Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hot Chocolate with Real Marshmallow Root Marshmallows

Hot chocolate with true marshmallow root  Spode 3886- English 1830's

If you humor me for a moment, gentle readers, your patience will be rewarded with a Hot Cognac Chocolate rocket to Nirvana, promise. You see, I have long had a mad notion to make marshmallows with marshmallow root, a process abandoned in the 19th century because it was too much of a pain (there are sometimes reasons things are no longer done… duh!) Call me crazy, but I really wanted to know what they tasted like and nobody knew! I finally found a recipe on E-how. Not knowing the chemistry of marshmallow root sap or how much heat it could take… or what the heck gum tragacanth would do… I did just what my little E-How recipe told me to do. Silly me. Honestly, I Googled for pages and pages and couldn’t find another example.

Back in the 21st century, Ezra Pound Cake gave a perfect recipe with step-by-step photos for modern homemade marshmallows that made it look so easy and gave me pause, since my recipe seemed to have some bits missing…still I pressed on. I mean these saps have a long history, who knows what alchemy they can produce?

None, zero, zip on the alchemy front. I got fluff for my efforts, marshmallow fluff. Gum tragecanth, like gelatin, did not behave when you dropped it into the mallow water… it became… lumps. Whip it how I might, my marshmallow had small, tapioca-like blobs in it. I am sure that was a big factor in it remaining fluff and not solidifying properly. It is very tasty and will be great on my hot-cognac-chocolate-of-the-gods but marshmallows it ain’t. Back to Google I went.

Marshmallows these days are made from a whipped mixture of corn syrup or sugar, gelatine, gum arabic and flavorings. In my old version marshmallows are made with the mucilaginous sap (think okra) from the roots of the Marsh Mallow plant (Althea officinalis), a plant which typically grows in salt marshes and on banks of large bodies of water.

According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen "the first marshmallow-like confection, called pâte de Guimauve, was made in France" from the juice of the marsh mallow.” Owners of small candy stores put the whipped sap from the mallow root into a candy mold. This time-consuming process was typically done by hand. Indeed, candy stores had a very hard time keeping up with the demand. Now, marshmallows are made by piping the fluffy mixture through long tubes and cutting its tubular shape into equal pieces.
Thank you Mr. McGee!!! Knowing about pâte de Guimauve was the key to the kingdom. From there I found old recipes. All of them had Gum Arabic instead of my very pricey gum tragacanth. One old recipe talked about river water and rennet apples… no use to me although Eleanor Parkinson’s 1844 Complete Confectioner did talk about adding the gum and mallow mixture to sugar “which has been previously clarified and boiled to the feather” and drying of the mixture till it thickens, none of them talked about soaking the gum before adding it or whipping air into the mixture as Ezra Pound Cake encouraged.

FYI you can get marshmallow root from Frontier or Starwest Botanicals and Gum Tragacanth from Kerekes.

After my first fluff-asco… I tried to correct what I felt had gone wrong the first time… and I got marshmallows…very soft marshmallows but marshmallows. Was it worth it???? There is a faint flavor you can’t quite put your finger on that’s a little musky/woodsy. The rosewater comes through brilliantly and the tiny bit of caramelization gives it a warm glow that corn syrup can’t really do properly. There is a delicacy to the confection that is missing in the new version entirely. If you can’t go to all that trouble… use EPC’s fabulous recipe and add rosewater for the chocolate… it’s that Rosewater Marshmallow that takes the Hot Chocolate from the extraordinary to the sublime.

Marshmallows with Marshmallow Root
¼ c dried marshmallow root
1/ ¾ c sugar (*I used whole foods organic cane which is light brown to begin with)
1 ¼ T gum tragacanth (or gum Arabic, although I read it is ½ as potent so use at your own risk…the original recipe didn’t offer different measurement for Arabic)
2 c water
2 egg whites, whipped
2 t rosewater or orange flower water to taste

Simmer the root in 1 ½ c water for about 20 minutes. Soak the gum in ½ cup water. Stir the gum vigorously and plop it in the blender then cover it and wait till the cooking root has made a slightly mucilaginous tea. Strain out the root liquid into the blender and blend the root liquid and the gum paste very thoroughly. Put this into a saucepan over a very low heat and stir. It will be rubbery and will soften a little. Add the sugar and whisk for a few minutes… I quit when the thermometer read 215. It may be able to take more heat but it was already going brownish *. I then whipped it for 2 minutes to get some air into it that lightened it considerably from light caramel to café au lait and finally added the egg whites, beating it a bit more to blend. I poured it out… well out may not be the right term…it gives you a fight and is unbelievable sticky. I tried to put it in a powder-sugared pan but piped it out instead on a powder-sugared plate ... they take a while to dry and are crunchy on the outside and melting on the inside when they are finished. Refrigerate... they are sticky until they dry.
*** in retrospect, I would whip the egg whites till a meringue is formed and add the hot liquid as you would making Italian meringue... I think the product would be be better!!!

Hot Chocolate with Cognac for One (Lucky Soul)
2 T sugar
½ C cream (warmed)
1 oz. chocolate
1 T cocoa powder
2 T Milk (or more if you want this less thick)
1 T strong espresso
2 T Cognac

Melt sugar to caramel. Slowly, add the warm cream and stir till blended. Add the chopped chocolate and stir till melted. Add the cocoa, blend, then the espresso, milk and cognac. This is a luxuriantly thick and rich hot chocolate for grown-ups. Pour it into a cup and top with the Home-made Marshmallow with Rosewater and enter chocolate Nirvana
For anyone who is as mad as I am… I enclose the recipe from Sanderson should you want to 

try a fully original recipe.

