Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says in this recipe for marshmallows that they are fun to make with children – I must say, Hugh, after covering my kitchen with a fine mist of icing sugar and cornflour and covering the table in a sticky pink gloop as a thirty-something, I remain unconvinced you are the washer upper in your household.
The end result of my marvellous marshmallow-making, however, is entirely childlike – soft fluffy pink clouds that melt on your tongue are quite joyful and I confess that at the drop of one into a hot chocolate I felt mildly giddy. Of course it could equally have been diabetic shock.
Regardless of whether you are five or thirty-five these quivering sugary blocks are the perfect little sweet treat to indulge in over the festive season. Wrap them up in little pink boxes tied with satin ribbon and give as gifts, or invite the girls around and stuff your faces in front of the obligatory BBC rerun of Bridget Jones.
Prep time: 3-4 hours including setting time
25g powdered gelatine
2 egg whites
500g granulated sugar
A few drops of pink food colouring
A few drops of raspberry essence (or flavouring of your choice)
Lightly – VERY lightly that is – oil a 20cm cake tin (the silicon ones work perfectly) and sift a mixture of the icing sugar and cornflour so that it covers the base and sides.
Empty the powdered gelatine sachets into 125ml of water and continuously stir in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until dissolved. Remove from heat.
Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Meanwhile, put the sugar in a saucepan with 250ml water and stir continuously over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat right up so the syrup bubbles – allow is to do so until it reaches 122 degrees Celsius. It will takes its time reaching 115, but don’t leave it alone as the temperature rises really quickly thereafter.
Turn of the heat and pour the dissolved gelatine into the sugar syrup – as with anything adding a cooler liquid to a ferociously hot one will cause it to bubble up so be careful.
Switch the whisk back on low so the egg whites carry on whisking, then pour in the syrup at a slow gentle trickle. Once all the syrup is in and the mixture looks thick and silky add in a couple of drops of both the food colouring and flavouring before turning the whisk up to high and letting it continue to aerate and thicken for a further few minutes.
Once the mixture has become really thick, but still pourable, pour into the prepared tin and leave to set for a couple of hours in a cool spot. Don’t put it in the fridge as it will sweat and ruin.
Sift a little icing sugar and cornflour onto a clean, dry surface and with a lightly oiled and cornfloured knife, begin cutting the marshmallow into little squares.