Hello. If it’s your first visit to my blog, a big warm welcome to you, and if you have been here before, a big warm welcome back. Today I have decided I want to wax lyrical about rose and my love of it in my food adventures.
One of my most favourite flavours is rose. I absolutely adore it and I love experimenting with it in my cooking and baking. I get a giddiness about using roses in a culinary way as its such a timeless and natural, yet luxurious flavour. I love the aroma you experience when you open a bottle of rosewater; it gently caresses your nose and can hypnotise you, taking you away into another moment. Or perhaps that is just me?! I like to savour rose flavoured food for a special occasion, whether it be a celebration of some kind, or that special quiet moment you can sometimes grab in an otherwise hectic day.
When I think of my earliest memory of tasting rose, probably like many, its that of Turkish Delight. I don’t remember the exact details; not sure if the box was made of wood or cardboard, whether it was round or hexagonal, or how old I was, maybe 4 or 5, perhaps older? Whatever the case, I have a distinct memory of casting my eyes over the pink and yellow cubes of sweet delight in the box for the first time, not realising their vibrant colour was masked by the sweet white powder that enrobed them. I was fascinated firstly by the texture of the delights in my mouth; that solid yet soft jellylike feeling, secondly by the pink glassy colour as I licked the powder off its surface, thirdly by the imprints of teeth marks left on the little cubes once I had taken a bite, and finally, the best bit, the delicate floral rose flavour. I have a misty memory of being excited by this new flavour whilst finding it so unfamiliar and strong which was too much for my senses. I was also very excited that my Dad kindly offered to share something from his box of delights with me that he loved so much. I remember he used to get a box of Turkish Delights at Christmas from my Nana Dod, his mother-in-law, every year. This giving and sharing between 3 generations just made the event extra special.
Over the years, I have used rose in a variety of forms and in various creations. It’s hard to decide which is my favourite rose recipe; as a syrup to accompany panna cotta and its paired fruits, various forms of cake, marshmallows, and in a ready made rose harissa used to smother a piece of lamb. There are too many recipes and culinary encounters I have had with rose to go into detail in this post, so I plan to revisit them in future blog posts.
Sometimes I get a craving for a particular flavour and have an urge to satisfy it in some way. It can be through a ready made product but more often than not it’s in something that I want to make from scratch at home. It could be in a tried and tested recipe, a new one I have come across that I want to try, or even an idea I have had that I want to try out when the moment is right. When I make something sweet, it’s great to indulge my craving but it’s inevitably too much for us to eat ourselves so I love to share it around with other folk too. The most recent urge was rosewater and rose petal marshmallows. And as we had a family gathering at our house last weekend it was a perfect excuse to make another batch to firstly share with other folk as a petit four after our meal, and secondly, to satisfy my rose flavoured craving!
Now, if you have never tried fresh home made marshmallows, I beg you to make some, or at least hunt some out! Locally, we have the amazing The Marshmallow Lady in Edinburgh if you want some amazing ready made and home made marshmallows! I mean, flumps and shop bought marshmallows are nice, but home made ones are on a whole another level! I first made marshmallows when I wanted to take some gluten-free treats, that weren’t meringues again!, to a neighbours Hogmanay party a couple of years ago. This was so a neighbour and her little girls could also try my offerings along with everyone else’s contributions at the end of year feast. So I trawled through my cookery books and the internet, and thought I would give home made marshmallows a go. I went about making some vanilla ones, using vanilla essence, and they were lovely, not a big sloppy mess as I had envisaged, if not a bit flat and far too sweet; using a mixture of icing sugar and cornflour to coat them in as the recipe suggested was just too much sweetness for me. I had made some rosewater and raspberry meringues as a back up though for the party! I have made the marshmallows quite a few more times, trying a couple of different recipes, different flavours, adding fresh fruit into them, and beating them a bit longer each time to get more air into them, and now I have my perfect recipe, for now at least!
Rosewater and Rose Petal Marshmallows
I have been asked numerous times now for this recipe so have finally gotten round to writing it out! For the rose water, there are various brands, I personally like using Nielsen Massey which is relatively concentrated so have used 1tsp in the recipe, but depending on your taste, and the brand you are using, adjust the amount to your personal taste. Although the recipe calls to bring the syrup up to a temperature of 126 degrees Celsius/260 degree Fahrenheit, I can’t personally get the mixture beyond 110 degrees Celsius/230 degrees Fahrenheit due to the type of pan I have (I know I need to invest in a new pan!)*. Despite this minor point, I am really happy with the end result which is a slightly softer marshmallow; an edible fluffy rose-flavoured cloud.
My recipe is inspired by Raspberry Marshmallows by James Martin. I have tweaked the ingredients and written the method as I have made it.
This makes about 1lb/454g
1lb/454g granulated sugar
1 tbsp liquid glucose
340ml cold water
9 sheets of gelatine
2 large egg whites
1 tsp rose water
cornflour for dusting
edible rose petals (optional)
Prepare a deep square tin, approx 9″x9″, by lining with greaseproof paper. Then dust the bottom of the tin with cornflour by passing it through a sieve first before you add it to remove any clumps.
Place the granulated sugar, liquid glucose and 200ml of the water in a heavy-based pan. Heat slowly, stirring now and then until the sugar has dissolved, then bring up to the boil. Continue boiling until the temperate of the sugar mixture reaches 126 degrees Celsius/260 degrees Fahrenheight* (see recipe notes above). Whilst the sugar is coming up to temperature, soften the gelatine sheets by soaking them in the remaining 140ml water. Also, beat the egg whites until they reach the stiff peak stage.
Once the syrup has reached its desired temperature, take off the boil and slide the gelatine sheets, and its remaining water, into the syrup mix and combine thoroughly, taking extra care not to burn yourself as the syrup might bubble up.
Continue to beat the egg whites whilst slowly pouring in the hot syrup mixture. The mixture will start to thicken and take on a shiny appearance. Add the rose water to the mixture and continue whisking for around 10-15 minutes. You want the mixture to be shiny, yet light and fluffy, and to be able to hold its shape.
Once the mixture has cooled, pour it into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with a wetted palette knife. If you are using the edible rose petals, sprinkle over the surface until you get a desired covering. Place in the fridge and leave to set for a minimum of 1 hour.
Once the marshmallow is set, sieve some more cornflour into a large bowl, cut the marshmallow away from the sides of the greaseproof paper and cut into cubes of desired size; I like them as big fluffy pieces! Then gently roll the marshmallows in the cornflour. Place in an airtight container,leaving space between eat piece to prevent them sticking together. And if you haven’t eaten them already, keep them for about 3 days. Enjoy any way you fancy! I had some with a coffee, and one more with some home made blackcurrant ice cream and blackcurrant compote, such a delicious combo. If you do try them, let me know what you think!
Thanks very much for visiting my blog, hopefully see you again.