These humble treats are evocative of my childhood. While they are fairly common in Canada, I have never seen them here in the United States. In fact, I couldn't even find multicolored mini marshmallows in Manhattan so I bought a couple of bags on my last trip home.
The modern marshmallow was invented in France in the mid-19th century by whipping together egg whites, sugar, and root sap from the Marshmallow plant (Althaea officinalis). This flowering, perennial herb was originally native to salty marshes in Europe, North Africa and Asia and was valued by the ancient Syrians, Chinese, Arabs and Romans for its medicinal properties. The Egyptians mixed Marshmallow root sap with honey and nuts to produce a treat thought to have been served exclusively to the Pharaoh.
The original process to make marshmallows was labor-intensive and expensive – limiting the market for the confections to the French elite. After technological advances, especially an extrusion process patented by American Alex Doumakes, mass production of marshmallows became possible. Over the years, the recipe has changed dramatically: root sap has been replaced with gelatin; egg whites are obsolete; and various forms of sugar, coloring and flavor have been added.
Confetti marshmallow squares are easy to make and ideal for the young, beginner or untalented cook. They are similar to an American confection called 'church windows' which also contains marshmallows and peanut butter as well as chocolate chips, coconut and nuts.
Makes 25 squares
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup butterscotch chips
8 oz multicolored mini marshmallows
1. In a medium pot over lowest heat, melt butter and peanut butter. Add butterscotch chips and stir constantly until melted and smooth. The chips may take a while to fully melt but do not increase heat. Alternately, this can be done in a microwave.
2. Once melted, remove the pot from the heat. While cooling, butter a 9 x 9 inch baking pan. Line with wax paper and butter again.
3. Once the pot has cooled enough that you can comfortably touch the bottom, mix in the marshmallows until well coated with sauce. Marshmallows may melt if added to sauce that has not sufficiently cooled.
4. Spread mixture in the baking pan and use the back of a spoon to even out the surface. Place in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Using a sharp knife cut into 25 squares. Store in an airtight container for 2 weeks in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer; separate layers with wax paper to prevent sticking.