Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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, a shrubby herb (Althaea officinalis), instead of gelatin; the mucilage performed as a cough suppressant.
Commercial marshmallows are a late 19th century innovation. Since Alex 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 .
Marshmallows are popular with children and adults alike, and are eaten with or without accompaniments. In Thanksgiving, marshmallows are often placed on top of a dish of candied sweet potatoes. By far the most popular places to find marshmallows are as roast marshmallows, in jello salads , in rice krispie treats and in s'mores. Rice Krispies are a puffed rice breakfast cereal that are combined with melted marshmallows to produce a crunchy, sweet bar. S'mores are traditionally made by cooking a marshmallow over an open fire, especially a campfire, and then placing it with chocolate between graham crackers. Marshmallows are also often added to hot chocolate or café mocha (mochachino). Marshmallow is an ingredient of Mallomars. Marshmallows take so little heat to roast that they can even be roasted by the flame of a candle. They can also be melted in a pan on the stove to make s'mores.
Marshmallows and vegetarians
Most commercial marshmallows are unsuitable for strict vegetarians, since the gelatin used is almost universally derived from food animal hides or bones. Similarly, commercial kosher pareve marshmallows usually use fish gelatin. Vegetable-derived gums often make an unsatisfactory product that does not have the spring or firmness expected of gelatin-based marshmallows.
Also, Marshmallow Fluff and some other non-firm marshmallow products, either the commercial product or homemade, are suitable for vegetarians as most contain no gelatin, which mainly serves to allow the familiar marshmallow confection to retain its shape. These non-gelatin products, known generically as marshmallow creme, are fine for any confection using melted marshmallows or where the shape is less important, such as s'mores. Balls of marshmallow creme can be roasted, though it can be challenging and messy.
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