Thursday 29 March 2012

Cookery book review : Marshmallow Madness – Shauna Sever

I have to say, hats off to the marketing team at Quirk Books because they've come up with a book that physically resembles its content. The word marshmallows conjures up soft, airy, pastel colours and that's exactly what you get when you pick up the book because it has a squishy, puffy padded cover covered in pictures of beautiful marshmallows and promises “dozens of puffalicious recipes”.

I have to admit that until a very short time ago, when I reviewed the Leon recipe book, I never would have dreamed of making marshmallows at home. They just seemed like one of those highly complicated, artificially manufactured products that you'd never be able to create in your own kitchen. Well, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one because the introduction is called “Wait, you can MAKE marshmallows ?” ! The author, Shauna Sever, explains that it's part confectionery and part science experiment (sounds fun !) and that the “fluffy, soft, whipped pillows of sugar” that you can make at home are nothing like the ones you buy in bags in the supermarket.

Did you know, for example, that the original marshmallows were created by the ancient Egyptians who worked out how to extract the sticky, gelatinous gel from marshmallow roots and combined it with honey ? For the modern day version though, all you actually need is a handful of ingredients – sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, water, salt, vanilla extract and coating (confectioner's sugar and potato starch). The ingredients list gives it away – this is an American book so, if you're reading it on this side of the Pond, you will need to do a bit of converting and translating – confectioner's sugar is icing sugar to us Brits and potato starch is ... well, I'm not actually sure so I'll have to investigate !

As well as providing us with the traditional vanilla recipe, the book offers a surprisingly varied selection of recipes, including Kahlua-filled marshmallows, chocolate-peppermint marshmallows and Jam-filled marshmallows. I thought that was an impressive enough selection but that was just “The Classics” ! The following sections get “Fresh and Fruity” (apple-cinnamon, honeyed apricot and pumpkin spice all sound very intriguing) using natural fruit flavours and essential oils, before moving on to “Happy Hour” with its cocktail-inspired marshmallows (be warned, the alcohol makes it all a lot trickier apparently so don't attempt these until you've had a play with the basic recipes first !) and gourmet flavours and textures “For The Mallow Connoisseur”. Who would have dreamed that you could make maple-bacon marshmallows (nicknamed The Elvis) ?!

I love the “Fluffy Puffs For Gifting” and “Kids In A Candy Store” suggestions which look amazing. If you want to do more than just eat marshmallows as they are, the final section also offers you some great ways of incorporating them into sticky desserts and treats, including cookie sandwiches, rocky road, hot chocolate and Ballpark Popcorn Balls, which sound gooey and delicious.

I haven't had time to have a play yet but the book has really made me want to give it a go. I think I might have to invest in a confectioner's thermometer first though as it all sounds quite precise !

Star rating : 4/5

RRP : £11.99

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books (5 April 2012)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1594745722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594745720
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 19.6 x 2.5 cm

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  1. I am not the biggest fan of marshmallows though enjoy them at Christmas time, and of course, sprinkled on top of the hot chocolate. Haven't seen this book, maybe once it appears in The Book People online shop, I might be tempted to buy it, as I cannot resist the cook books

  2. what a fantastic review. I will have to look out for this book - recipes and facts too!

  3. I love marshmallows and think this book sounds excellent, I'm going to look out for it!

  4. Marshmallows brill my fave food, would be great to have a recipe book full of marshmallow recipes.

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  6. What a fantastic review this book sounds good. Click hear for reviews of cookery books .


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