; The Stories of Kilbride and St Joseph’s Schools’, in which case she lives in Melbourne.

    • Hi Morrie, good luck trying to find a use for all that dried egg white. I am always scratching my head trying to think of uses for egg white. Lois Stocks is a pretty unusual name so it must be the same person. BTW I sent you an email.

      • Hi Glenda and Morrie, it is indeed the same Lois Stocks – my mother, who lives in Melbourne and is still a keen cook! Bronwyn Stocks

        • Hi Bronwyn – Thanks so much for letting us know. If you don’t mind, could you please tell her I made her recipe. Maus said they were great 🙂

  2. I’m with you on the store bought marshmallows but then I saw Celia’s post and thought – those look very different from what comes in the bags around here and I’ve been meaning to give some flavored ones a try. Thing is, I like marshmallows on top of hot chocolate & a bite or 2 of them but since we’re getting close to Thanksgiving here I should tell you about this obsession that some people have with putting marshmallows on top of sweet potato casseroles. Sweet potatoes are pretty traditional at Thanksgiving but as you say, this is a case of either being a marshmallow person on not. For me having melted marshmallows on top of a nice sweet potato casserole just isn’t very exciting.

  3. I love your approach to life, that you will give something a go, I think that’s brilliant! And as I was reading about your egg whites in the freezer I was thinking pavlova….. so that explains that then!

    • Hi Claire, I do like a crunchy meringue and there is always almond bread and macaroons but I don’t think pavlova is the go. It would be a bit much for Maus to get through.

  4. Have you gals been reading my mind? I was dreaming about making marshmallows last night, having bought some rocky road by Whisk and Pin… it was $$$$ and Peter assured me that he knew I could do better… Glenda, I love your research and writing style… just love it! And I love the same from Tania and Celia… what a team you are…. rest assured that marshmallows will be on my list of things to cook as soon as I have some free time… and I will have all three posts at hand! Love your work!

    • Hi Liz, it is amazing how easy they are to make. I would be interested in making them without the egg whites to see whether there is any discernible difference in taste.

      • Yes, they are, aren’t they! I have not made them for years… last time was when my children were small… must do it again soon. Wish we lived closer, I would love to spend time over a coffee with you!

        • Liz, that sounds great. I am actually having a coffee now. If you are ever in Perth you would be most welcome to come and stay a few nights in Bridgetown. Our Perth house is too small for guests but Bridgetown is waaaaay big enough.

  5. I like marshmallow but hate that texture within in a pav so when I think egg white I think meringues, one of the joys of my childhood 🙂 And my aunt always made a wonderful pav that was crisp on the outside as it should be and somehow just a sticky caramelized hollow on the inside that gave a gratifying crunch with just enough chewiness with fresh cream and fruit.

    • Ella, that sounds like my type of pavlova. If truth be told, it was probably over cooked and ended up more like a huge meringue. Yummy, I would like that type of pav.

  6. Oh I am on Maureen’s team I just adore Marshmallow, any recipe kind will do. Life is too short, just enjoy what you love.
    Love Deb. xx

  7. Is it difficult to get the mixture off the beaters? My memory of making (without egg white) marshmallows is that the stuff clung like crazy – maybe with egg whites it’ll be easier.

  8. You know Glenda I absolutely hate store bought marshmallows but adore home made ones. I ate so many during my testing I had to ship batches off to the neighbours kids to save myself from myself. I am even dreaming up a new Christmas flavour at the moment 😉 But I think it is the same with all types of confectionary, either you love it or hate it.

    Maybe try amaretti with the rest of your egg whites. You can dip those in alcohol. Always a winner in my book 🙂

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