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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Heat the sugar, glucose and 200 mils of water in a large saucepan.
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Boil the syrup (without stirring) until it reaches 126°C.
- In the meantime, dissolve the gelatine in 200mls of warm water.
- When the syrup reaches 126°C, add the dissolved gelatine to it.
- Start your mixer and slowly pour the syrup/gelatine mixture in a stream into the stiffly beaten egg whites.
- 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.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tray. Flatten it as much as possible.
- Leave it overnight to set, then gently ease the marshmallow out of the tin.
- 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.
- Store in an air tight container, generously sprinkled with more cornflour/icing sugar mixture.
- If you think your marshmallow will be around for more than a few days, store half in the freezer.