Rose, Raspberry, and Lychee Marshmallows & Long Way Home Short Story Contest


Listen: do not even speak of hand-made marshmallows in the same breath as the factory-made ones. I speak as someone who, as a child, consumed rows and piles of Flump – charming, but no comparison. Hand-made marshmallows are the most delicately fragrant, sugary dream.


I won’t lie to you, these are effort. Marshmallows involve manifold procedures which trouble you with boiling-hot sugar syrup and entangling stickiness, doubly so for these ones because you need to do each layer separately. But with one layer being rose and raspberry, the other lychee, and the whole thing home made marshmallow, I’m sure you will have made up your mind already about whether you want to go through the fol-de-rol.


For comparison’s sake, if you make marshmallow with egg white then it’s very much like making Italian meringue; there’s wiggle room but you do need a degree of patience and precision. I used leaf gelatine (pork-based) but please do read about gelatine strengths and types, and perhaps have a look at this recipe for vegan marshmallows for a breakdown of how marshmallows work. I made this with a hand-mixer, which was a bit of a trial but otherwise alright. I’d advise you to use a semi-decent mixer which won’t overheat after 5 – 10 minutes straight of beating; my £12.99 one from Sainsbury’s was alright. You really must beat the mixture as well as you can or it’ll be flat and dense. I mean, you can try by hand, but it might be agonizing…


I made these with a view to share them; they’re not the sort of thing to carelessly cram into your mouth. Yesterday afternoon I cooked a Thai family-style meal of duck nam tok, corn fritters with home-made sweet chilli sauce, coconut chicken soup, plus a selection of fresh vegetables. My parents brought along a steamed crab and freshly cooked white rice. For dessert, I made lychee granita and set a bowl of cherries in the middle of the table. We ate very well yet still had room for coffee–and some more little sweet things, so I got the marshmallows out of their tin at the last minute along with some coconut chocolate macaroons. It was a lovely thing, to chat and slowly sip coffee while having a few soft, perfumed  marshmallows.

After everyone went home, I had trouble winding down from the stress and adjusting myself to the sudden free time. I got a little bit of sleep, about 4 hours, and sleepily checked my phone upon waking up, quite sure that this new email would probably be ASOS telling me about all the cute new clothes I can’t afford to buy. Instead, it was an email from the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) telling me that I had been shortlisted for the Long Way Home Asia-Europe Short Story Competition:

Within a month, a total of 483 entries were received from Asia and Europe and then evaluated by a professional panel of judges appointed by UWRF. Your story, along with nine others, are now featured online and two lucky winners will be chosen by members of the public.

I had forgotten the first selection date and was actually willfully putting it out of sight and out of thoughtgarbagebin so I could look forward to further writing projects without being hung up on rejection. This shortlisting was such a surprise that, in my typically overdramatic fashion, I started ugly-crying while clutching my phone. The story I had written and submitted was the first ever one I had completed from end to end since NaNo 2010, and the only story since that single piece of GCSE English coursework that I’ve seriously worked on and felt confident in its convictions. It’s the first time in ages that I’ve received any validation for my fiction writing and I am content.


If you look at the short story competition page, be sure to vote for the story you like best–I am honoured to be keeping very fine company over there. I’d be lying if I didn’t have a thumbnail-sized soupçon of hope that you will like my story, but it’s more important to me that people are honest about what they enjoy. To just have written that little story was reward enough. I know little phrases like that are usually part of a display of false modesty put on by those of a vainglorious disposition, but honestly, for me this first step was very meaningful. I’ve been self-indulgently rewarding myself with sweet little marshmallows all day. This is more than enough.

Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes with further guidance from Dave Lebovitz

You must leave time for these to set, at least 1 – 2 hours, preferably overnight.

While it’s certainly possible to cook sugar syrup without a thermometer (I’ve done it) it is a hassle to keep having to test it in cold water. It’s up to you. I do recommend one though, it makes jam and confections so much easier.

You absolutely must keep your working area as clear and well-prepared as possible or you and your kitchen will become so very sticky (pain in the arse to clean up, Fear of Ants, Fear of Wasps) and, in the worst case scenario, painfully burnt and possibly without marshmallows to show for it. I know it’s a bore for some of us–it is my nature to be messy–but it’s temporary and worth it.

Makes a 24 x 32 cm tin full of marshmallow mixture. If you cut them into roughly 2.5 cm – 3.75 cm/1 – 1.5 inch cubes, you’ll get about 40 – 50. I’d recommend you cut them small as they are quite sweet and perfumed.
Keeps for 1 week in an airtight container.

