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How Did Marshmallows Get Their Name?

Eli Kirshtein explains the squishy treats' origin, and Francois Payard's history.

By Eli Kirshtein

François Payard is one of the most venerable personas in the world of pastry. Having been born in Nice in 1966 he was born in one of the hot beds of refined pastry that must have had a tremendous influence on him early on. He worked in several Michelin three-star kitchens in Europe before moving to New York City. He spent some time at Le Bernardin before moving to Restaurant Daniel. Here is where you really came into him own and began to develop a refined and creative style that is his hallmark. In 1995 he won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef marking his impact in the American culinary world. This is all where our head judge Johnny Iuzzini began his professional relationship with him.  e then went on to own several pastry shops from New York, to Japan, Brazil, and Las Vegas. To this day, his desserts are worth a trek if you find yourself able to get to them!

Pâtes de Fruits are the original gummy bears. They are basically small fruit flavored jellies. They can either be made by taking fruit and cooking it down to a concentrated point and the natural pectic thickens them or taking a pre-made fruit juice or concentrate and thickening it with commercial pectin. They are then cut into cubes and rolled in a mix of citric acid and sugar. They are usually served as petits fours but sometime you see them as a component of a dessert. They always have a very acidic and intense flavor which helps clear your palate and refresh.

Marshmallows have a much more storied past than you may think. The name derives from a plant dates all the way back to Egyptian antiquity. The Althaea Officinalis grows in marshes and is a member of the mallow family, hense the name Marsh Mallow. The sticky thick extract that is inside the plant has long been used for medicinal purposes to help with sore throats. It also has been used for candy purposes since ancient Egypt where it was mixed with nuts and honey to produce a confection. In the 19th century French candymakers would take the sap and whip it up with sugar, almost meringue like, to make a candy. It was found that the process of getting the sap became very labor intensive and difficult so the recipe evolved to exclude it. The French started to make a basic sweetened meringue with egg whites and set it with gelatin calling it pâte de guimauve. This was the start of the modern Marshmallow. The final step to the sweet as we know it today, was created by Alex Doumak in 1948. He created a technique where the paste was extruded through a tube and then sliced into cylinders giving them there characteristic shape.When it gets down to it, praline is caramelized sugar and nuts. The house chef of 17th century French entrepreneur Marshal du Plessis-Praslin at the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte created the original version. He took individual almonds and coating them in caramelized sugar. Later they started to use this technique with hazelnuts as well. They also may be ground up into a powder or paste that is known as Pralin which is used in cakes and pastries. When it is mixed with chocolate it is then known as praliné and is a common filling in truffles and as bon-bons. French settlers brought this dish to Louisiana, but with pecans being the most common nut, they changed a bit. There was also the evolution to add cream to make a more butterscotch like candy. This version of Praline still lives in the American South to this day.

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