It's not Valentine's Day, nor is there a wedding anniversary any time soon. We have been going about life, heads down, hard at it, bake after bake. And that is when hearts and sweetness are most welcome, in my book. I have been holding my little family close this week. A little tighter. A little more aware of how very lucky I am. I have been, for lack of a better way of saying it, more present.
I made these marshmallow hearts for my mum a while ago. They're sweet and a bit sassy, just like her. In just over a month, we'll be flying to beautiful Broome to celebrate her birthday. For most of the year it has seemed like a far-off hazy something-to-look-forward-to. But now it's nearly here. Our calendar is stacked almost every week until we go, and I'm going to be more swamped with work than ever, but it's nearly here!
A week in paradise with the people I love most in the world - I am beyond excited. It's these times, when we get to laugh together and let our hair down, the sharing of old stories and the making of new ones. This is what it's all about. It's how I can counter the fear of this random world and the fragile balance that holds everything dear to all of us in place.
Vanilla, Raspberry and Rose Marshmallow Hearts
(Makes 16-20 depending on size of heart cutter)
250g caster sugar
2 teaspoons liquid glucose
6 titanium strength gelatine leaves
2 egg whites
Scraped seeds of one vanilla bean
Two tablespoons freeze dried raspberries*
Two tablespoons dried edible rose petals*
Icing sugar and cornflour for dusting
Line the base and sides of a rectangular baking tray with non-stick baking paper, making sure it overhangs the edges.
Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for five minutes. Squeeze the water from the sheets and melt in a bowl over simmering water.
Place egg whites in bowl of an electric mixer.
Place 175g of the caster sugar, liquid glucose and 100ml water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for three minutes.
Start whisking egg whites on high until they reach a soft peak, then turn the mixer to a lower speed and gradually add the rest of the caster sugar.
Continue simmering the glucose syrup for a further five minutes or until it reaches 127C on a sugar thermometer. Add the melted gelatine and the vanilla to the glucose syrup, then, with the mixer still on a low speed, pour the mixture carefully into the egg whites.
Turn the mixer up to high speed and whisk for 10 minutes or until the mixture is cooled and thick and glossy.
Combine equal parts icing sugar and cornflour in a small bowl. Dust the inside of your prepared tin with the mixture and reserve the rest.
Spread half the marshmallow into tin and scatter with freeze dried raspberries and rose petals, then cover with remaining marshmallow. Smooth top with a pallet knife and place in fridge to set for at least two hours.
Lift the marshmallow from the tin by the overhanging baking paper and place on a board or flat surface dusted with the icing sugar mixture.
Dip heart shaped cookie cutter into the icing sugar mixture before cutting hearts from the marshmallow. Dust marshmallows in the sugar mixture before serving. If you don't have a heart shaped cutter, simply cut the marshmallow into squares using a hot, sharp knife.
If doing a chocolate version, skip the dusting step and dip your hearts into your favourite quality melted chocolate (about 200g should do it) and leave them to set on sheets of non-stick baking paper.
* Freeze dried raspberries and dried edible rose petals are available from The Essential Ingredient and other specialist delis and food stores.