Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Revolutionary Candy.

I remember once trying to sneak some vegetables into my little daughter by making a zucchini cake. It never got past her 4 year-old eagle eyes: she somehow knew the green bits weren’t choc chips. Thankfully, she grew up and converted and now eats all her greens with relish, so perhaps there was something subliminal in the attempt. There was a little book that might have inspired me, written in 1912, had I known about it and been able to find a copy all the way over here in Australia. It is Candy-making revolutionized; confectionery from vegetables, written in 1912 by Mary Elizabeth Hall.

Ms. Hall waxes so enthusiastically lyrical about her idea one could almost be convinced that it should be a force-fed health food.

“Vegetable candy, to my mind, is ideal confectionery. Of its purity, there can be no doubt. Moreover, it furnishes the valuable element of sugar so combined with nutritious vegetable bases that, because of the bulk, there is no temptation to overeat. This quality of the new confection would seem insurance against the evil effects of gluttony! Before an undue amount of sugar is consumed, the very mass of the vegetable base has satisfied the appetite.
…. for the more vegetable candy is made, the less unhealthful confectionery there will be consumed. For the same reason, I hope, too, that women and girls seeking to make profitable their idle hours at home, may embark in a small way in the manufacture and sale of vegetable candy.”

An ideal food for children, and a pin-money bonus to boot! The colour plate of samples at the front of the book looks tempting – they look like ‘real’ candy. The expected suspects are here – lots made with potatoes (plain starch, really) and beets (sweet starch with bonus colouring), and a few with dates, which at about 60% sugar are a candy in their own right, and anyway don’t count as vegetables. The idea of Tomato Marshmallow however is a bit of a shock to the culinary-idea part of the brain. Or maybe not. Maybe it would fit on some trendy restaurant tables after all?

Tomato Marshmallow.
Very often marshmallows even the sort sold in candy stores of the better class contain gums and glucose which the amateur would find difficult to handle even if she felt no scruple in their use. Tomato marshmallows, however, are pleasing in consistency and more attractive in flavor than the old-fashioned kind. Moreover, they are easy to make, although it is necessary to give more detailed directions than would be required in the description of the process with which the home candy-maker is more familiar.
Dissolve three tablespoonsful of granulated gelatine in one cupful of hot water.
Cook and strain ripe tomatoes; to one-half cupful of the strained tomato add one cup-ful of sugar and cook the mixture to two hundred and thirty degrees. Have ready in a deep saucepan, three cupsful of sugar, moistened with one-quarter of a cupful of water. Upon it strain the tomato syrup, stir well, thin with a cupful of water, and cook to two hundred and forty degrees. Set the mass off the fire, add the gelatine water previously prepared, mix thoroughly and strain into a fresh bowl. Have ready the whites of two eggs beaten to a stiff froth. With a French egg whip or a common wooden paddle, beat the cooked mass hard until it is white and does not separate. When it becomes foamy and spongy, gradually add the beaten egg whites and keep beating until the whole mass is very stringy and will almost set on the paddle. Sift upon the mass one tablespoonful of corn starch; stir well.
Pour the candy between candy bars on a marble well dusted with XXXX sugar. Leave ten or twelve hours, cut into squares, roll well in XXXX sugar, spread the other side up and dry off. Instead of pouring the marshmallows between candy bars, they may be molded in corn starch. Store in a tight box.
The receipt sounds more laborious than is the process. The repeated boilings are necessary to perfect the product. The acid of the tomato destroys the granularity of the sugar. Straining the mixture eliminates the particles of tomato which, not having blended thoroughly into the syrup, would cause trouble by sticking to the bottom of the saucepan in the later higher cooking.

The XXXX is a bit alarming to a Queenslander. The local beer is called XXXX. I assume that ‘Over There’ it is a brand of sugar.

Quotation for the Day …

Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal, since it will be the last thing your guests remember before they pass out all over the table. The Anarchist Cookbook.


Unknown said...

Dear god, this is the most awful recipe I have seen since yesterday when I came across one for a pizza topped with tomato sauce, fresh figs, Parma ham and foie gras.


Liz + Louka said...

Half a cup of tomato to three cups of sugar? How is that mass of tomato going to stop anyone eating an undue amount of sugar?

Barbara said...

Just this morning I was reading a recipe from Morocco for candied eggplant.

srhcb said...

XXXX sugar is a fine grade of sugar used by commercial bakers. Superfine confectioners sugar, for comparison, is 10X.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

This is exactly the sort of thing they are serving at the restaurants that specialize in molecular gastronomy - I could easily see Tomato Marshmallow on the menu at WD-50 in Manhattan. Everything old is new again ...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the xxxx sugar refers to super fine/powdered