Your favorite roasted campfire treat could actually be keeping you healthy with this traditionally inspired marshmallow recipe.
Marshmallows are named after Althaea officinalis plant, or marshmallow plant, which was an herb that was used in the earliest marshmallow recipes. Though, if you’re purchasing marshmallows at the store, you won’t find any marshmallow root listed on the packaging. Instead, you will find that the soft pillowy treat is made up of gelatin and sugar.
Even most vegan marshmallow recipes leave out the infamous marshmallow root, which is full of health benefits, unlike its modern processed counterpart.
In an effort to recreate the traditional marshmallow, I’ve done quite a bit of digging, and trial and error research. Here’s what I’ve found.
Why Don’t Marshmallows Have Marshmallow Root Anymore?
Great question. Ultimately, the ingredient became moot when the candied treat met manufacturing in the 19th century.
Starting around 1900, marshmallows began mass production, and gelatin and other whipping agents were used, replacing the original mallow sap.
At the same time, JELL-O was becoming more and more popular as a dessert in the US, and in 1948, Alex Doumak patented the extrusion process for manufacturing marshmallows. A couple of years later, the United States popularized the sugary deliciousness and marshmallows became a go-to ingredient for many popular desserts. Including the fall campfire favorite: S’mores!
Fun Fact: S’Mores are attributed to the Girl Scouts of America, and the name actually began as a joke, they are so good the kids would yell “Gimme S’more.” Eventually, that was shortened to just S’more.
Health Benefits of Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root, or Althea officinalis, has been a medicinal herb for centuries. Research shows that the Egyptians used it as early as 2000 BC. Cultures across the centuries have turned to this medicinal herb for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Administration comes in powder, capsule, teas, topical ointments, and syrups.
While recent studies have not conclusively proven the potential health benefits, there is evidence showing the effectiveness of the root through small scale human studies and animal studies.
Medical News Today cites six reported health benefits of marshmallow root with recent scientific backing:
- Relieving coughs with mallow root lozenges, syrup, or herbal mixture
- Improving dry mouth with lozenges or tea
- Protecting the gut against ulcers with orally administered extract
- Soothing skin irritation and inflammation with a topical treatment
- Speed up the healing of wounds by applying the extract topically.
Homemade Vegan Marshmallows
- 2/8 teaspoon mallow root powder
- 1/2 cup aquafaba– or white bean liquid from a can (I used chickpea liquid)
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract (or flavor of choice)
- 1 1/8 cup cane sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon agar agar — seaweed gelatin
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Standing Mixer
- 8×8 Baking Dish
Dust your baking dish
Using your powdered sugar, dust the bottom of the baking dish.
Make your Fluff
Put the Aquafaba, Mallow Root, and Cream of Tartar in the standing mixer on full speed for 10 minutes. Add your vanilla, or other extract into the mixture around the 6 minute mark.
Make the Syrup
Put the sauce pan on the stove and boil together the water and agar agar for 3 minutes. Add your sugar and turn the heat down to medium, stirring constantly the whole time.
Beat it all together
Turn the mixer on low and pour the syrup mixture slowly into your fluff, beating for about 1 minute.
Pour into your Baking Pan
This step needs to happen quickly
Dust the top with Powdered Sugar
Let cool for 1 hr.
Cut your squares
Coat all sides of each square with powdered sugar and place on baking tray with parchment paper.
Put in the Oven
Turn the oven to 150 degrees. Once it hits temperature, turn it off, place the marshmallows in the oven for another hour.
Use your marshmallows as you would in your favorite desserts! Toast them, add them to s’mores, rice crispy treats, make your own peeps, cover them in chocolate, etc.
It’s important to turn the oven off before putting the marshmallows in. You could also just skip this step, and allow the marshmallows to dry out at room temperature.
Make sure to let the marshmallows cool before cutting into them— or you may end up with more dense marshmallows.