Recipe for Marshmallow
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Suzanne Brown
Posted on: July 2, 2001

I am frantically searching for a recipe to make marshmallows using actual root of marshmallow and not gelatin. Any advice where to look?

According to Mrs. Grieve, author of the now classic "A Modern Herbal", commercial marshmallow candies are not made with the marshmallow plant. Here is what she wrote in 1933:

"Preparations of Marsh Mallow, on account of their soothing qualities, are still much used by country people for inflammation, outwardly and inwardly, and are used for lozenge-making. French druggists and English sweetmeat-makers prepare a confectionary paste (Pate de Guimauve) from the roots of Marsh Mallow, which is emollient and soothing to a sore chest, and valuable in coughs and hoarseness. The ‘Marsh Mallows’ usually sold by confectioners here are a mixture of flour, gum, egg-albumin, etc., and contain no mallow."

Deni Bown, in her book, "Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses" (available from Richters), writes:

"Powdered roots were once used to make soft lozenges (pate de guimauve) for throat infections and coughs – forerunners of the popular candy "marshmallow," which no longer contains extracts of the herb."

We did not find a recipe for the original soft confection. It might be possible to adapt a recipe for regular marshmallow by substituting some or all of the gelatine called for with an extract made with the marshmallow root. For example, a recipe for marshmallow candy, the modern version is (from the World Cuisine website):

2 tablespoons of gelatine

1/4 cup of water

2 cups of sugar

1 cup of water

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

3/4 cup of mixed cornflour and icing sugar (1/4 cup of cornflour, 1/2 cup of icing sugar)

Soak the gelatine in of a cup of cold water in a small bowl and set aside to swell for 10 minutes. In a large saucepan pour the sugar and second measure of water. Gently dissolve the sugar over a low heat stirring constantly. Add the swollen gelatine and dissolve. Raise the temperature and bring to the boil. Boil steadily but not vigorously for 15 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until luke warm. Add the vanilla essence and whisk the mixture with an electric mixer or beater until very thick and white. Rinse a 20 cm (8 inch) sponge roll tin or fudge dish under water and pour the marshmallow mixture into the wet tin. Refrigerate until set. Cut into squares and roll in mixed cornflour and icing sugar.

The trick probably is to capture the mucilage of the roots substitute it for part of the gelatine. You may need to experiment using an extract or tea made as described by Mrs. Grieve in her book. Her book is online and you can access at the Richters website at http://www.richters.com (go to Richters InfoCentre then Classic Herbal Online and then A Modern Herbal, then search for "mallows".

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