Dominique and Me: Marshmallow Chicks

You know that moment when you are so shook up by something that you just forget what happiness feels like, that was me first realising I had to go to the effort of making these.

If I were speaking between friends or family at this time, I’d probably describe Dominique Ansel as ‘pastry Satan’ right now (obviously this is a public blog though, so forget I even said that ;)). It just seems a bit audacious to ask me to slice the top off of eggs, discard the actual egg and clean the inside of the shell, all without breaking the egg shell, WHAT?! I trust Ansel with my life however, like I’ve said previously; he’s a pastry wizard, so of course I started with the upmost optimism (I really lie, I was 100% prepared to lose the will to live).

Like I’ve mentioned previously, the recipe starts off with cleaning out the egg shells. Obviously, like Ansel instructs, I should’ve been using egg-scissors but I didn’t have any so improvised with a knife instead. This actually went surprisingly well! I managed to get fairly clean holes in the tops of my eggs, with only one of them breaking (I was over-the-moon). Something that really inhibits the overall look of this recipe is the colour of the egg shells. America bleach their shells causing them to have a white appearance which works perfectly for this recipe, however, in the UK our eggshells remain brown which instantly makes the product less attractive.

After removing the tops (sounds oddly like a post-apocalyptic gay fanfic), you have to submerge the shells in boiling water to kill off any bacteria. This all went smoothly until I noticed how much egg membrane was left inside the shell, which would’ve been disgusting had I left it (marshmallow and slimy egg white sounds like a great combo, no?). This lead me to spend HOURS (probably just one hour but we love a bit of drama) removing the white and deciding to do 6 eggs instead of the planned 12. This is when the recipe began spiralling downward.

Next came the caramel. The caramel here is a dry caramel which Ansel states ‘allows more control over the caramelisation’. The recipe includes a substance called fleur de sel, after hours of searching the internet, I STILL don’t fully understand what this is and needless to say I omitted it (sorry Dominique!). I have made marshmallow a few times however have always started with egg whites (like an Italian meringue), however, this recipe does not use egg whites at all. The marshmallow seemed simple, but this was (I imagine) my biggest mistake in the recipe. Ansel instructs to stop whisking as soon as the marshmallow is firm enough to hold a peak. In my mind, I was making an Italian meringue which keeps whisking until the bowl is cool, I should’ve stopped whipping this marshmallow LONG before that.

Lets just say that the marshmallow turned to glue. Not just any glue, but, I imagine you would be able to build a three-story house using this marshmallow in the place of cement. It was so strong that I could barely get it out of the bowl to transfer it to the piping bag. It was absolute torture. If I were in the Bake Off tent right now, this would’ve been the point when the camera zooms in on my red face wanting to give up, while Sandi awkwardly looks at me and Noel pats me on the back staring into the distance.

As if things couldn’t get worse, I had to assemble the damn things. Starting with a blob of marshmallow, switching to a blob of caramel and alternating back to the marshmallow sounds perfectly simple. That would be the case, but unfortunately my marshmallow was practically un-pipeable. Even after I managed to squeeze some out of the nozzle (my arms look far more like Timothee Chalamet’s compared to Dwayne Johnson’s, so it didn’t give me much to work with), the marshmallow was incredibly stringy resulting in ‘marshmallow cobwebs’ all around me and the kitchen.

The chicks are finished with yellow sanding sugar (I just coloured granulated sugar yellow) and two chocolate ‘eyes’. In the end, they looked far more like the Babadook (monster from a horror movie and incidentally a queer icon) instead of the chicks they were supposed to look like. The eyes looked like they were about to commit murder.

Overall, I hate to say it but; this was my first fail. My marshmallow chicks were incredibly unpleasant to eat. The marshmallow was so strong that it would break up the shell while trying to get it out, causing you to end up eating what felt like shards of glass. Had I done it right, I’m sure it would’ve been a fun bake (although, I’m not going to try it again anytime soon ;)).

NEXT UP: VANILLA ICE CREAM (surely this is gonna go smoothly and me and Ansel can return to our loving relationship like before).

Who enjoyed reading my first fail? (I didn’t ;)). Let me know below, I’m sure there will be many more in the not too distant future ;). I’d love to hear everything you liked/disliked in the comments below (I literally combust with joy every time someone comments), and any questions you may have about me/Ansel/the book/future posts/or literally ANYTHING ELSE.

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Kind Regards,

Woody ✨