Marshmallows are a soft and sweet confectionery that takes the toasted spotlight in s’mores. Pronounced ‘marsh-meh-low’, these are typically crafted from sugar, gelatin, and water. Whether enjoyed as a pillowy sweet treat on its own or a gooey indulgent addition to s’mores, brownies, rocky road, hot cocoa, and moon pies, it satisfies your sweet tooth with its chewy goodness.
The origins of the fluffy treat can be traced back to ancient Egyptians circa 2000 BC, where this delectable concoction, derived from the mallow plant (Athaea officinalis) abundant in marshes, held a prestigious status as a delicacy exclusively reserved for gods and royalty. The French played a pivotal role in metamorphosing marshmallows into the confection we recognize today. In the 19th century, French confectioners combined marshmallow sap with egg whites and sugar, manually whipping the blend to give rise to the initial form of marshmallows. As the treat garnered widespread acclaim, candy makers introduced the starch mogul system, optimizing production efficiency through corn starch molds. The French further perfected marshmallow creation by substituting the mallow root with gelatin, resulting in its more durable form. Concurrently, medical practitioners harnessed marshmallow properties, blending sap, egg whites, and sugar to fashion a robust meringue sold as a therapeutic candy for alleviating sore throats, suppressing coughs, and aiding in wound healing. In 1948, Alex Doumak of Campfire marshmallows catalyzed a manufacturing revolution with the extrusion method, conveying marshmallow ingredients through tubes, cutting them into uniform pieces, and subsequently packaging them. In the contemporary era, marshmallows are crafted from corn syrup, gelatin, and egg, molded into pillow shapes, and adorned with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Marshmallows in the culinary world
In the 19th century, marshmallows were crafted by combining mallow root sap, egg whites, and sugar into a fluffy mold. Modern manufacturing replaces mallow root sap with gelatin, blending it with corn syrup, starch, sugar, and water. The mixture is piped through tubes, cut into equal pieces, and shaped into recognizable forms. Marshmallows can also be made at home, incorporating ingredients such as salt and vanilla extract for added flavor.
There are various ways to savor marshmallows—roasted between graham crackers for s’mores, employed as toppings for ice cream or hot cocoa, incorporated into brownies or cookies for a delectably gooey texture, utilized as a filling for cookie sandwiches or moon pies, or employed as a binding agent in rice krispies treats. A classic Thanksgiving combination in the United States involves a sweet potato custard pie adorned with marshmallows. In this delightful recipe, the sumptuous custard filling is crafted from roasted sweet potatoes, eggs, and spices to capture the classic Thanksgiving flavor. The baked pie is then topped with circles of toasted marshmallows.
Marshmallow Nutritional benefits
Marshmallows fall into the category of processed foods, offering minimal health advantages. A serving of marshmallows, weighing approximately 28 grams, delivers around 90 calories, positioning them as a low-calorie and nearly fat-free alternative suitable for individuals mindful of their weight. Notably, marshmallows are generally gluten-free, rendering them a suitable option for those adhering to a gluten-free diet. While marshmallows may not boast substantial nutritional content, incorporating them in moderate quantities can be part of a well-rounded and balanced dietary approach. It’s important to recognize that, while marshmallows may not be a nutrient powerhouse, their consumption can be enjoyed in moderation within the context of a diversified and healthy diet.
In the Philippines
In the Philippines, these hold a significant presence in local treats and delicacies. One such popular delicacy is “ice scramble” or “iskrambol,” a beloved street food during the summer. This refreshing treat features shaved ice, ice scramble powder, chocolate sauce, powdered milk, sprinkles, and a delightful topping of marshmallows. Moreover, these fluffy little things take on a creative twist in Filipino birthday parties, where hotdogs on a stick are alternated with marshmallows to form a unique and flavorful combination. Additionally, marshmallows find their way into pastillas, creating “pastimallows” – a delectable treat featuring marshmallows covered with Pastillas de leche and rolled in sugar. These diverse applications highlight the versatility of marshmallows in Filipino culinary delights, adding sweetness and joy to various occasions.