Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I really must buy an electric beater

I'd had my eye on apricot marshmellow (p198) for quite a while. It was one of the recipes I considered when I was trying to use up leftover egg white some weeks ago. However, I didn't have a can of apricots in the cupboard at the time, so I ended up making meringues instead.

I bought some canned apricots shortly after that, and since then I have been meaning to have a go at this one. Last night I finally got around to it. I only wanted enough for myself, so once again, I decided on a half mix.

This meant trying to beat a single egg white to stiff peaks. Deciding that one egg white would not be enough for my big mixer, I once again got out the eggbeater to do it by hand. In a short while, I had nice stiff egg whites, and was able to add the gelatine, which I'd had dissolving in water while I beat the eggs. I added the gelatine gradually as per the recipe, and very soon had a smooth, thick marshmallowy mixture.

At this point I started adding the sugar. This is where I ran into touble. I'd beaten the mixture "until very stiff" after adding the gelatine, just like it said in the recipe. But I found that it was so stiff - in fact almost set - that I couldn't beat in the sugar. The mixture kept clumping around my beater and jamming it up.

Eventually I discarded the beater and stirred the sugar in by hand. Then I tried to fold through my pureed apricots, but did not really achieve the desired result. The mixture was lumpy as a result of partially setting before the addition of sugar, and the apricot puree wouldn't combine with it to make a smooth mixture.

In an attempt to get a smoother texture, I gave up on folding and simply stirred the apricots through. This removed some of the lumps, and mixed the apricot in more thoroughly, but took a bit of the air out of the mixture. When I finally poured the mixture into dessert glasses to set, it still looked lumpy and odd: not what I'd pictured at all.

The marshmallow never set properly. It kind of firmed up, but not the way it should have. It actually tasted really nice, but the texture was distinctly weird.

I have a theory that if I'd had a hand-held electric beater, I could have got everything mixed through properly before it started setting. One of these days I'll buy one, but in the meantime, I'm considering another attempt with the eggbeater - this time adding the sugar before the gelatine. It might just make the difference.

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