Okay – it’s now officially less than a month until Christmas. I’m often not the most organised person and, in years past, I have had the excuse of kids school commitments to fall back on when the season has snuck up on me, but not any more. This is the first year I’ve had without those commitments and I’m determined to get my act together and be ready for the big day in plenty of time, so here is my first homemade gift suggestion – Rosewater and Pistachio Marshmallows.
It hasn’t escaped my notice that some of my blogging buddies (yes, I’m looking at you Hotly Spiced and Bizzy Lizzy) have already got their balls rolling and are posting the kind of treats that can be given as gifts. In fact it was a post containing a recipe for coconut ice from Charlie at Hotly Spiced which brought back the memories which inspired this recipe of mine.
Back in my primary school days I attended a very poor Catholic parish school run by Dominican nuns. While they could get a little tetchy in the classroom and were quite handy with the cane, their general goodness was unforgettable. These women quite literally went without food at times to ensure that their school students didn’t lack necessary materials. (As discovered by the parish priest, when he wandered into their very bare convent pantry one day. He just about seared the stations of the cross off the walls when he delivered a blistering sermon the following Sunday, aimed at those who had neglected to pay their school fees.) One of the favourite ways to raise some quick funds was a cake stall or, less often, a full-blown school fete.
Every family (read “mother”) was expected to whip up some treat to donate to the cause and in those oh-so-politically-incorrect days the sure-fire money spinners were always the homemade sweets. Things were pretty simple in our neck of the woods back then, and most mothers stuck to the basics from the back of the Green and Gold Cookbook. Five cents would get you a stick-jaw toffee guaranteed to pull out any loose baby teeth, breakfast cereal, in the shape of honey joys and chocolate crackles reigned supreme and sticky, small children bounced off walls for hours on a sugar high.
My mother lacked both the time and inclination to engage in confectionery production so, from an alarmingly young age, I was let loose – alone – in our appliance-free kitchen with saucepans full of boiling sugar. Believe me, getting toffee to stop at the chewy stage without the benefit of a sugar thermometer is tricky. Once or twice I attempted homemade marshmallows, which were always a hit and fantastic to eat, but less fantastic to make with nothing more sophisticated than the hand-turned rotary beater that was available to me.
Now that I have the technology, marshmallows are actually a joy to make. What took at least 20 minutes of hard work with the eggbeater now takes about 4 minutes with my much-loved KitchenAid stand mixer and the whisk attachment. Even if you only have electric hand beaters you’ll still be able to make these in less than 15 minutes. Using only 5 ingredients, these rosewater and pistachio marshmallows are deliciously soft and melt-in-the-mouth and, covered in the gorgeous green crushed pistachios, they are perfectly Christmassy.
Rosewater and Pistachio Marshmallows
- 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 4 tsp gelatine powder
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 2 tsp rosewater
- few drops of red food colouring
- crushed pistachios to coat
- Thoroughly grease a 28cm x 19cm x 4cm baking tray. Line with tin foil and spray that, too.
- Place sugar and water in small saucepan over low heat. Heat stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
- Dissolve gelatine powder in hot water, stirring vigorously.
- Put sugar syrup and gelatine mix into mixing bowl and mix on high speed until white and thickened - about 4 minutes.
- With beaters still running, add rosewater and red colouring until the desired shade of pink is reached.
- Pour into prepared tray and allow to cool at room temperature for about 2 hours.
- Cut into squares and dredge in crushed pistachios.