[As if raindrops decided to wear their wedding dresses - Homemade vanilla marshmallows]

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When it comes to food, I have that unhealthy obsession with categorising. Sure, there primarily is the good and the disaster; which you don’t hear very often about since I have a pretty lucky star looking upon me. But among the good, I do truly believe there are two sorts of kitchen ecstasy.

First, you’ll find the food you are familiar with. The food that makes you feel cosy and have that fulfilling sensation of I’ve been there before and my mouth knows this flavour, this texture, and this aroma.
This food is something I’ve been deeply on love with for quite some time now, and that just comforts me.

Then comes the food that tastes like the beginning of a relationship. Flirty and sometimes clumsy. This is somewhat new to me – the person who used to only make her favourites over and over again.
And trust me, it feels exciting.

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I simply love to be pushed out of my comfort zone, to feel that pleasing sensation of touching the unknown. With my latest project, I’ve been confronted with this feeling on a daily basis; and so far, I’m enjoying it. I’ve already made a couple of cards, took some macro Polaroid pictures, drew some funky design for one friend, did some stitching experiments, and made some fluffy vanilla marshmallows. Damn, those were delicious and so different from the ones we usually get around here.

In France, marshmallows get to have two different names depending on where you buy them. Visit a fine pâtisserie and they’ll be called guimauvesghee-mow-vhe (named after the plant that was once used to make them). If you go for supermarket marshmallows, you’ll be sure to find chamallowssha-mah-low; which name, I guess, comes from the French inability to correctly pronounce marshmallow.

Chamallows maison à la vanille
Adapted from Sébastien Serveau’s Confiseries.

If you’ve never made marshmallows before, this is the recipe to try first. It’s so very easy. Just make a syrup, bring it to 120°C and pour it over whipped egg whites along with some – soaked yet unmelted – gelatine sheets, and vanilla seeds and extract. Beat until the mixture reaches 40°C – or less accurately, feels warm but not hot, to touch. And you’re done.

I particularly like the fact that you add gelatine into its unmelted form – the heat from the meringue will simply dissolve it. I don’t know about you, but this makes the whole process so much easier.

As for the tasting part, well, those are good. I would maybe boost the vanilla flavour a little next time I make them. Because, yes, there’ll be a next time. Once you’ll have tasted those melt-in-your mouth little bites, I’m sure you’ll be craving for some more as well.

Chamallows maison à la vanille

makes 30-50, depending on the size you give them

6 gelatine sheets
250g caster sugar
80ml water
3 egg whites
seeds from two vanilla beans
one tsp natural vanilla extract

for the enrobage
50g icing sugar
40g corn starch

Soak the gelatine sheets into cold water.
Put the sugar and water in a pan over medium heat, bring to the boil and simmer until the syrup reaches 120°C.

While the syrup is heating, start whipping the egg whites using a stand mixer – or falling that, a powerful hand-held mixer. As the syrup reaches 120°C, increasing your mixer’s speed and gently pour the syrup down to the side of the bowl. Quickly squeeze the gelatine sheets and add them to the meringue. Finally mix in the vanilla seeds and extract, and mix until the bowl feels warm but not hot (careful as it gets really hot during the first few minutes).

As the meringue is cooling, get ready for some spatula action. Line a baking tray with baking paper and dust with the enrobing mixture.
When the meringue is thick and glossy – and not too hot, yet still warm (hope you got my point here), stop the mixer and using a spatula gently spread it onto the prepared sheet to a 2cm thick rectangle (if you want bigger marshmallows, just spread it in a thicker layer).
Allow to cool and set at room temperature overnight.

The next day, dust with the enrobing mixture and flip onto another lined baking sheet. Using a sharp knife – which you heat either using a flame or hot water (don’t forget to whip it dry) – cut the marshmallow bark into cubes. Do not hesitate to clean your knife during the process.
Then throw the marshmallow dices into the enrobing mixture and toss around until they’re well coated. Put them in a sieve and gently whirl to get rid of the excess powder.

They’ll keep well in an airtight container for about a week.

pour 30 à 50 chamallows, en fonction de la taille que vous leur donnerez

6 feuilles de gélatine
250g sucre fin
80ml eau
3 blanc d’oeufs
graines de 2 gousses de vanille
une tsp d’extrait naturel de vanille

pour l’ enrobage
50g sucre glace
40g maizena

Faire tremper la gélatine dans de l’eau froide.
Mettre le sucre et l’eau dans une casserole, porter à ébullition puis fare frémir jusqu’à ce que le sirop atteigne 120°C.

Pendant ce temps, commencer à monter les blancs en neige en utilisant un batteur puissant – idéalement, un robot type kitchenaid. Quand le sirop atteint 120°C, le verser sur les blancs en neige en le faisant couler le long des parois du bol.
Egoutter rapidement la gélatine puis l’ajouter à la meringue. Enfin, incorporer les graines et l’extrait de vanille. Continuer à mixer jusqu’à ce que la meringue atteigne 40°C – elle doit être légèrement chaude au toucher, mais pas brûlante (attention, le bol devient très chaud pendant les premières minutes).

Alors que la meringue refroidit dans le batteur, préparer une plaque à pâtisserie en la recouvrant de papier cuisson. Puis recouvrir d’un voile de poudre d’enrobage.
Quand la meringue et épaisse et brillante, l’étaler à la spatule sur la plaque précédemment préparée en un rectangle d’une épaisseur de 2cm (plus si vous souhaitez des chamallows plus gros).
Laisser refroidir et prendre à température ambiante pendant une nuit.

Le lendemain, saupoudrer de poudre d’enrobage puis retourner sur une autre plaque recouverte elle aussi de papier cuisson. En utilisant un couteau aiguisé – chauffé à la flamme ou à l’eau chaude (puis essuyé), couper la plaque de chamallow en petits cubes. Ne pas hésiter à nettoyer la lame de temps à autre.

Jeter ensuite les cubes de chamallows dans la poudre d’enrobage et mélanger afin de les recouvrir. Puis passer au chinois afin d’éliminer l’excès de poudre.

Ces chamallows se gardent bien – conservés dans une boite hermétique – pendant une semaine.