Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Leftover Egg Whites and Vanilla Marshmallows

I get through a lot of eggs. I've used maybe 18 or so in the last week on various baking projects. I almost always end up with egg whites leftover though. I guess because I tend towards richer, creamier things, like creme patisserie, custards or mousses.

Before I started baking so frequently, I would have made pavlova with them. Actually, I would have more likely have put them in the fridge meaning to make meringue, forgotten about them for a week, and then thrown them away as I worried they had gone bad.

While the main staples for baking are cheap, it's the good stuff like ground nuts and chocolate that make it expensive. Given that I can easily spend £20 on ingredients if left unchecked, I am really trying to not waste things in an effort to make money go further. This includes those pesky egg whites.

Vanilla Marshmallows

Although I like meringue, its not something you can eat that much of. My go to recipe for egg whites lately has been financiers, but this weekend it was wearing thin. Part of my reasoning behind the Red Velvet cake was that the icing used egg whites, but that still left me with 2 egg whites festering in the fridge. Googling "2 egg whites" lead me to marshmallows, and this particular recipe by Hugh FW. I also fancied the foodbeam recipe, but that used more than 2 egg whites and I didn't like the idea of messing with quantities on something as precarious as confectionery.

Instead, I mixed the two recipes together. I replaced Hugh's beet juice for colour with Fanny's vanilla seeds for flavour.

The only tricky moment was boiling the sugar syrup. I was using my parent's old sugar thermometer that I stole borrowed from my dad's house. It is only in Fahrenheit, so I had not a clue how hot the sugar actually was, just that it had to get to 250F before I could pour in the gelatine and vanilla mix. It was boiling pretty vigorously, got to 220F, and stopped. I actually thought the thermometer was broken, as the temperature seemed to hover at 220F for about 5 minutes. Turning the heat up didn't seem to do much either, and I was worried that the sugar would burn, explode or do something else equally unpleasant.

Eventually it got moving again and I mixed the gelatine and syrup before adding to the beaten egg whites in small dribbles. The resulting mixture had a similar texture and look to meringue mix, but was runny instead of stiff. I wasn't sure how long to whip it for, and I think I could have given it a bit longer to make the marshmallows even lighter.

After a rather anxious two hours wondering if it had set, and trying seriously hard to resist the urge to poke it every 5 minutes, I turned out the square of marshmallow. It was sticky, but firm, and came away from the tin surprisingly easily. I then set about cutting the block into bite sized cubes. I used a palette knife, although I think a sharper knife might have made the job a bit easier and my cuts a bit neater. Once dusted with sugar and cornflour, I packed them into Tupperware, but not before trying a couple myself.

Unlike shop bought marshmallows, these didn't seem overwhelmingly chemical. The vanilla flavour was perhaps a tad too subtle, but it was there nonetheless. They had the slight crust from the icing sugar coating, but were billowy inside. My flatmate E declared that it was "probably the best marshmallow I've ever had", but he is not a renowned marshmallow connoisseur so this is not quite as sweeping as first seems.

More Fluffiness

Given that I'd never even heard of homemade marshmallows until 6 months or so ago, I was surprised at how easy they were to make. I would suggest that this would be a good kids recipe, as the results are impressive for very little work, but the large amounts of boiling sugar are perhaps not so suitable!

I'm even looking forward to my next batch of leftover egg white...


Katy said...

They look great. I don't think I'm brave enough to try and make marshmallows. Not yet anyway.

Jenny said...

They were surprisingly easy, the only specialist equipment is a sugar thermometer. Definitely keep them in mind for later!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

They look wonderful! I made these without a sugar thermometer once and it was hard but worked but yes I'd definitely go the way you did with the sugar thermometer. Wow 18 eggs in a week-that's amazing! I agree, chocolate and nuts can easily add up-I have had to curb my macaron obsession because of that.

Holler said...

They look gorgeous! I have a recipe for vegan marshmallows, but I haven't been brave enough to try making them yet, so I am in awe of you results.