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Fairy Finery: Elderflower Marshmallows

devon 14 Comments

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elderflower marshmallows

Fairy Finery: Elderflower Marshmallows

Devon 14 Comments

Elderflowers hold great cultural significance & medicinal value, while elderflower marshmallows are just the touch of divine & decadent whimsy we all need.

Oh, the glory of elderflower season is finally upon me! The frothy white blooms are bursting forth and glowing like tiny pearls in the sunlight…  As an herbalist and wildcrafter, I have no further to look than my own front yard for this fragrant treasure. Every year, I endeavor to invent new and delicious recipes for my modest and greatly restrained harvest of the blooms.  Months ago I decided that elderflower marshmallows would be the confectionery delight on the ticket.  And let me tell, you the elderflower marshmallows did not disappoint.  I mean, ELDERFLOWER MARSHMALLOWS people…  Also, this recipe really has no nutritional or medicinal value – but it is magic.

But first, elderflower folklore…

The sacred elder tree (Sambucus spp.) is steeped ancient European tradition and it is customary, as such, to ask permission to gather from her boughs.  Feminine in association, the elder is thought to represent a motherly, crone-like figure who presides over the great transitions of life, such as birth and death.  A botanical midwife, if you will. The elder was thought to ward off evil spirits and the act of cutting the elder wood is considered a grave misstep.  The elder fell upon sadder connotations with Christian tradition.  Some legends would have it that it was the wood from which the fateful crucifix was made, the tree from which Judas Iscariot hung, and was even maligned as the botanical incarnation of the Devil himself.  Verbal traditions being what they are, these legends are hard to pin down in origin. I suspect that these negative connotations are very regional.  I can certainly see how a botanical symbol associated with the transition into death in one culture could then be linked to darkest and most feared aspects of another.  All that said, my experience with elder errors more to the divine.  I cannot think of anything but glorious beauty when I stand in the midst of her boughs.

elderflower

A little bit of elderflower medicinal use…

Elderflowers are sublimely cooling.  As a relaxing diaphoretic, elderflower relieves the tension associated with internal heat.  Elderflower works by encouraging a gentle perspiration, reducing fever or simply dropping body heat from exertion or exposure to a comfortable level. Elderflower can be ideal for those experience redness and inflammation, rash-y and acne prone conditions.  Elderflower, used at the onset of a cold or flu, may support the immune system and shorten the duration of discomfort.  The flavor is faintly floral and earthy – and even my littlest one will sip on some elderflower and spearmint tea when a fever strikes (hers being hot, fast and short – usually with no lingering illness).

Elderflower Marshmallows

Now that we have touched on the history and medicinal use of elderflower, let’s get down to business…  We’re here for the elderflower marshmallows.  Pillow-y white clouds of pure floral sweetness.  These are just pure sin, wrapped in elderflower, and sprinkled with fairy dust.  Which is to say – they are stupid good.  Not the confection you roast and stuff between slabs of chocolate and graham cracker, these elderflower marshmallows are, well, sophisticated.  Perfect for a bridal or baby shower, an afternoon of bubbles and nibbles, or delivering to your lover for dessert.  These things are whimsically naughty and just plain wonderful.  In creating this recipe, I wanted to add elderflower at every opportunity, so you will find it in three forms: dried for the base “tea”, as a liqueur added in the last moments of preparation, and fresh mixed with powdered sugar for dusting the outsides.  The result is a marshmallow that exudes elderflower essence, without becoming oppressively floral.  Delicious and divine, fairy finery, elderflower marshmallows.

Make your own elderflower liqueur here (second recipe on post).

Interested in learning more about elderflower and 49 other common wild medicinal plants?  Check out my new book The Backyard Herbal Apothecary!

elderflower marshmallows detail

Elderflower Marshmallow Recipe

Elderflower Marshmallows

Surprisingly easy to make, elderflower marshmallows are sure to impress and leave people with the distinct impression that you have a magical touch

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dried elderflower
  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin about 3/4 ounce
  • 1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons elderflower liqueur see link to make your own or check your local liquor store
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 fresh elderflower umbels

Instructions

  • Prepare an elderflower "tea" by bringing one cup of water to a simmer, remove from heat, add dried elderflower and cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, place 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Gently rake your fingers through the elderflower umbels, knocking off the individual flowers into the powdered sugar. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  • When the elderflower "tea" is cool, strain and place 1/2 cup of the tea in the bowl of a stand mixer. Added the gelatin, mix and allow to "bloom". Fit mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup of elderflower tea to a medium saucepan with high sides. Add sugar and light corn syrup. Over medium high heat and stirring constantly, boil the sugar syrup until it reaches soft ball stage, 240 degrees (F) on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.
  • Immediately turn on the mixer to low speed and slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture. When done pouring, increase the speed to high.
  • Continue whisking until the mixture is white, very thick and increased in volume. Add elderflower liqueur and mix well to combine.
  • Prepare a non-metal 9x13 inch baking dish by lightly greasing the bottom and sides and then dusting the surface with a small amount of the powdered sugar/elderflower mixture to coat. Pour marshmallow mixture into prepared dish, smooth with a spatula, and dust the top with more powdered sugar/elderflower mixture.
  • Allow to dry in a dish for 12 hours or overnight. Using a knife dipped in hot water, cut through marshmallows to desired serving size. Toss individual marshmallows in remaining powdered sugar/elderflower mixture or more plain powdered sugar as necessary.

