Before you jump screaming “of course!”, let me tell you something: I don't like them. Yep, that's right. I don't like marshmallows. I've always loved the way they look, like fluffy little pillows of sugar, but after the first bite, I remember that I don't like them and give them to someone else.
|Image by katerha|
Even though I don't eat them, I still got curious about the name and making of these popular sweets. Perhaps some of you know that the name marshmallow comes from the medicinal plant Althaea officinalis or marshmallow plant. The sap of this plant was used by ancient Egyptians as a remedy for sore throats, by mixing it with honey and nuts. It was in the 19th century that French candymakers turned the candy into a chewy confection, similar to what we find today in the stores. Sometime after that, the plant extract was no longer used and we kept the sugary stuff just for dessert.
|Image by gcfairch|
It was around 1950 that marshmallows began to be industrially made, using an extrusion process. During this process, raw solid ingredients are ground to an appropriate size and then mixed with liquid ingredients. This mix is cooked with steam and passed through an extruder to produce the familiar cylindrical shape. This soft cylinder is cut into sections and rolled in confectioner's sugar and corn starch, which is the most common presentation.
|Image by Joelk75|
If you're a fan of marshmallows and love to cook, why not try to make them yourself? There are many recipes on the Internet, including this one and this one. The appearance will be different, of course, but I'm sure you'll enjoy them and let your imagination run wild. If you make them, please share your experience with us in the comments!
P.S.: I'm sorry I've been MIA for so long, but after two successive and unrelated health issues, I'll get back on track ASAP. Thank you for your patience!