Pineapple Marshmallows (1911) ★

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers!
You know, just a few days ago I realized that Thanksgiving here in Canada was only established as a national holiday in 1957! Of course it was celebrated much earlier, but not always on the same date or for even the same reason. I spent a lot of my childhood in the United States, so I still have this notion of Thanksgiving relating to pilgrims and such.
This recipe is from a 1911 cookbook printed in Chicago. Apparently this treat is a "good confection for Thanksgiving." Personally, I've never had marshmallows on Thanksgiving, let alone pineapple ones. Pineapple also seems like such a summer fruit to me, so it seems odd to have it in the mid-fall.
I looked EVERYWHERE for the gum arabic called for in this recipe, but I just couldn't find any. I did find some online, but I can't justify spending $8 plus shipping just to make some marshmallows. I decided to substitute xanthan gum, which is a similar product.

Original Recipe:

The Verdict:
Well first off, this recipe was a mess - literally. I wonder what the weight of xanthan gum is in comparison to gum arabic (or the absorbability) because 4 ounces was like a cup of xanthan gum and the 1 cup of juice just made it into a lumpy mess. I had to add about THREE cups of juice just to make it workable, since it's supposed to be heated. So I tried to use my hand mixer on it to smooth out the lumps, but it just made a huge single lump that clogged up my beaters. I couldn't see how else to mix in the egg whites except to use my hands, so I dumped the goop and the egg whites into a big bowl and mashed them all around. There were still big chunks of gum, though, which wouldn't blend in. I don't know if my food processor would've done any better? The stuff was sooo sticky.
When it had been in the fridge for over 12 hours, I took it out. It was really wet, but managed to hold its shape...until I tried to cut it into squares. Then I could see that it just wasn't working. The whole thing was a messy failure.
I tasted a bit, and it was okay. A little bit weird, but I did get a slight sense of marshmallow. I wouldn't eat it voluntarily, though. Mr. Man thought it looked like something from the insides of an animal and refused to go near it. Looking at it, it seems like the lumpy bits of xanthan gum were actually quite solid, but the rest of it was just unmixed egg whites. I think I would try this again with gum arabic and a food processor to make sure everything was well blended. The recipe does have promise, but it sure didn't work out this time.

Modernized Recipe:
(Adapted from Good Things to Eat, As Suggested By Rufus)

4 ounces GUM ARABIC
CORNSTARCH, for dusting
POWDERED SUGAR, for dusting

1. Dust a square pan with cornstarch. Whip the egg whites with the vanilla until stiff.
2. In a medium saucepan, add the pineapple juice. Slowly stir in the gum arabic until well combined. Let stand until dissolved.
3. Add the powdered sugar to the saucepan and heat over low heat (or use a double boiler). Stir until white and thickened and a drop of the mixture forms a ball in cold water.
4. Whip in the stiff egg whites and turn out the dough into the prepared pan. Smooth out and let sit in the fridge for 12 hours. When firm, invert onto a cutting board dusted with powdered sugar and cornstarch and cut into squares. Roll in powdered sugar and cornstarch to prevent sticking.

Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.


  1. OMG ... I agree with you, what a mess :-)

  2. That sure does look like a mess! Hope you managed to clean it up ok