Marshmallow has a long history! Most food historians place its origin in ancient Egypt, where the mucilaginous sap from the root of the marsh mallow plant was mixed with honey to create this confection. Marshmallow made in this period was reserved for royalty, for use as a salubrious dietary supplement or as a respiratory curative.
Today’s marshmallow is a far cry from this early concoction. Modern marshmallow is made using sugar, glucose syrup, gelatin, and flavoring. Marshmallow products are usually made using gelatin as the sole aerator, but some are made using both albumen and gelatin. As opposed to the extruded cylindrical mass-produced marshmallows, artisan marshmallows are made by being spread into a slab, allowed to set, and cut with either a wire cutter or a knife. Marshmallows formed in slabs can be either enrobed in chocolate or lightly dredged in starch and consumed without enrobing. The most common marshmallows are uncrystallized, but grained, or crystallized, marshmallows are also made. These latter confections contain less glucose syrup, and after they are aerated, they are seeded with confectioners’ sugar to induce crystallization. As with all sugar confectionery, grained marshmallows have a shorter texture than those that are ungrained.
The follow is a professional recipe from our Chocolates and Confections
cookbook. The measurements are given in grams, as they allow for greater ease of
use and a greater level of accuracy.
Yields 234 pieces
- 1.5 oz/40 g gelatin
- 8 oz/230 g water, cold, for hydration
- 24 oz/680 g sugar
- 12 oz/340 g glucose syrup
- 4 oz/110 g honey
- 4 oz/110 invert sugar
- 6 oz/170 g water
- 1 oz/20 g vanilla extract
- 1:1 confectioner’s sugar/cornstarch blend, as needed
- Stir the gelatin into the cold water to hydrate.
- Combine the sugar, glucose syrup, honey, invert sugar, and water in a saucepan and cook to 122°C/252°F.
- Pour the cooked sugar into a 12-qt planetary mixer bowl and allow to cool to 100°C/212°F.
- While the syrup cools, melt the hydrated gelatin over a water bath.
- Mix the melted gelatin into the cooled sugar. Whip on high speed for 8 minutes, or until well aerated. Add the vanilla extract
- Spread into a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper and well oiled.
- Place a piece of oiled parchment paper on top of the marshmallow. Flatten the top by hand until smooth. Alternatively, marshmallows may be slabbed to 1/2” thickness for dipping in chocolate. Allow to set overnight.
- Dust with a sifted mixture of equal parts confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch. Cut on a guitar, suing the 22.5-mm cutter. Dust the pieces with the starch mixture, and sift vigorously in tamis to remove the excess starch.
- Note: When the marshmallow mixture is properly whipped, the specific gravity should be below 0.40.
Chocolate Marshmallows: Mix 90 g sifted cocoa powder into the marshmallow after full whipped. Add one-third cocoa powder to the starch mixture for cutting.
Coffee Marshmallows: Add 50 g coffee extract at the end of whipping.
Passion Fruit Marshmallows: Add 70 g passion fruit puree (reduced by one half) after fully whipping.
Cinnamon Marshmallows: Add 10 g ground cinnamon to the sugar while cooking.
Anise Marshmallows: Add 10 g ground anise while cooking the sugar. Add 30 g Pernod after fully whipping.
Various Flavored Marshmallows: Various manufactured flavors may be added at the end of whipping, either with or without accompanying colors.