fun with marshmallow

chocolate & pistachio fudge 

I must admit, I am a little surprised to be finding myself writing about marshmallow this week. I mean it’s not something I tend to think about all that often, if ever. That is unless I happen to find myself in front of an open fire with a long stick and a craving for something toasty warm and sickly sweet with the added bonus of satisfying my pyromaniac tendencies. But even then I’d be far more likely to go for a glass of Muscat or port than charred molten confectionery.

Yet over the last month I’ve had not one but two close encounters with marshmallow in different forms. The first was on a recent trip to the beautiful islands of Fiji for my little sister, Sas’ wedding. And while the ceremony was lovely and the bride looked just stunning and I did have the joy of escorting my 69 year old Dad on his first trip out of the country, if the truth be told I think the most memorable thing about Fiji was a pizza.

I know it may sound odd to have pizza as a highlight from a trip to a tropical island, but this was no ordinary pizza. No dear readers this was ham and pineapple and MARSHMALLOW. And not just innocent white ones, no on top of the pizza, clashing with the red tomato sauce and abundance of bright yellow ‘cheese’ were pink pink marshmallows, slightly browned after a stint in the wood fired oven but still unmistakably pretty in a very wrong way.

Fortunately I didn’t have the dubious pleasure of actually eating said pizza. My sister’s recently acquired mother-in-law and her fake nails were the ‘lucky’ recipients of the marshmallow pizza. And all I can do is assume that it tasted a hell of a lot better than it looked, judging by the way it was polished off. The mind boggles really.

My second marshmallow affair happened over the weekend. I had decided to try my hand at some chocolate and pistachio fudge as an easy dessert to follow an Autumunal dinner of roast pork belly with roast apples and fennel. I hadn’t thought that much about the need for marshmallows until I was in the supermarket and faced with only packets containing a mix of both pink and white. I was immediately transported back to Fiji, but decided to press on and buy the biggest bag I could figuring I could pick out and use the white ones and that I’d find another use for the remaining pinks.

Of course when one of your guests is an adorable 2½ year old gal with flower decorated doc martins, the pink marshmallow dilemma becomes a no brainer. With the assurance of having many ‘just one more marshmallow’ moments over the course of the evening between episodes of the smurfs it was reassuring to see the humble marshmallow being enjoyed as a treat. But give me a super dense and chocolately fudge with a few pistachios for colour and crunch and a lovely light moist texture thanks in part to a few melted marshmallows and trust me you’ll have happy guests of all ages….all good things.
chocolate & pistachio fudge
serves heaps

Adapted from a recipe by Ben Shewry of Attica restaurant published in the April 2007 Australian Gourmet Traveller.

This is one of those great desserts when you feel like serving something drop dead rich but want to keep it simple and not overwhelm your guests if they don’t happen to be choc-aholics.

Before reading about it in Gourmet Traveller, I hadn’t heard of Ben Shewry or his Melboure restaurant but after trying his fudge recipe, it’s definitely high up on my list of must visit restaurants in the south.

400g good quality chocolate (I used Lindt 70% cocoa solids)
200g butter
300g sugar
45g cocoa powder
185mL evaporated milk
100g white marshmallows
100g shelled pistachios, lightly roasted

Grease and line the base of a 11cm x 30cm loaf pan. Whizz chocolate in a food processor until finely ground. Place butter in a medium saucepan and allow to melt. Stir in sugar, cocoa powder, milk and marshmallows and cook over a low to medium heat until marshmallows are melted. Remove from the heat and stir though chocolate until melted and smooth.

Place about half the mix in the base of your prepared tin and sprinkle with pistachios. Top with remaining fudge mix and smooth the surface. Allow to cool to room temp then refrigerate for a couple of hours until set.

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