Wow, it's been an exhausting week. I'm only just starting to get over being jet lag's bitch, so if I start to ramble in this post please excuse me because I'm very sleep deprived. It's been pretty hard to get back into the swing of things, I'm suffering some serious post-holiday blues as you would expect after having such a fun and food-filled trip. I've been catching up with friends and going through our giant collection of holiday photos and while it's nice to see how much fun we obviously had, I'm sad that it's over. I keep wishing I was back in Barcelona or Paris!
Speaking of Paris, I had the chance to sample some of the lovely treats at Pierre Hermé while I was over there. This included his famous ispahan creation, which combines the flavours of rose, raspberry and lychee. It's a truly perfect marriage of flavours; the sweetness of the lychee and the fragrance of rose are the perfect counterbalance for the tartness of the raspberry. One of my favourite treats that I picked up were these ispahan pâtes de fruits with two distinct layers, which worked well to keep the flavours distinct while in a single mouthful.
I decided to do a similar effect but with some homemade marshmallows instead. I'm always surprised whenever I post a marshmallow recipe how many comments I get from people who have never tried homemade marshmallows. It's a real shame because you are really missing out if you've only ever tried storebought ones. They are nothing alike and I've never been a big fan of the mass-produced version. The homemade ones are so light and fluffy, and you can add all kinds of delicious flavours to them. They're a lot of fun to make once you get the hang of it.
My original plan was to top these marshmallows with some crumbled freeze-dried raspberries, to give it a pretty pop of colour as well as an extra tartness. Unfortunately I didn't have much luck finding anywhere that sells them, but I did manage to find some really pretty dried rose petals. They're mostly meant for infusing, so I wasn't sure how well they would work sprinkled on top. I tried to chop it up very, very finely and only sprinkled on a little bit, but even then I'm not sure it was a very successful experiment as the petals were quite soft. If I had the choice again I would definitely replace it with my original idea of the raspberries.
This recipe is a great opportunity for anyone who hasn't tried the combination of these three flavours together, or hasn't tried a homemade marshmallow before. Some tips when making the marshmallows; it can get sticky and messy with all the sugar syrup, so make sure you have all your kitchen utensils ready to go and your ingredients measured out beforehand. Make sure you give your marshmallows enough time to set and dry out uncovered either in a cool room or in your fridge, as they will release quite a lot of moisture while they are setting. If you don't let them release that moisture they will go all goopy and sticky when you dust them. Not a huge deal if that happens, just leave them out to dry for longer and re-dust them. When cutting and handling the marshmallows, use a light touch and keep your hands dry and well-dusted.
Ispahan (Lychee, Rose & Raspberry) Marshmallows
(adapted from my Oreo Marshmallow recipe, makes about 40 marshmallows)
2 x 250g (about 1 cup) sugar
2 x 2 tsp liquid glucose or light corn syrup
2 x 1 tbsp gelatine powder
2 x 1 large egg whites
Vegetable oil for greasing
For the raspberry rose flavour:
125g fresh or frozen raspberries, pureed & strained
1-3 tbsp rose water or rose syrup, adjusted to taste
For the lychee flavour:
1 can of lychees in syrup, or about 250g fresh, peeled lychees, enough to make 2/3 cup of puree
1/2 cup (75g) icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), sifted
1/2 cup (75g) cornflour (cornstarch)
Optional: edible dried rose petals, finely chopped, or freeze dried raspberries
Grease and line the base and sides with baking paper of a 24x32cm lamington tray, or two 20cm square cake tins. You should lightly grease the baking paper as well, to make it easier to peel away from the marshmallow once it is set. Make the raspberry rose layer first; place 250g caster sugar, 2 tsp glucose in a small saucepan. Place raspberry puree in a measuring cup and top up with rose water or rose syrup to make 2/3 cup of liquid. Alternatively you can replace any amount of the rose with plain water, adjust it to your taste. Add puree mixture to the saucepan and place on low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Place 100ml cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle 1 tbsp gelatine powder over it and set aside to soften. Increase heat on saucepan to medium-high and insert a sugar thermometer. Boil for 3-5 minutes, until sugar thermometer reaches 120°C (250°F) (I got my candy thermometer from a $2 dollar shop for those wondering). Remove from the heat and carefully add gelatine to mixture and whisk until gelatine dissolves and no lumps remain (if you are worried about this step you can heat the bowl of gelatine over a pot of simmering water first to make it smoother before adding it).
Place egg white in a large mixing bowl and start beating with an electric mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed. Gradually add hot sugar syrup to the egg white while mixing, if you are using a hand mixer you should beat your egg whites to a stiff peak before you start adding the syrup, but it works fine to add it as soon as you start beating the egg in a stand mixer. Beat until mixture is glossy and thick, about 5 minutes on a stand mixer and closer to 10 with a hand mixer. Before mixture starts to cool too much, pour mixture into prepared tin and use a spatula to quickly smooth top. Try to keep it as smooth as possible so you have nice, neat layers. Repeat entire process above for the second layer, replacing the raspberry and rose with lychee puree instead (I topped it up to equal 2/3 cup of liquid using the lychee syrup from the can). Sprinkle the dried rose petals or freeze-dried raspberries over the top for decoration.
Leave to set at room temperature overnight (or in the fridge uncovered if you are doing this in summer). Mix icing sugar & cornstarch together in a large bowl. Using a lightly greased knife or dusted with the icing sugar mixture, cut 3-4cm sized squares. Roll marshmallows in the icing sugar mixture, covering all sides well then shake off any excess. Place on a wire rack or a piece of baking paper to dry for at least a few hours, then store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week (you may need to re-coat in the icing sugar mixture after a few hours after you first dust them).