Friday, September 6, 2013

The miracle of the marshmallow

The thing I love most about baking is its alchemy - watching basic ingredients transform themselves into something completely different. Something greater than the sum of its parts.

Take meringue. Just egg whites, beaten to within an inch of their life, and with caster sugar added little by little, and they magically transform into a delicate, magical meringue.
Then add a hot sugar syrup and you've got a whole new level of alchemy - the marshmallow.

Fast Ed of Better Homes and Gardens made marshmallows last week and I carefully followed his recipe, even down to the peanut butter and jam flavouring. Since Eddie mentioned that time is of the essence in this recipe, I carefully measured out all of the ingredients and got them ranged on the kitchen bench in convenient locations based on the order the recipe called for them, Yes, I truly reached a whole new level of baking nerdiness.

Soft and light

But once I was organised, the whole recipe took about 30 minutes to go from egg whites and honey (yes, honey - the great thing about the Fast Ed marshmallow recipe is that it uses basic ingredients rather than call for glucose or agave syrup or what-have-you) to thick and fluffy meringue.

Before I folded through the peanut butter and jam, I put some unflavoured marshmallow in a separate lined tin and left both overnight to set. Next day, I used a hot knife to cut squares of marshmallow and roll them in a mixture of icing sugar and potato starch (Ed uses cornflour, but I had potato starch in the cupboard) and it was time for the big taste test.

The marshmallows really did turn out miraculously light and fluffy and, while the peanut butter and jam ones were tasty and fun, my favourites were the unflavoured ones - the honey taste shone through and the  ethereal texture was the star of the show.

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