This section is from page 54 of  The Complete Confectioner, Pastry-cook and Baker,  by Eleanor Parkinson, 1844
Pastes Formed With Gum - Pate De Guimauve - Marsh-Mallow Paste
Gum Arabic three pounds, roots of fresh marsh-mallows eight ounces, one dozen of rennet apples, loaf sugar three pounds. Peel, core, and cut the apples in pieces. Cleanse the roots, and slice them lengthways in an oblique direction; add this to seven pints of water; soft or river water is the best when filtered; put it on the fire and boil for a quarter of an hour, or until reduced to six pints; pound and sift the gum through a hair sieve; strain the decoction into a pan with the gum; put it on a moderate fire, or into a bain-marie, stirring it until the gum is perfectly dissolved; then strain it through a coarse towel or tamis cloth, the ends being twisted by two persons; add it to the sugar, which has been previously clarified and boiled to the feather; dry it well over the fire, keeping it constantly stirred from the bottom. When it has acquired a thick consistence, take the whites of eighteen eggs, and whip them to a strong froth; add them to the paste, and dry until it does not stick to the hand when it is applied to it; add a little essence of neroli, or a large glassful of double orange-flower water, and evaporate again to the same consistence. Pour it on a marble slab well dusted with starch-powder, flatten it with the hand; the next day cut it into strips, powder each strip, and put them in boxes. Powder the bottom that they may not stick.


Faith said...

I'm all about chocolate Nirvana! I've actually wondered if marshmallows used to be made of marsh mallow plant! Thanks for the great info!

Deana Sidney said...

Faith, between your egg nog and my hot chocolate.. we have it covered.
The chocolate is really good and easy.... marshmallows really are made of marshmallow!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I hadn't heard of marshmallow root before so thanks for that and I admire your persistence! :D

Electra Maven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Electra Maven said...

Hmmmmmm Hot Chocolate with cognac yummy yummy
Great post ;) Just passing by to let you know that the Second post about Internet Marketing for bloggers is up! I remember you said you were interested so there you go!
Wish you the best ;)
Thanks for the in recipes - It looks delicious and sounds very yummy ;)

Kate at Serendipity said...

Thanks for the great read. I didn't know much of that about marshmallows. Here in Belgium, they're still called Guimauves, though. They make them and cover them with dark chocolate. I'm thinking that dropping one in a cup of cocoa might be just the thing!

Deana Sidney said...

Lorraine, Yes marshmallow root was the original x factor in marshmallows...which started out as a sore throat medicine since mallow is good for you.
Electra Maven.. it is great hot chocolate and I look forward to reading about how to blog better!
Kate: Guimauves still with us? I think they are made with corn syrup there too.. but it would be interesting to find out... you could melt a plain one and stir in some rosewater for your cocoa! I didn't know much about mallow either until it was in a movie I did years ago...took me long enough to make it!

Pam said...

Dear woman. This is amazing. I admire your fortitude. You just keep at until you get it! Bravo! This sounds hot cocoa, but hate modern marshmallows. Yours sound worth the effort. Lovely post!Pam

Deana Sidney said...

Pam, going to hold you to that NY area bloggers meet. Thanks for the compliment about fortitude, but honestly, it's stubbornness pure and simple! I was glad I did it!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Marshmallow A few months, I discovered you could make marshmallows at home and now this....thanks!

Becky said...

I love the idea of adding rosewater ... so delicious!

Deana Sidney said...

Kitchen Butterfly, i wouldn't say they make the prettiest confections but, if you are better at candy than I am... you could make marshmallow kisses! I wasn't feeling the squares with this!

Rosewater is great in buttercream on chocolate cake too... love it!

Karine said...

Your hot chocolate seems perfect for a cold day! Thanks for sharing :)

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Dear dear, hot chocolate with cognac? Heaven. And marshmallows flavoured with rosewater must taste divine! Such resolve you have!

cookies and cups said...

That hot chocolate looks so yummy and there is nothing better than a homemade marshmallow!!

Deana Sidney said...

Amen, Karine, Ju and Cookies and is disgustingly rich chocolate and with so much cognac .... R rated!

Unknown said...

Thank you for coming on my blog
I don't know marshmallow roots, but your hot chocolate seems so wonderfull, with cognac, with the snow outside, it will be wonderfull

Deana Sidney said...

Chapot, Your photos were so gorgeous!!! I hope to visit often... we can have a virtual hot chocolate together!

COLARGOL said...

Chocolate and marshmallows, i love it, perfect for today with cold

Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen said...

This is fascinating! I've been wanting to make true marshmallows for ages, and really didn't even know where to get started. What a fun - and sticky - project.

Deana Sidney said...

Jenny< after visiting your site, I really see why you would be up for making the marshmallows! You make your own cheese, Bravo!
The ingredients are simple to get, the technique... well I have to say after a few days, they are great... but it was a struggle!

Anonymous said...

YES! Went right off marshmallows when found out what modern ones are made of... thanks for the recipes and info on where to find marshmallow root!

Am said...

Thank you so much! I was so curious how to make the historical confection!! I can't wait :)

Herbal said...

I always wondered why marshmallow herb has the same name. Now i know. Thanks!