Making your own marshmallows is one of those show-offy, culinary stunts that you should consider doing ... just because you CAN. And because homemade marshmallows taste way better -- fluffier, airier, less gummy -- than the packaged kind. And because you can dazzle everyone you know by presenting them with their French name, "guimauve" (ghee-MOHV).
Gesine Bullock-Prado, the smart and spunky author of "Sugar Baby" (2011 Stewart, Tabori & Chang), prefers to eat her "guimauve" straight: "No roasting, no melting, no chocolate dipping." She also prefers piping them into a kind of fluffy rosette that is unrecognizable to those of us raised with the cylindrical confections found in pillowy plastic bags in the supermarket. And she prefers a renegade recipe that includes egg whites, which she says enhances flavor. If egg whites make you squeamish, leave them out.
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Bullock-Prado also includes directions (too long for this space) to flavor the marshmallows with chocolate, espresso, peanut butter, raspberry and maple. These confections, she says, "won't harsh your mellow."
Marshmallows are only one of many sweet treats in Bullock-Prado's book, which she describes not as a baking book, and not as a candy book, but as a book about "cooking sugar." It includes some baked goods (tortes, cakes, pies, her signature French macaroons), some candies (caramels, taffy, brittles, lollipops) and some confections that can only be classified as "other." Cotton candy, for example. And flavored syrups. And "guimauve."
Note: if you combine a toasted "guimauve" with chocolate and graham crackers, you have a "smor-ay." That's French for s'more.
• Marialisa Calta is the author of "Barbarians at the Plate: Taming and Feeding the American Family" (Perigee, 2005). More at marialisacalta.com.