Our fav treat from ancient Egypt!
The weather last weekend was lovely; Little Miss Sophie stayed over and we thought it was just the perfect time to roast some giant marshmallows (photo can be seen on my Instagram).
The gooey sweet stuff hit the right point and Mr T wondered what marshmallows are made off – I was happy to add some food education to the evening.
Making marshmallows is surprisingly easy: you just need gelatine, water, sugar (a lot), cornflower and any flavouring you like. It is a sticky affair but well worth it (I made strawberry flavoured marshmallows and they were awesome if I may say so myself).
It seems that the origin of marshmallows can be traced back to ancient Egypt who created something similar for medicinal purposes and used the root of a plant called Althaea Officinalis – or simply mallow which grows in marshes (you see what they did here?).
The original treat was made by using the pulp from the plant and boiling it with honey until thick, adding nuts etc. As Instagram wasn’t a thing in ancient Egypt, no one knows how the original pieces looked and it wasn’t until the sweet arrived in France in the early 1800s that the mixture was changed and the pulp was mixed with sugar, water and egg whites before being pressed into moulds.
The whipping of the mix resulted in the fluffy pillows of goodness we know today. The root of the mallow plant was later replaced with powered gelatine and egg whites were dropped by adding glucose syrup and the recipe has been unchanged ever since.
The original way of making marshmallows was time consuming but today, manufacturing has made mass production a doodle and it seems we can’t get enough of these squishy delights.
Some snippet of information: according to some statistics, over half of any purchased marshmallows will be grilled.
When marshmallows arrived in the States, the famous (and utterly tasty) s’mores were invented – the first mentioning of a ‘recipe’ was made in 1927 in a girl scout handbook.
Neither myself nor Mr T had ever had the pleasure of a s’mores but Little Miss Sophie ensured that we get this experience first-hand.
You take Rich Tea biscuits, chocolate buttons and toasted warm marshmallows. Take a biscuit, place the marshmallow on top, sprinkle a few buttons on top and squish down with a second biscuit – now try eating it with grace (make sure to have napkins ready).
I wouldn’t use homemade marshmallows for roasting but you can buy them in supermarkets (sometimes they are marked ‘for roasting’) but the homemade ones are just as tasty if not more.
Isn’t it amazing that something used in ancient Egypt for medical purposes gives us now hours of pleasure in front of an open fire on summer evenings?