At this time of year there is one thing that distinguishes those who cycle to college from those who take the bus. A badge that sets us apart, war wounds from a battle against external forces:
The wet thigh.
Don’t pretend you understand, bus-takers. Try to imagine a large oval, a shade darker than your trousers, appearing mid-thigh whilst cycling in the rain, refusing to disappear till at least period 2. Real fun. Or not…
Cyclists, you know who you are; you who leaned into that icy wind, took sleet to the face, arrived with eye make-up even pandas would be proud of and… a wet thigh. Compulsory damp, cold legs for the rest of the day: The mark of a true trouper.
These marshmallows are for you. Let the warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and clove warm your cockles and wrap yourself in a cloud of icing sugar and pillowy marshmallow till the trials of the day have passed. Put them in your hot chocolate. Make radiator s’mores*. Toast them over a camp fire in the middle of the woods if you really want. Or just sit under a blanket in front of Come Dine With Me with the mixing bowl and a spoon and feel a little bit sorry for yourself. I give you my full permission, you deserve it.
*This invention is owed to the sister – my main gal. Take 2 of your favourite biscuits (I highly recommend the dark chocolate Hobnob), place a marshmallow and 2 squares of chocolate in between, making a sandwich. Wrap tightly in tinfoil and wedge in/on/down the radiator for about ½ an hour. Uncover and eat quickly before your sister can get her hands on it.
Note to self: Waterproof trousers might not be such a bad idea.
Chai Latte Marshmallows
makes 36; adapted from Smitten Kitchen
For the icing sugar dusting
65g icing sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
For the marshmallows
1 tbsp. + 1¼ tsp. powdered gelatine
100ml cold water
230g caster sugar
80g glucose syrup
½ tsp. salt
1 large egg white
1 tsp. vanilla extract mixed with 15ml water
3 cardamom pods
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
Pestle and mortar
Line the bottom of a 20 x 20 x 5cm baking tin with baking paper. Using a piece of kitchen towel, grease the baking paper and sides of the tin with the vegetable oil.
Make the icing sugar dusting by mixing the icing sugar and spices in a small bowl and transfer about 1 tbsp. of the mix to the tin, tapping it around till the sides and base are covered. Tip any remaining icing sugar back into the bowl.
In a large bowl sprinkle the gelatine over 50ml of cold water and leave to stand.
Place the caster sugar, glucose syrup, salt and the other 50ml of water into a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring until the sugar’s dissolved. Once dissolved increase the heat to moderate and boil the mixture, not stirring, until the sugar thermometer reaches 240°F/Soft ball stage. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot sugar over the gelatine, stirring until the gelatine’s dissolved.
Using an electric mixer beat the mix on high speed until it becomes thick and white and has almost tripled in volume. This will take about 12 minutes if using a hand-held mixer.
Take the marshmallow spices and using a pestle and mortar crush them down as finely as you can manage. Place this chunky powder, the vanilla extract and water into a small saucepan and simmer for a minute or so. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg white till it forms stiff peaks. Sieve the spice mixture (draining out any large pieces of spice) into the sugar mixture along with the egg whites and beat until just combined. Pour the mallow into your dusted baking tin and sift some of the icing sugar mixture over the top. Chill the marshmallow, uncovered, for at least 3 hours.
Run a knife around the tin’s edges and turn the pan upside down onto a large cutting board dusted with a little more of your icing sugar mix. Loosen the mallow with your fingers and onto the board, and peel the baking paper off. Using a large knife trim the edges of the marshmallows and cut into 3cm cubes. Sift the remaining icing sugar into the empty baking tin and roll your cubes of mallow through it, covering all 6 sides before shaking off any excess. Keep in a sealed container for up to a week.