Elderflower Marshmallows

 References:

http://www.cauldronsandcrockpots.com/2011/05/wild-things-in-may-elder-flowers/

http://www.druidry.org/library/trees/tree-lore-elder

http://www.thegoddesstree.com/trees/Elder.htm

http://www.whitedragon.org.uk/articles/elder.htm

 

Devon

Devon is a writer and author on subjects of holistic and sustainable living. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and her first book, The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, will be published by Page Street Publishing in Spring 2019. Devon's work outside of NittyGrittyLife.com can be seen at LearningHerbs.com, GrowForageCookFerment.com, AttainableSustainable.net, and in the magazine The Backwoods Home. Devon's second book, as yet untitled will be published Fall 2019.

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14 Comments

  • Chris June 28, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Oh, my, this is actually a thing? What a genius you are. My elder flowers are just buds right now but I’m pinning thsi for later.

    Thanks you.

    When I make it I will substitute honey for the corn syrup.

    • Devon June 28, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Yes, elderflower marshmallows are actually a “thing” (especially in the UK), and thank goodness for that! Not a genius though — if you witnessed my daily bumblings you would mutter “poor, hapless thing” and pat me on the head sympathetically… 😉
      As for the honey/corn syrup switch up… I never use corn syrup for anything other than candy making. Corn syrup is used to prevent seed crystallization that may ruin the texture of the confection. Perhaps it is a marketing line fed to me by big Ag, but maybe it is also just true… In any case, by all means, use the honey and let me know about your experience!

  • Sarah Lake August 12, 2016 at 3:37 am

    This is great! I love the way my elderflowers smell. The type of elderberry bush that we have though, is different from the one you mentioned. I wonder if the flowers are still safe to eat? I found a lot of conflicting information last summer when I looked. Sambucus canadensis is the type. We picked it up last spring at the native plant sale. I would love to hear your input!

    • Sarah Lake August 12, 2016 at 3:38 am

      Meant for that to be five stars! Ugh! Can I change it? There! New post!

      • Devon August 12, 2016 at 3:51 am

        Hahaha! That star thing is kinda tricky! First time I checked how a post looked on my smartphone, I accidentally rated my recipe 1 star!

    • Devon August 12, 2016 at 3:58 am

      The blue/black Sambucus nigra spp. canadensis berries (and the flowers) are safe to eat. Avoid stems, leaves and bark as those contain constituents that can cause massive digestive upset. Likewise harvest and eat only ripe berries. Should you want to consume more than a handful of berries, they should be cooked to prevent upset stomach similar to eating too many cherries. Hope that helps. Thank you!!! 🙂

      • Sarah Lake August 24, 2016 at 1:37 pm

        Thank you! I’m linking to this on my blog! We harvested some of our elderberries yesterday. Sadly, we missed the flowers (but they smelled DIVINE!), so will make these babies next year!

        • Devon August 24, 2016 at 3:50 pm

          I love elderberry season! Mine are just starting to ripen!

  • Susan (Head Pixie!) June 25, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    The Head Pixie at Fairy Finery loves this recipe and thinks all fairies everywhere would love to make this! What a unique recipe.

    • Devon June 25, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Thank you! You have the sweetest website. My five year old walked into my office at the exact moment I pulled up your page — she is in LOVE!!!

      • Susan June 27, 2017 at 4:06 am

        Perhaps we can trade marshmallows for sparkles!!
        How fun would that be!
        We would love to see your wee one in Fairy Finery!
        We make everything ourselves in Fairyland.

  • Nickole December 3, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Hihi, how long would you say these mallows can be stored for? Next summer I want to harvest as have some elderflower liquor already made from this year. But was thinking would be nice to make and store them for the winter, possible?
    Awesome recipe!

    • Devon December 3, 2017 at 7:31 pm

      With a house full of kids and a husband with an ever-present sweet tooth, I have not the opportunity to personally test the shelf life of the marshmallows. 😉 Most candy does store well if kept perfectly dry. So, well coated in powdered sugar or cornstarch, and packed in an airtight container, I imagine that they would last for quite some time. However, the elderflower flavor might degrade somewhat.

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