Marshmallow Marshmallows

23 Feb

Okay, so this recipe is not a fermentation.  I feel that it’s a worthy addition to this blog’s subject matter though, since I’ve touched so frequently on herbalism.  I’ve been curious about the discrepancy between marshmallow the herb and marshmallow candy for some time. Same name, very different thing! A little research will tell you that the original marshmallow candy was, in fact, made with the mucilaginous sap of the marshmallow plant, and the candy was first developed as a kind of ancient variation on the cough drop, since marshmallow herb is soothing to sore throats. The Egyptians combined marshmallow sap with honey, nuts, and grains.

Marshmallow image from riversidegarden.wordpress.com

The French turned marshmallows into a confection in the 1800s, whipping it into egg whites, much like a merengue. Eventually, marshmallow root was replaced by gelatin because of practical concerns, aka, money. Marshmallow root is much more expensive these days than gelatin. The other thing you will find with modern marshmallows is that they are all made with corn syrup: an ingredient I’d rather avoid.  I searched a while to find a marshmallow I’d rather eat, and I came across a recipe at herbmentor.com that combines marshmallow with rose water and honey. This recipe doesn’t use the marshmallow as a binder anymore: gelatin is added to the mix as well. Not having any rose water on hand, I replaced changed the recipe a little and added some rose hips, which I find always go nicely with hibiscus that was already added to these marshmallows. My results were fluffy and a little fruity. Quite good, and very unique!

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Marshmallow-Marshmallows with Hibiscus and Rose

Combine 1 c water with 1 T marshmallow root powder, 1 T dried hibiscus, and 1 T rose hips in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and let them cool in the fridge. When cool, strain the mixture and add more water so the liquid equals one cup.

Take 1/2 cup of your tea concoction and mix with 1 packet of gelatin in a medium bowl. Mix until well dissolved.

Put the other half in a small saucepan. Combine with 1 c honey, 1 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until your mixture reaches 230-240 degrees Fahrenheit. This is called the soft-ball temperature in candy-making terms. Use a cooking thermometer to keep track. I found that the temp is hard to keep low enough on my gas range– the mixture kept fizzing over, so you may have to babysit the process quite a bit.  A flame spreader might also come in handy to diffuse the heat.  This is the tedious part.

When your mixture is hot enough, slowly combine it with the gelatin mixture, mixing on low, using a whisk attachment on your mixer or hand-blender.  Once they are combined, mix on high for several minutes, until the whole mix is frothy. The color will be brown-pink-creamy.

Line an 8×8 pan with oiled parchment paper. Pour your mixture into the pan, and let it set at room temperature. You could also set them in the fridge. I’ve been storing mine in the refrigerator. If the mix didn’t totally emulsify, like mine, then you might end up with a thin glaze of honey on the bottom of your marshmallows.

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A few days later: Marshmallows half eaten!

 

Benefits of Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis):

Marshmallow root is primarily wonderful as a demulcent, meaning that it creates a soothing film over mucus membranes.  This makes it useful for conditions like bronchitis, ulcers, or inflammations of the mouth.  It can be used on the skin for conditions like boils or abscesses as well.  Both the root and the leaf can be used.

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