Fall is just around the corner, and with it comes cooler weather. Don’t be disheartened by the dropping temperatures; instead, light the hearth, stoke the outdoor fire pit or wait a while before putting the grill in the garage. Toasted marshmallows are the ultimate way to usher in the cooler season.
Marshmallows have a pretty interesting history. The althea officinalis, or marshmallow plant, was initially used for its healing properties (Althainein in Greek means "to heal"). The root of this native African plant also produces a sticky white substance which the Egyptians combined with honey to make candy.
Not surprisingly, in the mid-19th century, the French turned the treat into the fluffy puff we know today as a marshmallow. They combined egg whites, water, sugar and the marshmallow root and then molded the mixture into individual candies. They were also dusted with corn starch to prevent them from sticking to everything. Over time, the marshmallow root has been replaced with gelatin, but the basic homemade recipe remains the same.
Marshmallows are pretty easy to make, but you will need a candy thermometer and an electric mixer or beater. You can use them in all sorts of ways: in cocoa, for puffed rice treats or for dipping in chocolate or caramel.
Toasted marshmallows are probably best known for their starring roles in sweet potato casserole (a Southern staple at Thanksgiving) and s’mores. The technique you use for toasting is very personal. Some prefer the rotisserie method, gently turning their mallow until it’s evenly browned. Others jump right in and engulf the puff in flames. Whatever your preferred technique, there’s something very satisfying about enjoying this treat outdoors before the cold really sets in.