A while back I saw Evelin’s post on how to make marshmallows for Valentine’s day, and I knew immediately that I would like to give it a try. With TGRWT #2 coming up (that’s the second round of the food blogging event “they go really well together”), I thought I’d make marshmallows with a banana parsley twist. I figured that the banana flavour should fit very well with the soft and airy, yet elastic texture of marshmallows. And I was very curious to find out how the parsley would fit in!
Marshmallows were originally made using egg whites and the sap of the root of the marshmallow plant which were cooked with sugar and whipped into a foam. Today the marshmallow sap and egg white have been replaced by gelatin which is a protein produced from collagen in the connective tissue of animals. Proteins are good at stabilising foams (see previous post on how to make a Vauqelin). Addition of sugar increases the viscosity which stabilizes the foam even more. In marshmallows this is taken to an extreme. A large amount of gelatin is added to a concentrated solution of sugar (and corn syrup). This mixture is whipped for about 10 minutes to incorporate air and to break up larger air bubbles into smaller ones.
The first challenge was to find a suitable recipe. There are recipes that call for sugar only whereas others call for sugar and corn syrup (this recipe also gives a hint on how to substitute fruit purree for water). Corn syrup is added to prevent crystallization. Also some recipes use egg whites which are said to give a lighter texture. I decided to go for a simple recipe and used only sugar. I would also need to substitute mashed bananas for some of the water. Addition of parsley shouldn’t need any special adjustments of the recipe. I ended up with a recipe which is more or less a mixture of all these.
If you’re unsure about the process of how to make marshmallows, Cooking for Engineers has a detailed step-by-step description with pictures. The pictures at the end of this post should also give you an idea of what the texture is like. If you’re still lost, check out this video (the first in a series of six) on how to make mango marshmallows.
Banana marshmallows with parsley
65 g water
200 g sugar
10 g gelatin, bloomed in plenty of water
65 g banana, mashed
parsley (see comment below on why it shouldn’t be finely chopped)
Bring water and sugar to boil while stirring. Remove from heat when temperature reaches 110-115 °C (230-240 F). Add bloomed gelatin sheets and mashed bananas. Whip for 10 minutes (much longer than you think!). Add parsley to taste. Grease a pan, sprinkle with powdered sugar and spread mixture in pan. When set, invert pan on a surface dusted with plenty of powdered sugar and starch. Cut up in desired pieces and coat every cut surface with powdered sugar and starch.
What about the taste? I tasted the mixture before it set and was surprised by how well the banana and parsley blended together. To be honest, it tasted really nice! The next day however, after I had cut the marshmallows into squares, they tasted quite different. The parsley aroma had changed significantly and was more reminiscent of hay, so I was quite disappointed. The banana flavour was still intact, but I felt it was somewhat weaker than in the fresh mixture. Nevertheless, some guests I served it to reached out for both a second and a third piece of my banana marshmallows with parsley, so they couldn’t have been that bad after all. Perhaps it had to do with the texture which was really, really nice!
It turns out that the hay like off flavour of parsley is well known and described in the litterature! See for instance “Hay-like off-flavour of dry parsley” or “Evaluation of the effect of drying on aroma of parsley by free choice profiling”. The molecule responsible for the hay-like off flavour is 3-methyl-2,4-nonanedione. And apparently vacuum-microwave drying of parsley gives less hay flavour.
It is suggested that the hay like off flavour is formed by oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids or polyenes. As a consequence, I would suggest not to chop the parsley (or at least leave large pieces intact) to limit the exposure to oxygen. After parsley has been added, the mixture should be mixed carefully to keep the leaves intact. I used finely chopped parsley when I made the marshmallows in order to increase the release of volatile compounds from the parsley, and I think this is the main reason why I got the hay like off flavour.
Whip until you get a thick, creamy texture.
Spread in a pan greased with butter/fat and sprinkled with powdered sugar.