Marshmallow: The Mystery Confection

by Wanda C

Marshmallows are on my 'I-have-no-idea-what-its-made-of-because-I've-only-bought-it-pre-made-in-the-supermarket' list. It is a mystery confection. Here's what we all know about the store bought variety: 

  1. You NEED to have a bag for roasting when on a camping trip, keeping warm in front of a fireplace

  2. Everybody says they love marshmallows but secretly think they taste like plastic.

  3. They come in two flavours; pink and white.

And that’s pretty much it...

Did you know marshmallow is a plant that grows near rivers and salt marshes? The marshmallow root has been used as a thickening agent in confectionary, amongst other things, since ancient Egyptian times. It was most famously used in Pâte de Guimauve, a traditional French recipe that is close to what we now know as the modern day marshmallow. The dessert staple that is gelatin has replaced marshmallow as a thickening agent in the modern day variant.

With my new found obsession for cooking, I decided to make my own. Surely it will taste better than its supermarket counterpart!

I learnt how to roast marshmallows on TV and in story books. Growing up in Singapore I never saw the roasting of anything around an open flame because campfires (and fireplaces) were near to non existent. By all accounts, marshmallows were synonymous with a good family or childhood memory.

The closest I ever got was roasting a jumbo sized, perfectly formed, cylindrical pieces of confectionery on a wooden chopstick over a gas flame. That was hardly ideal. Where was the giant, smoky bonfire? Where were the family members sitting around said fire singing camp songs?. As a kid, I loved the idea of them and the experiences that were associated with them. I really wanted to like them, but they just didn't make me feel the same way marshmallows made people feel in the movies.

Where was the giant, smoky bonfire? Where were the family members sitting around said fire singing camp songs?

Cue 25 year old me. I wanted to give the humble marshmallow another chance. With my new found obsession for cooking, I decided to make my own. Surely it will taste better than its supermarket counterpart! The Gods of Good Eating are kind because marshmallows are incredibly easy to make, 10-fold tastier than store bought, and 100% customizable. You can add any flavour to it or re-introduce marshmallow and rosewater for a more historically correct pâte de guimauve.

The Gods of Good Eating are kind because marshmallows are incredibly easy to make, 10-fold tastier than store bought, and 100% customizable. 

They are decidedly better than any marshmallow I have eaten, and I now have a magic marshmallow memory! The best thing about making your own marshmallows? You can make them into the perfect roasting volume; a crisp brown caramelised shell with a soft, warm and gooey centre.

You can view the full recipe here:
Cocoa and Cardamom Marshmallows

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About the Author

Wanda C

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