Bitter orange marshmallows

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If you’re bored of making marmalade but still want to feel the terror of foaming pans and to fuss over whether your concoction will set, try making Seville orange marshmallows.

I suppose the more balanced among you are wondering why on earth someone would enjoy that sort of mildly stressful situation–why not do the usual sorts of thrill-seeking things that are actually cool, like go on a hiking holiday or take up competitive sports? Or both. Why not do both?

I don’t know. It’s just the way I’m made: I’m an expert in being relatively unexciting.

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But you’re going to get a new marshmallow recipe from this, so let it be known that these confections are bright with the unique, fragrant tang of fresh Seville oranges, the sort used to make marmalade. These marshmallows look innocent, like normal vanilla marshmallows gently flecked with peel, but they pack a punch. Their sour intensity is barely tempered by goodly amount of sugar and a bit of vanilla, turning it into a lovely uplifting fizz.

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The amount of Seville oranges I use in this recipe may seem quite mean, especially as it’s diluted by half, and seeing as I used only the juice for my blood orange marshmallow recipe. But Seville oranges are much stronger, with a bitter, ravaging sourness and complex aroma, so you really don’t need quite as much to achieve a very bright and distinct flavour.

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This is perfect for using up a couple of oranges whose outsides weren’t pretty enough to be shredded into your perfect marmalade, or maybe you’re curious about what these things actually taste like outside of a preserve. Also, if you usually find marshmallows or similar confections achingly sweet, or are generally in possession of a sour tooth, you might want to get to know these little chaps. Here’s your introduction. For what it’s worth, I think you’re going to get on very well.

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SEVILLE ORANGE MARSHMALLOWS
Makes around a 21 cm square slab which is just under 2 cm thick. I cut it into 55 pieces, 1 inch square(ish). They’re intensely flavoured so you don’t need many per serving.
Keep for 2 weeks in the fridge with a little breathing room.

It’s possible to make a very small batch of marshmallows using a hand mixer–I’ve always used a tiny cheap one–but obviously a stand mixer is ideal here.

You must beat the batter properly for light, springy sweets. It’s also very important to allow time for it to set and cure uncovered (or covered with breathing room) overnight. Failure to do so will result in marshmallows which weep slime for ever. They will furthermore resist attempts to rectify your mistake: they’ll weep through any more dusting power you apply and develop a chalky crust if you try to cure them again. Certainly not the end of the world, but still: have patience.

Be sure to use a slightly bigger pot than you think you’ll need for the sugar syrup: it boils up very high. The initial mixture should only take up 1/3 – 1/2 of the volume of the pan.

ingredients

For the marshmallow
2 – 3 medium Seville oranges (you’ll want the zest of 1 and the juice of most of them)
4 leaves platinum strength gelatin (or the equivalent amount of leaf/powder for setting 1 pint of liquid to moderate firmness; it’s important to check the label)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
75 ml – 100 ml cold water
250 g white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup, liquid glucose, or corn syrup

For the coating
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
Pinch of ground cinnamon and a decent sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg (optional; I like a hint of spice)

equipment
sugar thermometer
electric mixer

instructions

  1. Get a tin or tray of 20 cm – 23 cm (8 – 9 inch) square dimensions (any shape and measurement of comparable surface area is fine). Line with a piece of very lightly oiled baking paper or foil, wiping well with a paper towel to leave only the thinnest film. Have it ready near your working area.
  2. Finely grate the zest of 1 orange, putting the zest in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) along with the gelatin, vanilla extract and salt.
  3. Juice the oranges into a measuring jug until you get about 100 ml, a little more is fine. Top it up to 200 ml with some cold water. Pour half of this juice mixture over the gelatine and leave to soak and soften.
  4. Pour the other half of the juice mixture into a medium saucepan along with the granulated sugar and syrup. Gently dissolve everything over a medium-low heat. Once smooth, add the sugar thermometer and bring up to a fast boil. You want it to reach soft ball stage, 118 – 120 degrees C/235 F – 240 F. This will take about 10 minutes; first it’ll shoot up to 100 C and hover around there for a while before slowly crawling up. Use this time to make sure everything’s ready.
  5. Once the syrup’s at heat, pluck out the thermometer, swiftly and carefully pour the boiling hot mixture into the bowl of gelatine. Start beating with your electric mixer right away for a minimum of 12 full minutes, up to 15. The mixture will look very watery, but will become pale, thick, voluminous and shiny as you beat. When ready, the outside of the bowl should be cool to the touch and the marshmallow batter be opaque and bulky.
  6. Working quickly, scrape the marshmallow batter into the prepared pan. Don’t worry about getting every scrap out of your bowl or off your implements.
  7. Spread and leave to cure uncovered (or with a good deal of breathing room, like a ventilated dish cover or spatter guard) for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight to allow the flavour to develop. The marshmallows may seem ready sooner, but you need to be patient. Ideally you’ll let them sit at room temperature, but they also come to no harm in the fridge so long as you keep them away from strong smells.
  8. When the marshmallow’s set and you’re ready to coat them, combine the coating ingredients in a large bowl. Sift a little of the coating onto a chopping board and turn the marshmallow slab onto it. Cut into your desired size using a sharp chef’s knife or cutting wheel dusted with coating mixture, I scrape the flat of the blade against the board to pick up excess powder. Add the cut marshmallows to the bowl of coating mixture as you go along, pausing to toss pieces in batches before removing to another container. Repeat until all marshmallows are coated.
  9. It’s very important to eat at least 3 marshmallows as you coat them. Don’t disappoint me, please.

2 thoughts to “Bitter orange marshmallows”

  1. ms. pear, i enjoy your style of writing and sharing very much. these marshmallows are brilliant. i like the sour twist to them. they’re the only marshmallows i’ve ever considered actually making since i find the standard ones too powdery sweet and generally uninteresting. cheers!

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