I appear to have travelled through time. I blinked and somehow it’s advent. Time travel is clearly the only logical answer – although the time machine would have to be invisible and is probably parked in one of the few unused parking spaces outside. Oh and all users would have to have their memories magically wiped. But, regardless of all that, it’s the only explanation for why I made gingerbread marshmallows this weekend when I swear it was January a few days ago.
And while we’re at it, I seem to have jumped through time to a few weeks before my 31st birthday. Didn’t I just have my 7th birthday disco? Or my 8th down at the local Pizza Hut? Of all the destinations in time to choose, I can’t say why I picked this one – maybe I’m about to do something profound? Campaign for charity? Finally learn conversational French maybe? Or could it be because of these rather delicious gingerbread marshmallows which melt beautifully on yuletide hot chocolate? Hark the herald angels and all, marshmallows, and I suppose Christmas, are here.
After my last blog post where I rolled up my sleeves and somehow made pain au chocolat, five of which are still nestled in the freezer, I thought to myself, “Ally, do you really want to keep making the most challenging recipes possible?” (see apple and custard cinnamon rolls while you’re at it).
To which I replied with a firm, “No.” And yes, I clearly talk to myself.
But much like when your friend gossips about someone sitting behind you and says, “Don’t look now!” we all have a habit of doing the exact opposite of our instructions.
And thus, marshmallows – please come and take your bow. You wouldn’t be here if I actually listened to myself once in a while.
How to make marshmallows
Now, after all that build up, I can imagine homemade marshmallows must seem fairly daunting. Would you believe me if I said that they’re actually not that difficult? Not yet? Ok, let me explain.
Marshmallows are the product of beautiful alchemy. (Not sure if alchemy makes it sound any easier, does it?) But ok seriously, would you have guessed that gelatin and sugar syrup could be whipped together and out of this blessed union emerges bouncy, sweet and chewy marshmallows?
As you slowly pour the warm sugar syrup into the set gelatin, the mixture thickens like snowy meringue and soon becomes moussey and most recognisably mallowy. It’s smooth and glossy, so beautiful I wanted to use it as a face mask. Resisting that particular temptation is ideal, although dipping a finger in is encouraged.
Into this marshmallow base you can fold all your flavourings and egg whites to make them a little lighter, a little fluffier. From there, it just needs to be poured into a baking dish and left to set before slicing into squares and throwing them around in a snowstorm of icing sugar and cornflour.
Really, there is nothing more to it than that. Keep that in mind when everything happens at once though. And you will later find marshmallow splattered on your walls. But the finished results – a chef’s kiss of a Christmas treat to sip with milky hot chocolate.
Gingerbread in a marshmallow
When it comes to Christmas, we have much for which we must thank the Germans. Christmas markets for one are all the rage these days, and while the Christmas tree was famously popularised in Britain by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s German husband, did you know that advent calendars also originated in Germany? Most importantly, this is the country that invented the Christmas lebkuchen and the gingerbread house.
A touch of gingerbread spice – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove – is all that’s needed for our homes to fill with the scent of Christmas. And while we could all make gingerbread hot chocolate, I have never tasted such delicately balanced spicing and sweetness, perfectly complementing the frothy chocolate, than I have in these marshmallows. Plus, with this recipe you have the prospect of around 25 gingerbread hot chocolates – one for each day of advent if you want.
Steeped in warm milk these gingerbread marshmallows melt into a layer of creamy mousse which you sip up in greedy mouthfuls, then because there’s so much chocolate left in your mug, you possibly add another marshmallow.
So really, time traveling to make homemade gingerbread marshmallows is perfectly understandable. Now, where will my time machine take me next?
- 260 g white sugar
- 50 ml liquid glucose
- 75 ml cold water
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 egg whites optional
- Butter or solid oil like coconut oil for greasing
For the gelatin
- 75 ml cold water
- 15 g powdered gelatin
For the dusting
- 80 g icing sugar
- 20 g cornflour
- A sprinkle of ground cinnamon
For the gingerbread flavouring
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 3 tsp golden syrup
- 1 tsp liquid glucose
- 10 ml water
- Before you start make sure you have all your equipment: 2 clean saucepans with a lid, 2 large mixing bowls, electric beaters, a spatula, and butter for greasing your utensils!Grease a 20 x 20 cm baking dish with butter or line with baking parchment.
The gingerbread flavouring
- In a small saucepan, combine all the flavouring ingredients and set over medium heat. Stir to combine and cook until the spices are fragrant, the syrup has melted and everything is homogenous. Pour into a bowl or ramekin and set aside.
- Place the sugar, liquid glucose and water in a saucepan, set over medium heat and stir to wet the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring as it comes to the boil. Too much stirring or splashing can result in crystallised sugar.
- Cover the saucepan with a lid and leave the sugar syrup to cook for 2 minutes for the steam to dissolve any excess sugar crystals attached to the sides of the pan. If there are still some sugar crystals, return the lid to the pan for another minute, or brush the sugar crystals away with a wet pastry brush. Just one crystal can crystallise all of the syrup!
- While the syrup is cooking, combine the gelatin powder and cold water in a large mixing bowl, stir to combine and set aside for 10 minutes for the gelatin to bloom (set).
- Optional – if you'd like to add egg whites to your marshmallows to make them light and fluffier, whisk them to stiff peaks now and set aside. If you have a stand mixer, you can whisk them at the same time you whisk the gelatine in step 6 (unfortunately I don't so there is some juggling!)
- Set a bowl of cold water next to your pan of sugar syrup. Dip your spatula into the hot syrup then drip the syrup into the water. If the blob of syrup is firm yet pliable, it's ready. Too soft: If it's still liquid or really soft, squidgy and can be completely flattened it needs longer. Too hard: If it forms little sugar marbles, it's gone too far (you can recover it by adding a little warm water to the syrup and reboiling).
- Remove the sugar syrup from the heat. Whisk the set gelatin with electric beaters and gradually pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl (this cools it and stops the gelatin from melting). Pour it in slowly and the mixture will gradually become thick, creamy and white. Once all the syrup has been added, keep whisking and it will continue to grow in volume and become glossy and smooth. Don't whisk if the mixture is cold as it will become much harder to handle!
- Grease a spatula with butter or coconut oil.
- Fold in the salt, vanilla, egg whites and gingerbread flavouring. (If the marshmallow mixture feels stiff and firm, quickly use the electric beaters until it's smooth.)
- Pour it all into the greased dish, sprinkle in a little icing sugar, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for at least 6 hours.
- In a bowl, combine the dusting ingredients of icing sugar, cornflour and the sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Slice the marshmallows into cubes and turn them out onto a plate or board covered in the marshmallow dusting.