To Prepare:
Lightly flavoured vegetable oil
75g icing sugar, sifted if lumpy
75g cornflour

For the Raspberry-Rose Layer:
Raspberry-Rose Puree:
125g fresh or frozen raspberries, pureed/mashed and strained
1/2 teaspoon rose water or syrup (or to taste; it depends on the concentration you have)

250g white granulated sugar
2 tsp liquid glucose
4 sheets platinum strength leaf gelatine, or enough to moderately set 570ml/1 pint liquid (I use Dr. Oetker)
1 large egg white
Pinch of salt

For the Lychee Layer:
Lychee Puree:
1 x ~500g can of lychees in syrup, pureed to make enough to make 160ml liquid. Top up with  canning syrup if required.

250g white granulated sugar
2 tsp liquid glucose
4 sheets platinum strength leaf gelatine, or enough to moderately set 570ml/1 pint liquid (I use Dr. Oetker)
1 large egg white
Pinch of salt

Final touches:
More icing sugar and cornflour, if needed.
Decorations, if liked. I used freeze-dried raspberries, you can also use food-grade petals or light sprinkles.
You will also need:
24 x 32cm tray with sides at least 2.5 cm high, or equivalent
Large heat-proof bowl
Sugar thermometer (recommended!)
Hand mixer or stand mixer
Flexible spatula. If you don’t have a maryse, get one!


1) Sift together the icing sugar and cornflour into a medium bowl. Grease and line the base and sides of a 24 x 32cm tray with baking paper. Lightly grease the surface of the lining paper itself and then dust with with the icing sugar mixture, tilting and tapping to completely cover the base and sides in a light layer. Reserve the remaining icing and conflour mixture.

2) Make the raspberry-rose layer first: place strained raspberry puree in a measuring jug/cup. Add 1/2 teaspoon rose water or rose syrup, mix and taste: it should be fragrant to your liking. Top up with plain water or more rose water to make 160ml (1/2 US cup) of liquid.

3) Place the raspberry-rose mixture, 250g caster sugar, and 2 tsp glucose in a medium saucepan that can hold at least 3 times the volume of this mixture (it will foam greatly). Place sugar thermometer into the pan. Heat on low, stirring, until sugar is completely dissolved; scrape the bottom well. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to high and boil the mixture as hard as you can. Keep an eye on the temperature while you prepare everything else; after about 10 minutes it’ll climb to the required 118ºC (soft ball stage), but you still need to be careful.

4) Meanwhile, place the gelatine leaves in a small bowl, just cover them with cold water and set aside to soften. Check on them now and then to make sure they’re totally soft and flexible. Keep this bowl near the area where you’ll be mixing the marshmallows.

5) Put your one egg white in a large mixing bowl. Once the temperature of the sugar mixture is reaching 99ºC, start beating the egg white on a high speed until it reaches stiff peaks.

6) When the syrup reaches 118ºC, slowly drip the hot syrup into the egg whites a little at a time, pouring directly into the egg whites and avoiding the moving beaters to prevent splattering. If using a hand mixer, wait a little bit between additions to make sure everything is well incorporated.

7) Once the hot syrup’s all in, quickly squeeze the softened gelatine leaves dry and throw them all at once to the very warm egg white-syrup mixture. Add a pinch of salt.

8) Beat this marshmallow mixture very well until is glossy and thick, about 5 minutes on a stand mixer and closer to 10 with a hand mixer. The outside of the bowl should be just warm or cool to the touch and the mixture, the beaters should be straining with the effort of whisking such an extraodinarily thick, glossy and voluminous (around 3 times the original size) mixture. It should be able to hold its shape in ribbons and peaks but also just pourable.

9) Immediately pour the marshmallow mixture into your prepared tin and use a wet spatula to spread it right to the corners and quickly smooth the top. Take your time  to try to keep it as smooth as possible so you have even layers. Leave it while you get on with the next layer.

10) Repeat steps 2 – 9 for the top lychee layer. Your marshmallow won’t suffer if you take a quick breather at this point. Smooth the finished lychee marshmallow right on top of the raspberry-rose layer, covering it completely. Sprinkle the top with freeze-dried raspberries or rose petals, as you like. Leave completely undisturbed to set at room temperature for at least 1 – 3 hours, preferably uncovered (or at least something breathable like a mesh dish cover, if there is a Fear of Insects or Dust). The tray can go in the fridge (uncovered, again) if your kitchen is quite hot.

11) To finish: get out the bowl of icing sugar and cornflour mixture again. Dip the blade of a sharp little knife into this mixture to dust, then cut the set marshmallows into 2 cm strips and then into 2 cm x 2 cm cubes (or however you wish to cut them), re-coating the knife every few cuts. Toss the sticky marshmallows in the bowl of icing sugar and cornflour, coating all 6 sides, shake off excess dust and store in an airtight tin. If yours seem very sticky then let them sit and dry on a rack for a few hours before storing.

4 thoughts to “Rose, Raspberry, and Lychee Marshmallows & Long Way Home Short Story Contest”

  1. Wish you could air freight me a sample – they dound DIVINE! and, good luck with the competition – although you shouldn’t need luck!

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