Vanilla is my favourite spice. Forget thinking of it as timid and beige–forget it, alright? It’s beautiful, dark, full, and rich, and should be respected. Marshmallows bear this perfume wonderfully. These ones have a fluffy egg white base, which means they melt slowly and perfectly into a mug of hot chocolate.
There are a bunch of ways to make marshmallows. When I made a batch for my friend’s birthday, I used golden syrup, which provided a warm, rich, rounded sugariness; when I made them a second time, I used a mild honey, which was a little quieter, asking you to remember its particular sweetness.
Whether or not you add egg white is another thing. In many respect, egg-based and no-egg marshmallows are equally delicious–the egg-free batch I made for my friend’s birthday were decent. I experimented further, comparing the two.
These are our findings: egg-free are good to eat out of hand and dissolve quickly and completely in hot drinks, lending a hint of vanilla. When held over a naked flame, the surface almost instantly bubbles and melts, forming a thin caramel shell over warm goo within seconds of pulling away. Maybe you want that, I don’t know–I certainly found these experiments perfectly pleasant to conduct–but if isn’t what you desire in a marshmallow, I present these.
The addition of just one egg white made all the difference, bringing a more resilient fluffiness. These marshmallows take their time to melt voluptuously into hot chocolate, sweet foam at the edge and warm middles. They’re still a bit fragile when toasted, but are much closer to what you expect–smokey-sweet goo with a bit of pull. These will do quite nicely.
Oh, and you can try these marshmallows with salted caramel hot chocolate. Just a suggestion.
SMALL BATCH VANILLA BEAN MARSHMALLOWS
Adapted from Epicurious’ bourbon vanilla marshmallows and Tara’s swoony vanilla marshmallow recipe on Seven Spoons. It’s about 1/3 of the latter recipe.
Makes 8 – 10 big marshmallows or 16 – 20 bite-size ones, depending on how you cut them. These keep for at least 2 weeks at room temperature.
If you don’t want to use vanilla bean, add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to the beaten egg foam along with the hot syrup. For what it’s worth, you could quadruple all other ingredients in the recipe while keeping the vanilla the same and still have perfectly good vanilla marshmallows.
for the vanilla coating:
1 whole vanilla pod (you’ll use 1/3 for the coating and the rest in the batter)
1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cornflour
2 1/2 leaves gelatine OR 2 1/2 tsp powdered gelatine
40ml cold water
Remaining vanilla seeds + pod
125g granulated sugar
Scant 1/4 tsp cooking salt
2 tablespoons of golden syrup OR your favourite runny honey (you can also use light corn syrup or liquid glucose)
40 ml water
1 egg white (if using leftover whites, anything between 2 – 3 tbsp/30 ml – 40 ml works)
You’ll also need a neutral oil to coat the pan and the knife.
For the vanilla coating: Cut 1/3 of the vanilla bean, splitting and scraping the seeds of this portion into a small bowl. Add the icing sugar and cornflour, rubbing everything with fingers until fragrant. Lightly grease and line a 8 x 4 inch loaf pan (or equivalent) with baking paper. Grease the paper itself and sift over a layer of vanilla coating mixture. Cover and keep the remaining coating for later.
For the bloom + stove set up: Snip gelatine sheets into little strips and put into a small bowl by the stove. Pour over the water and allow to soak while you get on with everything else (if using powdered gelatine, sprinkle powder onto the water in the bowl). Place the egg white in a medium heatproof bowl by the stove. Have the hand mixer ready.
For the syrup + beaten egg foam: Split and scrape the remaining vanilla bean, adding the seeds and the pod into a small pot with the rest of the syrup ingredients. Clip in a sugar thermometer. Gently stir over a low heat until sugar has mostly dissolved, then bring up to a rapid boil until mixture reaches 118 degrees C (soft ball stage), about 5 minutes more.
Start beating the egg white on a low speed with the hand mixer once the sugar syrup’s at about 100 degrees C (212 F). Once white is foamy, increase speed until stiff peaks form. Ideally it’ll be ready at or just before the point the syrup’s ready, but you won’t greatly hurt the marshmallow if the timing’s slightly off.
Beating the marshmallow batter: Carefully pluck out the vanilla pod and thermometer from the hot syrup. Add soaked gelatine and its water into the syrup, stir briefly, then gradually trickle contents of the pot into the egg white bowl, continuously beating on medium-low. You should get a soft, voluminous foam. Once it’s all in, increase speed to high and beat for 10 minutes until marshmallow batter is opaque, glossy, and thick enough to hold its shape.
Quickly scrape mixture into prepared tin, spreading just enough to make an even layer–you can make them as thick or as thin as you want as it can support itself. (Once you’re all done, it’s a good idea to soak or wash up with plenty of hot water immediately.)
Marshmallow curing: Leave marshmallow to cure uncovered–or with plenty of breathing room, like a spatterguard or mesh food cover–at least 4 hours or up to overnight. This is an important stage: your marshmallows will weep slime if improperly cured, which cannot be fixed with extra coating or curing.
Cutting & coating: Slice the marshmallows however you please with a long sharp knife, cleaning and oiling between each and every cut (you’ll see). Toss each piece with the vanilla coating. I don’t have to tell you what to do next, do I?