Berry Blush. Toasted Coconut. Vanilla Bean. Maple Bacon. Pineapply Rosemary.
Just a handful of flavours gourmet marshmallow makers have dreamed up. “Mallow artists” are revisiting and heightening this long overlooked fluffy delicacy and waving “good-bye” to the spongy, store-bought variety so many of us savoured around the campfire as kids.
Those mass-produced chemically-induced blobs of goo on the grocery store shelves were put there in the 1940’s. Marshmallows date back to ancient Egypt, where marsh mallow root juice was used as a thickening agent for early cough drops. Centuries later French confectioners added egg whites and sugar to create meringues.
For most of us, marshmallows conjure up nostalgic images of families perched on metal lawn chairs around a campfire. I have some of those nostalgic memories too. Golden-brown on the outside with a hot, sticky melted centre, at the end of a stick we pulled from the bush. Mom made us wash our faces and hands, sticky with gooey guts and consequently caked in sand and pine needles too, before we were slid into our sleeping bags.
I also have memories of marshmallows bursting in flames before it turned black and fell into the flames. On one occasion, in a desperate attempt to save my treat, I waved my stick so hard that my flaming marshmallow became a flaming projectile. In slow motion, it flew to my right and hit my brother in my knee. I ran to get the medical kit while he screamed in agony, as the melted blob burned his skin.
I don’t think he’s ever forgiven me.
Marshmallows are a combination of corn syrup, sugar, water, salt and gelatin. When heated, mixed and whipped, it becomes a delightful treat! No baking required. Marshmallow makers say that they’re finicky at first, but easy once you’ve perfected the knack. I don’t know… I don’t exactly have a knack for baking, even the easy things……like rice krispie squares with the store-bought variety of marshmallows.
I think I’d better leave this project for the “mallow artists”.