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The marshmallow is a confection that, in its modern form, consists of sugar or corn syrup, beaten egg whites, gelatin that has been pre-softened in water, gum arabic, and flavorings, whipped to a spongy consistency. The traditional recipe used an extract from the mucilaginous root of the marshmallow plant, a shrubby herb (Althaea officinalis), instead of gelatin; the mucilage acted as a cough suppressant .

Commercial marshmallows are a late nineteenth century innovation. Since Doumak's patented extrusion process of 1948, marshmallows are extruded as soft cylinders, cut in sections and rolled in a mix of finely powdered cornstarch and confectioner's sugar. Current brands of commercially made marshmallows include Kraft and Nestle.

Marshmallows are also used in hot chocolate or café mocha (mochachino), Mallomars, Peeps and other candy, Rice Krispie treats, ice cream flavors such as Rocky Road, and S'mores, on top of candied yams during Thanksgiving, and in several other foodstuffs.


Toasted or roasted marshmallows

Roasting a marshmallow over a campfire.

A popular camping or backyard tradition in the United States is the toasting or roasting of marshmallows over a campfire or other source of an open flame. A marshmallow is placed on the end of a stick or skewer or antler and held over the fire until it turns golden brown. This creates a caramelized outer skin with a liquid, melted layer underneath. According to individual preference, the marshmallows are heated to various degrees—from a gentle toasting to burning the outer layer. Either the toasted marshmallow can be eaten whole or the outside layer can be consumed separately and the marshmallow toasted again. S'mores are made by placing the toasted marshmallow atop a slice of chocolate which is placed between two graham crackers. Some companies such as The Hershey Company mass produce prepackaged S'mores.

Marshmallows and vegetarians

Marshmallows were originally made with the eponymous marshmallow plant extract acting as a gelling agent. Most commercially manufactured marshmallows use gelatin instead of real marshmallow extract because of the expense. Many vegetarians avoid gelatin, as it is usually derived from animal hides or bones. Commercial kosher pareve marshmallows may also be considered unsuitable for vegetarians; they usually use fish gelatin. However, fish is deemed not to be meat in kashrut, so they are an option for some.

It is possible to make marshmallows without gelatin by making them the traditional way, by using powdered marshmallow root, egg whites, cane sugar, and vanilla extract, although powdered marshmallow root may be difficult to obtain. They also can be made using commercially-available gelatin alternatives. Other vegetable gums often make an unsatisfactory product that does not have the spring or firmness expected of gelatin-based marshmallows. Some marshmallows marketed as appropriate for vegans are made using carrageenan and agar as gelling agents. [1]

Marshmallow fluff and other slightly less firm marshmallow products generally contain almost no gelatin, which mainly serves to allow the familiar marshmallow confection to retain its shape. These non-gelatin products, known generally as marshmallow creme, are fine for any confection using melted marshmallows or where the shape is not that important. Balls of marshmallow creme can also be roasted, though it can be challenging and messy. Marshmallow creme can also be added to peanut butter and bread to create a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich, sometimes referred to as a fluffernutter.

See also




External links

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