I have had a particular fondness for the alchemic art and scientific approach to sweet-making (and similar concoctions) for some years now. I’m fascinated by the turning of sugar to caramel, the drama of adding bicarbonate of soda to produce fizzling honeycomb, the delicate temperature differences that set chocolate, and the simple homeliness of making curds and jams.

Today, I wanted to share the mysteriously meticulous boiling points that combine mixtures to create gooey marshmallows. It’s not an easy thing to start with, and I’ve known as many attempts to go wrong as to be satisfactory in our house, but I think that I’ve come across a good recipe and am getting steadier results now.

So much so, that I decided to venture out and add some exciting flavours to my marshmallows for the first time. I heated up Nutella and swirled it in just after pouring the thickening mixture into the baking trays, before sprinkling flaked almonds over and rolling them in their messy icing-sugar/cornflour coating.

Marshmallow-making is a bit like making Italian meringue – that is to say you have stiff egg whites, to which very hot sugar-water is added gradually while whisking for about 10 minutes until they start to thicken. The difference is that before you add the liquid sugar to the meringue, you pour it into dissolved gelatine, which gives you the squidgy set marshmallow form.

Once you have the hang of it, whisking up a batch of marshmallows is quite hard to see as a difficult thing to do. The part which possibly leaves me a little unsatisfied is getting the level of gelatine just right… you don’t want something that reforms into an amalgomous biomorphic blob after cutting, but you don’t want an overly rubbery mouthful to contend with either.

I don’t tend to get through marshmallows on their own… but I’m looking forward to using them in hot chocolate, stirring them into rocky road and of course charred & melted over the fire – the best way to eat marshmallows.

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.

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