Today I made my first attempt at marshmallow. In fact, I made teacakes.
Flicking through my recipe books to find inspiration for a friend's birthday treat, I came across these in Peyton and Byrne's British Baking. I've had this a while but never made anything from it, partly because a lot of the recipes are ones for which I already have good recipes, partly because my friend had a disappointing lunch at Oliver Peyton's St James' Park restaurant (mine was lovely) and partly because I don't find the excuse to bake new recipes as often as I'd like.
Anyhow, it's rather a lovely book with lots of traditional baking recipes in it from jammy dodgers to banana butterscotch pudding (find it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/British-Baking-Oliver-Peyton/dp/0224086618) and the teacakes caught my eye mainly because I fancied trying something new. In fact, I'm not even much of a fan of the shop-bought version, finding them rather cloying and thick. I prefer the Danish flødeboller, which have a thin wafer base, light, uncooked filling and a very thin layer of chocolate (Try them from http://www.scandikitchen.co.uk/products/Flodeboller-x12-320g.html).
But a light biscuit, soft marshmallow (not the set one with gelatine) and melted chocolate cannot fail to tempt, and I particularly like how egg yolks and whites are both needed - that's a tidy recipe.
Can I just state here that making marshmallow is brilliant. Egg whites, sugar, syrup and vanilla essence are heated over a pan of water and whisked constantly to become frothy and light. Then an electric mixer turns it into a meringue-like substance that pipes happily onto the biscuits. It's baking alchemy of the kind I love most.
Here's the making of the marshmallow:
I failed to get a decent picture of the piles of marshmallow piped onto the biscuits but they looked ace. With smaller bases and some coconut, they would be perfect as they are.
So far so good but I was nervous about the chocolate. I'm always apprehensive about working with chocolate and usually opt for a ganache but in this case I was following the recipe exactly. I melted half the chocolate in the usual way then added the other half, finely chopped, and let it sit for 7 minutes. I couldn't see it working but it did. I suppose the temperature of freshly melted chocolate would be too much for the marshmallow so this was a good solution for the right texture without the heat. It still seemed a little cold as the chocolate covered unevenly, and didn't reach the base. It's very possibly my technique but I can't see too many ways of spooning chocolate over a biscuit.
The resultant teacakes are, erm... rustic. I would like the chocolate to have been thinner and neater but they have a satisfying home made quality nevertheless. And most importantly, they taste amazing. The marshmallow is soft and melts in your mouth, the base is light and buttery and the chocolate set but not crunchy. They are not sticky or heavy at all but light and moreish. I may well try to make them again, but better. Or I may find every other marshmallow recipe I can lay my hands on and try them instead. Either way, marshmallow is the most fun I've had in the kitchen in a while and I suggest you try it immediately.