Delicious Marshmallows and Nigella's Blueberry MuffinsMonday, May 02, 2011
Long weekends are lovely things. They're late-sleepy, catch-uppy and friendly. I like them very much.
I've been scouring the shops around here in London looking for a pork-free gelatine. It's much more difficult than it sounds: pork is the preferred medium of the English, it seems. Luckily, the cheaper range of Dr Oetker delivers a beef-based gelatine which, while sounding particularly revolting, works just as well.
And so it was that I found myself stirring away at boiled sugar this weekend, with Delicious Magazine's marshmallow recipe and a flurry of internet searches to investigate measuring melted sugar without a sugar thermometer.
With a cover as beautiful as this, how can you resist? This is one of the few magazines I buy and hold on to - their photographs are spectacular in every issue, and they always have something that I want to try. Perfect for building a good recipe collection, and perfect for lie-ins on a Saturday morning when you want something nice to page through in bed. With coffee.
So here we are - back to this weekend - melting golden (maple) syrup with castor sugar, panicking about measuring the temperature accurately without a sugar thermometer (which I have now ordered! Turns out Nigella's sugar-thermometer-less-test is to drop some mixture into ice water and see if it turns into a malleable, soft ball of goo. If it does, you're ready. If it dissolves, let it boil for longer, and if it is immediately solid and immovable, you've gone too long) ... and wondering how this could possibly be the recipe for 'plain' white marshmallows with all that brown syrup ...
It turns out that the longer it whizzes around in the mixer, the cloudier it becomes. It's like magic -- or science.
This is a giant slab of marshmallow. I flavoured it with Innocent Smoothie (strawberry and banana) which makes it a rather peachy shade of orange. According to the recipe, you whizz the marshmallow mixture until it becomes perfectly bubblegummy, and then you pour it carefully into a clingfilm-lined baking tray to set. When you take it out of the tray, you have one enormous marshmallow that you slice into smaller blocks.
Once you've sliced it, you dust it with corn flour to get it smooth and dusty or roll it in dessicated coconut if you prefer a coconut coating. I tried both. I think that the buildings of Oompa Loompa Land must be made of marshmallow bricks -- they have a lovely sense of rigidity about them, whilst retaining that sweet, squishy marshmallow goodness that you expect.
They turned out rather well! Although, I must admit, strawberry and banana Innocent Smoothie is definitely not the best choice: I'd rather make them again using plain water for the liquid, or something a little less sweet like Baileys.
That, in the background, is a plate piled high with delicious Blueberry Muffins straight out of Nigella's book How to be a Domestic Goddess. It's a simple recipe (recipe here on Nigella's website) but it's fairly quick to put together and the resulting muffins are delicious.
I added in some orange zest to give it a bit of zing - I suspect that vanilla extract would be equally delicious though. Robyn, thank you again for my grater - I hardly ever bake without it!
... and stir in the blueberries. I'd definitely, definitely use smaller blueberries if you have the option. When you bake them, the blueberries burst and make the surrounding muffin dough a bit gooey. It is rather delicious, but not so much if your blueberries are enormous and take up half the muffin!
I love my muffin tin, but I'd definitely like to get a nice, extra deep tin that gives you tall, narrow muffins and cupcakes. I think that's the secret to the perfect baked cupcake (or in this case, muffin).
They cook in about 20 minutes, so that gives you enough time to make a cup of coffee and get out the butter for a 'hot muffin tea'. Gosh, I'm English.
I'm very happy with the way these turned out. The recipe gives you just enough batter to make 12 tall-ish muffins that are bursting with blueberries and are very easy to look at with a great sense of baking success. Ideal for tea, perfect for showing off a bit.