Can you tell what it is yet?

I had a rather splendid plan. I was going to make marshmallows, and share their spongy magnificence with you, my devoted reader. I’d tracked down a recipe and translated it into Queen’s English from the original American (cornstarch = cornflour, confectioners sugar = icing sugar). I’d done my research, discovering that while the marshmallow was a mid-nineteenth century invention, the sweet really only came into its own with the introduction of Alex Doumak’s patented extrusion process in 1948, a technique which helped popularise the now-familiar cylindrical shape.

I’d even found some corn syrup. This stuff is nasty, death in a bottle. The FBI probably look out for it as they test packages for Riacin. The high-fructose variety, when tested on some willing rats, caused anemia, high cholesterol and hypertrophy. In other words, their little hearts inflated until they popped. It’s been cited as a major possible cause of obesity amongst Americans who, in 2001, consumed a whopping great 62.6 pounds of the stuff. Each. It’s nigh-impossible to obtain in this country.

Luckily, I’d tracked down a rare example of ‘light’ corn syrup reaching UK shores on the shelves of the excellent Rosslyn Delicatessen in London’s posh Hampstead district. Rather less fortunately, I was perturbed to discover that the second largest ingredient in this healthy alternative is, in fact, high-fructose corn syrup. It’s like buying lo-fat milk to find that it contains added fat.

I even had a dry run. I combined the ingredients in the manner prescribed by the recipe and dusted off my ancient Molineux Masterchef 470 food processor or, as they probably say at the French Culinary Institute, my centrifugeuse et presse agrumes. I whizzed and whirred and churned the mix for a good 15 minutes and, once the dust had settled, was left with a thin layer of white sponge the texture of carpet rubber. The taste was fine but the bounce factor, that international standard by which all marshmallows are measured, was sorely lacking. In short, it was marshmallow meltdown.

So I went back to the web in search of alternative recipes. And what did I find? That acclaimed food blog Cooking For Engineers had produced successful marshmallows less than one month ago. And because I don’t want to be seen as following in anyone else’s foodsteps (see what I did there?), and because I’m really jealous of the fact that the site’s author owns a Kitchenaid food mixer and I don’t, and because I can be a right contrary bastard when the mood strikes, I called a halt to my plans and made a quite wonderful organic pear pie from an ancient Piedmontese recipe instead. One day I might even share it with you.


  1. And there was me expecting to scroll down to find a giant marshmallow the size of a pillow.

  2. Jesus wept, Piedmontese pear pie now is it!?I hope you had a nice little glass of recioto della Valpolicella to wash it down with?

  3. RecklessPrincess

    what better to do on a mis Saturday afternoon…

    …off to buy gelatine and cornflour…

  4. Surely you could have toasted the mush.
    BTW Blogjam is much more entertaining than Cooking For Engineers.

  5. They’ll print anything these days.

  6. Some lazy hack at the Liverpool Daily Post has copied the Sky News story mentioned by Scaryduck above virtually word for word, I quote:

    “The findings have been blamed on the “endless media coverage” of women who become famous more for their physical attributes than talent or achievements.” Skynews (6/6/05)

    “The findings have been blamed on the “endless media coverage” of women who become famous more for their physical attributes than talent.” Liverpool Daily Post (6/6/05)

    Become a journalist in 2 easy steps: 1)Learn to cut 2)Learn to paste. Off you go!

  7. So, are you going to get your tits out, or what?

  8. dude… here in canada Eh!… we get a product called ‘marshie-mellow’ which is the pre made goop you made yerself…but thinner… it’s used in making rice krispie cakes… so ya don’t gotta melt the ‘mallow yerself… consists of corn syrup and colouring and preservatives, all injected into a vacuum sealed tube, that opens like ‘pilsbury’ products…. smash it on the counter to open etc…
    really goopy sweeeeeeeeeet gross stuff… (is excellent to stick a tube in the microwave for a few seconds, then hand to the drunkest person at the party and have them open it for you…. explodes delivering flying white drippy sticky stuff over an easy 15 foot area…)… “fire in the hole” takes on a whole new meaning…!
    one note on corn syrup…. it’s as evil as you say it is… studies now link it to being a major cause of learning dis-orders and attention defacit in children… but the phramaceuticals love it as ‘ritalin’ sales have risen equally with the per capita figure of corn syrup consumtion…. mmmmm yummy …
    where was I?… oh yeah…
    have a m8 here that drizzles that golden liquid all over his pancakes (nothin like the shrove tuesday version by the way… thick, spongy, door stoper things that accompany most orders of bacon (nothing like UK pork) and eggs here… bloody gross things…)… anyhow… when he eats that syrup straight, within seconds I can see a glaze come over his eyes…and within minutes he’s a blathering idiot…sugared to the max… as this is generally the brekfast hour, he then spends the rest of the day on a sugar hunt, going from 2 litre bottles of coke (fizzy), to desserts (afters), to a never ending stream of candy bars (sweets)…all to maintain that racing sugar high… by the time he hit’s the pub and swills it down with beer (lager)… the interaction of alcohol/sugar/digestive process results in the worst hangovers I’ve ever ever seen… so I asked the poor bugger one morning as he hung over the porcalain telephone, chanting religous obscenities… “what’s with the sugar high?” etc…
    the answer was telling… he was on ritalin as a kid and misses the buzz and seems to find that same high in cornsyrup…. didn’t seem to help the bugger concentrate one bit tho’…
    oh yes… back to the point … ha!
    should any brit wanna try either full bore corn syrup or the mashmallow goop for blog experiments, I’d be more than willing to ship some over… at your full expense of course etc… consider it just my participation in forwarding the global economy etc… but be warned as too long in the microwave can result in nasty sugar burns if too hot… you have been warned!!!!!!!!
    also… moose meat (no translation), beaver tail (not that kind of beaver), and cod tongues(yes! cod have ‘tongues’) are available upon request…!
    maybe we could trade for steak ‘n’ kidney pies?!!!
    oh yeah… ‘cuisin-arts’ really rock and appear in my humble culinary experience, to be the ULTIMATE processor… so there!!!

  9. “Light” refers to the color, not the nutritional content.

    Your standard corn syrup is dark, like molassess. Light corn syrup has gone through additional processing to remove most of the sulphur compounds that give corn syrup the dark color.

  10. Dear Sir, I am trying to find the maker
    of colorful, rainbow marshmallows… Is
    it you? I’d like to order some. Thank you. Sincerely, Beth Wilson