Summer in Sydney is a study of extremes; it's hot, bright, colourful, and noisy, with spectacular electrical storms, incredible downpours, and impossibly blue skies. It's not my season, maybe it's my english sensibilities, I love the gentle, more moderate autumn and spring, and relish the relative cool of winter. A silver lining though, for me, is definitely summer fruit; fridge cold water melon, stone fruit, cherries, mangos, their pips devoured over the sink, chins dripping, and berries, bring on the berries.
A couple of weeks ago at the fruit market there was a tray sale, strawberries were $6 a tray, that's 3kg for six bucks, I bought 2 trays. Six kilos is more strawberries than you might think, certainly more than I imagined, just wiping and hulling took ages! Half went into my jam pot, and just a portion of the rest into these mallows. They're packed with strawberry flavour, delicately spongy with just the right amount bounce. Homemade marshmallows are incredible, nothing like store bought, honestly, give them a go, you'll need a stand mixer and sugar thermometer, but it's plain sailing after that.
Strawberry and Chambord Marshmallows
60ml Chambord liqueur (I'm new to Chambord, and it's love at first
18g powdered geletin
500g caster sugar
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
snow sugar* for dusting
• lightly grease an 18cm by 24cm shallow cake pan and dust with snow sugar (an 18cm by 24cm pan is not essential, any pan that will give you a similar volume will be fine)
• put the strawberries in a blender and pulse to form a puree; push the puree through a sieve into a jug. You need 120ml of the sieved puree, but may have slightly more if your berries are perfectly ripe. Combine the strawberry puree with the Chambord, whisk in the gelatin, and set aside
• in a medium sized saucepan combine the caster sugar and water, cook over a gentle heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring as soon as the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the syrup reaches 125ºC on a sugar thermometer, approximately 5-8 minutes, keep a close eye on it, brushing any crystals that form on the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Once the sugar syrup reaches 125ºC, remove from the heat and add the strawberry mixture, stir until combined, take care as the mixture is seriously hot and will bubble alarmingly!
• meanwhile, using a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy; gradually add the strawberry mixture, whisking continuously on medium speed until the mixture has doubled in volume, slowly decrease the speed, mixing until the bowl is just warm to touch
• pour the mixture into the cake pan, spread evenly, then dust the surface with snow sugar. Stand at room temperature for around 3 hours or until firm. Carefully turn the mallow slab onto a snow sugar dusted board, and using a very sharp knife, cut into squares; they can be as large or small as you like, I tend to cut into 36 pieces. I have a thing for super straight edges on my mallows, and have developed an annoyingly time consuming method to achieve them. If you're not that bothered, go with the sharp knife, mallow perfectionists read on... Heat a pallet knife over a flame, and quickly use the hot knife to cut the marshmallow slab in half, repeat the heating/cutting process until you have 6 equally sized strips, washing the knife between cuts. Turn your board through 90º and repeat the cutting process, turning your 6 strips into 36 mallow squares.
• whatever your cutting method, the cut edges will be sticky, so each square will need to be rolled in snow sugar.
• store in an airtight container between sheets of baking paper, keep the container in a cool place out of direct sunlight; the mallows will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
* in Australia snow sugar is available from specialty food stores, including The Essential Ingredient, but can be substituted with a 50/50 combination of icing sugar and corn or potato starch