Whenever I make ice cream, I always make meringues. All those leftover egg whites need using up, of course, and there’s nothing nicer than being able to offer your guests a plate of a cute little meringue kisses to have with a cup of tea or coffee!
Ho ho ho, it’s a Ciate Mini Mani Month ahead!
Well, well, well – look what got delivered to my house today!
I decided to treat myself to an advent calendar with a difference this year, and the Ciate Mini Mani Month looked so enticing I couldn’t resist! (Especially as I was lusting after the Caviar pearls – four colours inside!) Expect an update every day in December (well, up until Christmas Eve!) with a brand new shade…
A decadent diet dessert
When you’re on a diet, sometimes all you can think about is what you can’t eat. Sugary treats, cream – desserts in general, really. Low-calorie puddings tend to consist mostly of jellies, fruit, frozen yogurt, or cake bars – which are okay, but not always the sort of thing that sends you to that comforting, cozy, little sugar-high paradise that you seek when you’re feeling deprived. However, it is possible to find some low calorie desserts in the supermarket that definitely taste like a treat, and look like one too – and better yet, they don’t break the bank. I’m talking, of course, about toffee cream meringues! Chocolate, cream, toffee, and a heck of sugar, all for 130 calories? Yes, please! These cost £1.09 for two at Tesco, and you can also buy a similar product from Marks and Spencer (which tastes better – crispier meringue – but naturally, costs more). Since I discovered these, I’ve scoffed my way through one every night for four days, and I’m not sorry at all – they are delicious. Separate the delicious halves of the shell and eat them like buttered toast, with a cup of tea, in front of the telly. The best post-workout snack I know…*
* I don’t know much about post-workout snacks. But hey, toffee cream.
This weekend I’ve had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with Life is Sweet, by Hope and Greenwood, which is, as it so rightly says on the cover, a collection of splendid old-fashioned confectionary (buy it if you get the chance! It’s very reasonably priced and ever so good). I’ve made marshmallows, fudge and cinder toffee, and although the cinder toffee wasn’t the best I’ve ever tasted, I was particularly pleased with the fudge. However, as Halloween is coming up, I thought I’d make some spooky Halloween marshmallows by colouring them purple. The vanilla marshmallow recipe in Life is Sweet is unfortunately misprinted and the ingredients list is screwed up, so I’ve adapted my own from the recipe for Mallows D’Amour. There are a few technical aspects to this recipe which might prove difficult – you need a stand mixer (although I did experiment with an electric handheld whisk, and the patient might just be able to cope like this, holding it for around 15 minutes!) and a sugar thermometer. I had to borrow both of these, but a sugar thermometer is a great investment for making fudge, toffee, caramel and jam.
Halloween Marshmallows (adapted from Mallows D’Amour, Life is Sweet by Hope and Greenwood)
- 450g (1lb) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp liquid glucose
- 1 sachet powdered gelatine
- Good dab of purple colouring paste (I used Wilton’s Violet)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large egg whites
- Cornflour and icing sugar, to dust
- Purple sugar/black stars or any Halloween themed decorations
- Line a 20cm/8inch square baking tin with baking parchment or greaseproof paper and dust with cornflour and icing sugar. I’ve found you need a heck of a lot of this to keep the marshmallow from sticking.
- In a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the sugar, glucose and 200ml of water and stir. Place over a medium-high heat and add your sugar thermometer. Keep cooking until the temperature reaches 127C or 260F. This could take 15 minutes or as long as 25, so keep an eye on it.
- Whilst this is happening, put 100ml of boiled water in a bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Stir well until dissolved. This will really smell. Gelatine is not suitable for veggies, and from the smell of the gelatine, you will know why. Don’t panic, the smell goes away, and there is no taste of the gelatine whatsoever in the finished marshmallow. Now that would be Halloweeny…
- When your gelatine and water is mixed well, add the vanilla and a good dab of purple colouring. For Halloween, you could also try black, orange and green – just remember that the colour will fade because of the egg whites, and the dusting of sugar and cornflour. When you add the food colouring, you should get a very dark colour. So much that you are secretly thinking ‘oh dear, I put too much in’. This will most likely give you a subtle shade…
- When your syrup has reached the right temperature, you need to have a little panic attack and start jumping up and down and worrying you’re not ready. Don’t worry if you haven’t mixed your gelatine yet – I did this and it turned out all right. Just add it to the pan of sugar syrup and mix well. It’ll bubble, so watch out.
- Get your stand mixer and whip the eggs until stiff peaks form. Turn the mixer down as slowly as it will go, and add the syrup and gelatine in very gently. Slow, slow. This could take a while… The heat from the syrup is heating the egg whites, so if you pour it on too fast, it’s likely the word could implode.
- When you’ve done this, you turn the speed up to superfast and leave to beat for at least 15 minutes. The mix is ready when it holds onto the whisk well, and is thick and shiny.
- Pour into your dusted pan. Leave it to set for a long time – the book says 2 hours, but I’ve left mine overnight before.
- Turn the marshmallow out onto another dusted piece of parchment paper. If you’re like me, the mix will still have stuck to the bottom of your originally dusted piece of paper, so dust all sides until nothing is sticky. Then, slice and dust, slice and dust, into whatever shapes you like. Once you’ve dusted your marshmallows, you can shake off the excess coating by throwing them gently from hand to hand. Store in parchment paper.
- Serve with edible sugar, as above, or with anything suitably Halloweeny…
How about black sugar stars, like the first photo? Or purple sanding sugar, like the photo above?Or, if you want to be more sophisticated, why not keep your mallow mix white, and then decorate with tiny gold stars? (I got mine from Jane Asher’s site.)
These are too good to give to Halloween trick or treaters…