Mix the sugar, salt, syrup and 250ml water together. Slowly heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, but do not boil. Scrape sugar crystals from the side of the saucepan and stir in gelatine once the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (115ºC).
Beat the egg whites until stiff and slowly pour over the warm syrup, beating continuously to form a thick, creamy mixture. Add the vanilla flavouring and food colouring, if desired. Beat until stiff enough to retain its shape and form.
Mix the icing sugar and cornflour and sift into a 25cm square, greased baking tray. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the tray to a depth of about 2cm, sprinkle over more icing sugar and cornflour, and allow to set.
Heat a knife in warm water, dry, and slice the set mixture into blocks. Roll the blocks in sugar and cornstarch mixture and store the marshmallows in an airtight container.
Add ground nuts, rose petals or glacé cherries along with the vanilla flavouring, or dip the marshmallows in melted chocolate or toasted coconut.
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