The Marshmallowist: creating the perfect sweet treat with a playful edge

Oonagh Simms is The Marshmallowist. Returning from Paris to London with finely tuned sweet-making skills, this creative foodie and entrepreneur is bringing the humble marshmallow back in a big and innovative way. In time for the release of her new cookbook, we asked Oonagh all about her delicious endeavours:

In Paris you did some serious training to become a pâtissière & chocolatier…is that where your love of all things marshmallow began?

That’s where my love for unique and special confectionery came from: the beautiful boutiques dedicated to macaron or choux bun. There is such a celebration of skill and quality of ingredients used in sweet treats in Paris that is quite thrilling. Parisians will cross the city for their favourite treat or for a particular bread shop or market. It is that infectious desire to create something that was the best it could be, which celebrated flavour and provenance of ingredients, that ended with marshmallows. I was able to create what I thought was the perfect sweet treat with an adventurous and playful edge.

Oonagh, The marshmallowist

What is it about marshmallows that excited you so much you decided to dedicate your life’s work to them?

My marshmallows are made from whole fruits, organic herbs and spices and are 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 really taste notes of flavours in the same way that you can in a wine, whiskey or gin. Despite the sugar content, and there is a high sugar content, these marshmallows never taste overpoweringly saccharine because I use the whole fruits, not juices, powders or extracts. This naturally softens the sweetness. I deliberately make my marshmallows large. There are 4-5 bites in each one, so different flavours develop as you eat.

We love your creative flavour combinations; do you have a favourite of the bunch? And what’s been the crowd favourite?

Passionfruit and Ginger is by far my favourite but I am quite fickle; every time I whip up something new, I tend to fall in love with it. Over the past year I have been experimenting with raw cacao nibs and fruit; bringing a smoky, earthiness to the marshmallow. I adore how that tastes and the texture of the cacao.

How do you create your marshmallows’ vibrant colours without adding any artificial colourings?

It’s just a rich fruit puree. I won’t ever use ‘natural colourings’ or freeze-dried powders. They taste awful and there is no need for them. I love the bright pop of colour that is achieved from a rich puree-like a jam. I don’t value colour over the taste or the quality.

Oonagh, The marshmallowist

What can we expect to find in your new cookbook?

My signature marshmallow recipe alongside recipes inspired by my training and time in Paris, mallow-inspired treats to bring to parties and picnics or feasting desserts, after-dinner tarts for wowing a date, and tales of setting up a market stall on Portobello Road and falling off scooters in the Marais.

What do you think makes a perfect marshmallow?

A bit of adventure and the willingness to experiment with flavours (even if they occasionally go wrong).

Are you dreaming up any exciting new flavour combinations?

Always! I couldn’t go into the kitchen each morning if it wasn’t driven by a desire to create new flavours. I’m so lucky that I’m often called by restaurants and bars wanting to match a marshmallow to their new cocktail menu or a company wanting a bespoke flavour to match their new branding or a wedding favour that reminds the couple of their first date. It’s also really important that I give myself time to play and test and experiment with new flavours in the kitchen. Sometimes the admin of running a business can take over, so it is important to give yourself time for creativity.

 

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WRITTEN BY:
Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Want to see more?

Follow Oonagh on Instagram, and visit The Marshmallowist website to purchase her delicious sweets. You can also try out her recipe for ‘Mookies’ here.

Photos by

Helen Cathcart