Adventures come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes you can have as much of an adventure in the kitchen as you can on the hills or in the water. This is definitely the case for me – I am a pretty poor cook, really, and so trying anything new when it comes to baking is a real adventure (I never know what I’m going to get). Even when I have a tried and tested recipe it doesn’t always go to plan – I admit I chucked out a batch of flapjack at the weekend (what a waste!). I do okay when it comes to main meals; I assume you’ve all tried my awesome fish pie recipe, or that gammon and turkey pie recipe that is still one of my most popular blog posts to date? But baking really isn’t my forte.
Marshmallow is perhaps one of my all-time favourite sweet treats. I love the stuff. Making it has been on my bucket list since I first wrote it, and it finally got its “tick” at the end of last year when I followed a recipe sent to me by a friend (thanks Rachel) over the Christmas break. I know from hours of watching Master Chef and the Great British Bakeoff that while marshmallow is a staple for pastry chefs, it is not necessarily easy to get right – and reading the recipe I knew I was going to have to concentrate!
Home made marshmallow – attempt one.
This is the recipe I used over on the Dr Oetker website.
It seemed to take hours. Whisking the egg whites, sorting out the gelatine, creating the sugar syrup – everything seemed to demand my whole attention at the same time and needed to be done simultaneously. This does not make a happy Splodz; my kitchen was a mess, there were utensils and bowls of ingredients everywhere, and I was a bit stressed out! Ridiculous, I know. LincsGeek came to my rescue (phew) and helped pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites while I mixed (only a standard electric whisk, no fancy Kitchen Aid anything here). A few hours later and my marshmallow was ready to cut up and taste. Ok. Not quite as I imagined; the texture wasn’t quite as anticipated – not a failure by any means, but not a total success either.
Home made marshmallow – attempt two.
Attempt number two went much better and resulted in nicer marshmallow for sure. The texture was loads better – I whisked the egg white for longer and as I’d already tried I had an idea what the three different sets of ingredients would be like when I combined them. I didn’t change any quantities, I’m not a good enough pastry chef to muck about with the recipe, but the practice I had before meant I had more of an idea of what I was doing. Also, tasting a friend’s home made marshmallow meant I knew I actually wasn’t far off and so I had more confidence.
Could it be third time lucky? Oh yes! Much more relaxed, much more confident, and much fluffier marshmallow – practice makes perfect (well, nearly!). It tastes good, has the best texture I’ve managed so far, and with slightly less vanilla it has a more subtle flavour too. I decided to do one process at a time, this time, which worked much better for me. If I had a fancy stand mixer I could make the sugar syrup and melt the gelatine during the 15 minutes or so the egg whites take to become stiff, but that’s not the case so I just have to do things one at a time. Oh and if I had a stand mixer it would be SO much easier to pour the sugar syrup into the egg white in a nice gentle and steady stream while still whisking. But I wouldn’t use it enough to warrant the expense so I’ll stick with the one I’ve got and manage.
Home made marshmallow – attempt three. It might look a bit shabby but who cares about looks?!
I am not sure I will ever really master making marshmallow. I find the combination of processes complicated and with my ungraceful clumsy nature just a bit too messy. I’m not giving up, I like it too much to do that; I will try again and with each attempt I know I will get there. The original goal last year was to master the technique enough to be happy to share my marshmallow with friends as presents, so watch this space! The plan is to add some raspberries or jam or lemon curd or something else equally as yummy into the mixture before I leave it to set – gourmet marshmallow Splodz Blogz style!
Have you made your own marshmallow? What hints and tips can you offer me? What is your fail safe recipe? What other sweet treats would you recommend this clumsy baker give a try?
Inspired by the BEDM topic for today – food glorious food.
PS: If you hate using your fingers to separate egg whites from yolks you need Pluck – one of my favourite little kitchen gadgets. I reviewed it here.