But when a craft day with a couple of awesome ladies came up on my calendar, I finally decided to do tackle these fluffy delights. With the help of the ever-faithful KitchenAid, called Nigella (shut up),and a good-quality sugar thermometer, these were a joy to make, and a joy to eat.
I used a recipe from the River Cottage Family Cookbook, which a friend had recommended, and even though I made a few adjustments, they came out great. Sweet enough without being sickly, with a nice hint of vanilla, and the texture is the sort of plush squishiness that makes me giggle while eating them!
Homemade vanilla marshmallows - makes 42
Ingredients:1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp rice flour
Vegetable oil for oiling tin and knife
25g gelatine powder
125ml hot water
1 tsp vanilla bean paste OR 2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 drops (optional) red food colouring
2 egg whites
500g caster sugar
20cm square cake tin
1. Sift the icing sugar and rice flour together in a bowl. Grease tin all over lightly with a few drops of oil and dust liberally with flour and sugar mixture on all sides. Set aside
2. Mix the 125ml of hot water with gelatine, red food colouring and vanilla with a wooden spoon until the gelatine has all dissolved. Set aside
3. Stand the food mixer on the bench near the stove (if possible). Put the egg whites into the bowl of the mixer
4. Put caster sugar and 250ml water into a medium sized pot. Stir with a wooden spoon over a low heat until sugar has completely dissolved, then stop!
5. Rinse the sugar thermometer in hot water, then stand it in the pan. Increase heat to high and allow to boil. Meanwhile, switch on the mixer and whisk the egg whites until they're completly stiff, then switch to low. Don't worry about them too much, the air will collapse, but can be beaten up again!
6. The sugar need to boil until it reaches 122C (called 'hard ball' stage), so watch it carefully. Once it reaches this temperature, remove from the heat immediately. Take out the sugar thermometer
7. Pour the dissolved gelatine into the pan of syrup and stir with a wooden spoon until all combined
8. Switch the food mixer back onto high, get the egg whites firm again, then switch to low. Pour the syrup into the eggwhites, avoiding the beaters themselves. The mixture will turn creamy. Once all the syrup is poured, increase the speed and keep beating the mixture until it reaches 'ribbon stage', about the texture of semi-whipped cream
9. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared tin. Cover with a plate or another dish, and allow to set in a cool place (not the fridge). Give it about 2 hours, until slightly tacky to the touch, but firm.
10. Dust a chopping board with the rest of the flour/sugar mixture. Coat butter knife in a little oil, and run it along the edges. Carefully ease the mashmallow out of the tin onto the board using your hands, and the butter knife. It should peel out in one wobbly piece.
Using a sharp knife, rubbed with a little oil, slice the marshmallow into 7 strips, then each strip into 6 3cm x 3cm pieces. Dust the marshmallows all over with icing sugar, then eat!