Marsh + Mallow = Marshmallow

Made-from-scratch marshmallow is truly a creation to be celebrated. Tell people you make your own and they’ll stare at you in disbelief. How is it that a mere mortal can dare to make something so ethereal, so elemental at home? Next he’ll be telling he makes his own small-batch artisan air! Truly, for many, to presume to make one’s own marshmallow is to try the very patience of the gods. In point of fact marshmallow is no big whoop. If you have a stand mixer you can make it easily. Nothing more than a sugar syrup and egg white foam reinforced with gelatin.

That of course is the modern version. The original marshmallow reinforcer was the glue-like root sap of a plant called — what else — the marsh mallow, a kind of hollyhock common to Europe and Asia. The original is still made on the continent, where it’s known as pâté de guimauve. Powdered marsh mallow sap can be had here in the States if you’re truly dedicated/obsessed.

I personally like marshmallows just fine out of a bag (they’re the only kind that are tough enough to toast over an open fire on a stick), but there’s no question that homemade marshmallow is something quite special. Not only is homemade marshmallow lighter and gooier than the store-bought equivalent, you can flavor it any way you wish with a little extract of one sort or another…mint, orange, lemon, strawberry, coffee, you name it. You can even infuse the water in the recipe with herbs (like lavender) if you feel like going high-brow. Oh yes, amazing stuff, marshmallow.

6 thoughts on “Marsh + Mallow = Marshmallow”

  1. The LA Times published a recipe back in the 80s. It was simplicity itself and made with water just hot enough to dissolve the gelatin. As a result it was safe to make with kids. And if you had a glass bowl they could see the magic of a clear liquid and granular sugar turning into viscous lustrous white marshmallow in minutes.

    Because there was no attention to the sugar crystal that formed they weren’t stable and had a shelf life of about 24 hours. No matter at my house. I never saw them hang around longer than that until I attempted to make them one Christmas when the kids were grown. That’s when I discovered how important the correct crystal is. =o

    Not sure they could be piped either. But they were always a hit at my kids’ school and then later when I had my own classroom. Not too shabby a kitchen science lesson either.

    1. I’ll search for that. Marshmallow would be great for the after-school class I’ve been teaching. Thanks, Rainey!

      – Joe

      1. I tried to include the link but I couldn’t find it in their archives. They have more recent marshmallow recipes but they’re not the same thing.

        I’ve kept the recipe (and used it many times in 3 decades). If you’d like it I can post it. It really is very kid friendly and was originally written as something they could cut into Easter shapes with seasonal cookie cutters.

  2. My son learnt to make marshmallow Easter eggs when he was at intermediate school (that’s 11 and 12 years old). They used a large tray full of ordinary flour, with indentations made by an ordinary egg, as the mould. The flour dusts right off after the marshmallow has set and can still be used for baking or whatever so is not wasted. I used this technique for years to make dairy-free Easter eggs for various children of my acquaintance who had dairy allergies. You can either dip the egg halves in chocolate and stick them together, or, as the top surface (that wasn’t in contact with the flour) of the egg halves is tacky, you can just put two egg halves together and they stick. As I remember, at school they did this, then dipped the whole eggs in jam then rolled them in dessicated coconut.

  3. Ok, try this: take one large & perfect summer strawberry and cut it in half. Stuff the little cavity inside with homemade marshmallow. Stick the halves back together.

    Or fill one half with homemade marshmallow and the other half with creamy peanut butter, then stick them back together.

    The creamy gooeyness of the homemade marshmallow makes this work way better than the rubbery storebought kind.

    Hooray for summer strawberries!!

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