A far cry from the glutinous splodges of sugar we ate as kids, proper marshmallows are a fondant delight – and making a comeback as confectioners give them the gourmet treatment.
You probably associate marshmallows with childhood parties, sleepovers and games of Fluffy Bunnies – or exploits around campfires as a Girl Guide or a Scout. Nice, but those chewy, synthetic blobs of pink, sugary goo aren’t the real deal at all. Soft, light and made with grown-up flavours, the marshmallows these ten makers produce are as close to the 19th-century French delicacy you can get without stepping into a time machine.
1. Cloud Nine Marshmallows
Murphy Williams’s marshmallows came about partly by accident. A keen amateur cook, she decided to have a go after she came across a recipe for honey and lavender marshmallows in January last year. Her first attempt was a disaster, but she caught the bug and spent the next two months researching how to get it right. Using proper natural ingredients such as raspberries from her own garden, and Cornish sea salt from near her home in Port Eliot, she now supplies Selfridges with her feather-light creations.
2. The Marshmallowists
A chance meeting in a bar led chocolatier Oonagh Simms and cocktail maker Kim Smart to set up The Marshmallowists. The duo worked together to harness the nostalgia of childhood sweet-eating and marry it with interesting, grown-up flavours. Their marshmallows are egg-white, dairy and gluten-free, and come in the kind of flavours you’d never have found when you were little, such as blueberry and gin, raspberry and champagne, and strawberry and basil.
3. Bonny Confectionery
Cordie Strube and Jackie Lee met while walking their dogs in their village in north Wales and discovered that their daughters were born on the same day. It was the beginning of a friendship that has seen the two collaborate to produce gourmet marshmallows in flavours inspired by their home countries of Germany and Hong Kong. All their sweets are handmade, leading them to win the seal of approval from both the Great Taste Awards and the Guild of Fine Food.
4. Eat Toast Dunk Me
Hazel Wright started experimenting with food when she was a child, later gaining a degree in food science, with her aim always being to make and sell her own food. The first batch of marshmallows she made was chocolate flavoured, and made with high-quality, sustainable cocoa, which set the tone for all the flavours that followed. Her marshmallows have a consistency that suits them to roasting on an open fire, and live up to the name – ready to be eaten, dunked or toasted.
5. The Marshmallow Lady
Nicole Roberts loved marshmallows so much when she was growing up that, when she found herself without a job as a new graduate in a recession, she decided to work for herself by making her favourite sweets. Based in Edinburgh, she uses high-quality ingredients to make playful treats that match the season or occasion, such as Key Lime Pie Marshmallows, which come with a crumbly-biscuit base, as well as favourites like her Great Taste Award-winning raspberry marshmallows.
Confektz were making marshmallows long before these sweets went all gourmet, developing their product in 2006 by testing flavours on customers at farmers’ markets across the east of England. As well as making “melting marshmallows” full of flavour, their sweets are a feast for the eyes. Their Gold Saffron marshmallow, for example, is finished with 23-carat gold leaf gilding, an exotic look to match the eastern flavours of honey, saffron and spices.
7. The Art of Mallow
Making marshmallows by hand and with quality ingredients is only half the story for Philippa Quayle. She was inspired by seeing Americans making marshmallows and, from that point on, she knew she’d never be buying supermarket versions again. She believes the secret of a good marshmallow lies in the boiling temperature of the sugar, the whipping time and, of course, what you put in the mix. Based in Leeds, she converted her garage into a dedicated kitchen and her marshmallow making has gone from strength to strength.
8. Mallow and Marsh
Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie first made marshmallows as a challenge. The excited reaction of her taste-testers was addictive, and Mallow & Marsh was born. Her handmade marshmallows depart somewhat from the template, in that Pleydell-Bouverie prefers a firmer product. The denser texture of her confections makes them well suited for cooking. She suggests roasting them or cooking them in puddings.
9. London Marshmallows
Looking for novel Christmas gifts to give to their friends, Amy Nelson and Ross O’Brien made a batch of vanilla marshmallows. Two and a bit years later and they’re still at it, selling marshmallows named after different areas of London at food markets across the capital. They layer their flavours, stacking two together to create sweets with pleasing looks and well-balanced flavour combinations.
10. Belinda Clark
No matter how sophisticated and grown-up our palate may be, Belinda Clark believes that the sweets of our childhood take everyone’s fancy every now and then. Fortnum & Mason clearly agree with her, and began selling her marshmallows earlier this year. She produces refreshingly light flavours like mango, raspberry and rose, as well as more indulgent flavours such as salted caramel and passionfruit.
Read the original top ten as it first appeared on Flavour