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Exclusive Q&A with The Marshmallowist – Oonagh Simms

by Lottie Huckle

published on 5 July 2016

the marshmallowist | cookbook

Tell us a bit more about your book, The Marshmallowist.

The book is split into seasonal as well as thematic recipes – my signature marshmallow recipe alongside recipes inspired by my training in Paris – patisserie using Japanese inspired flavours such as matcha green tea éclairs and a yuzu cheesecake. There are mallow inspired treats to bring to parties and picnics such as ‘Mookies’ (gooey marshmallow cookies) then feasting desserts and after dinner tartes for decadent gorging. A few stories of setting up a market stall on the Portobello road and falling off scooters in the Marais and it’s packed with beautiful pictures by Helen Cathcart – we got a chance to be playful, wild and colourful with the food and props. It’s a fun book that, hopefully, changes the way you think about marshmallows.

Why marshmallows?

I found that they give me the perfect opportunity to play with flavours. My marshmallows are made from whole fruits, organic herbs and spices and often spiked with alcohol or studded with fresh edible flowers. They are incredibly light and delicate – like a soufflé. This means I can have a lot of fun with flavours. The marshmallow lends itself to playing around with more aromatic flavours – because they are fat free and incredibly moist you can taste notes of flavours in the same way that you can in a wine, whiskey or gin. I make my marshmallows large – there are 4-5 bites in each one – so different flavours develop as you eat.

From the book

If you had to choose one recipe to show off what the book is about, what would it be and why?

My favourite recipe and the one I make most often is the sticky toffee pudding with marshmallow custard. It’s brimming with sticky dates and crunchy walnuts and smothered with a light marshmallow sauce that really lifts rather than drowns the flavours. It’s comforting and perfect for a crowd.

Here at The Happy Foodie, we’re totally obsessed with cookbooks. Can you tell us a bit about the favourites in your collection?

So many! My favourite for reading – I mean ACTUAL reading – is Brooks Headley’s Fancy Desserts. It’s funny, honest, is packed with amusing anecdotes and adventures and is quite sweary!

For application, Pierre Hermé’s Macarons. He is the BOSS of French patisserie. No one is better and this book is technically perfect. I have never found a better macaron recipe and his use of flavours is superb.

For everyday cooking and inspiration – the Ducksoup Cookbook. I was given a copy a few months ago and look at it most days. From what shall I eat when I get back to planning a large sharing feast for a birthday party this book is stunningly designed, thoughtfully put together and my new favourite.

Is there an ingredient you’re really enjoying baking with at the moment?

Alcohol! I’m working on a lot of confectionary and cocktail pairings at the moment and I love exploring the subtle difference between tequilas or gins and recreating those in marshmallows.

What’s your comfort food?

My favourite comfort food is a cheeky little ‘Elvis sandwich’ that I have included in the book. It’s brioche toast, crispy bacon, gooey schmoosed banana, maple syrup and a whip of vanilla marshmallow. It’s a one off and only when you require some real comforting, but it is DELICIOUS and always does the job.

Let’s play foodie Cluedo. You can cook one dish, for one person, in one location. Who, what and where?

I love hanging out with my sister and we work together, and worked on the book together, I would make us a fish soup/ bouillabaisse, accompanied by rosé wine and ideally we would be on a very sunny beach in the south of France.

Besides marshmallows, do you have an all-time favourite sweet treat?

I love chocolate. I trained as a chocolatier and I love carré, tiny squares of single origin chocolate. I fell in love with the haute chocolaterie of Pierre Marcolini when I was in Paris and they will always be my favourite sweet treat.

Find out more about Oonagh’s book, The Marshmallowist, here. 


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