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{This is a gifted post}

When Mallow & Marsh got in touch with me to create a recipe using their new Vanilla Whip, available in Sainsbury’s from Sunday 9 February, I couldn’t say no. You see, I’m a little bit of a marshmallow fiend. I’ll buy a pack of marshmallows to toast over the gas ring of my cooker at home, or to sandwich between Honey Maid crackers with a square of chocolate squished in there, or top my hot chocolate with a few and watch them melt away. Whip however is far more versatile…

Ingredients

I signed up to the Hackney half marathon this week. I knew that I wanted to do one before my 30th birthday, but there was a small part of me that was scared. I’ve run a half marathon before, two years ago in Paris, and ran it in 02:01:37 – unfortunately not quite making my sub-two hour goal I’d set myself. It was a comfortable pace but honestly, I was just pleased I’d got around and completed it – especially since it was my first half. Why is it then that I was scared about entering Hackney, and running the same distance again? There’s always an intrinsic desire to better myself and push myself that little bit harder. Internally, I’d set myself a challenge to run this race in under two hours and claim a PB. My mind however, had gone into overdrive challenging my belief and asking “but what if you don’t?”. The thought of “failure” scared me. Sometimes we just need to let go and give from the heart rather than set expectations for ourselves. You usually find that you get more back than you thought you ever would when you let go of your ideals and just “be” and accept and trust the process. 

Since signing up, my colleagues and I have discussed the rise of people tracking their runs with watches and phones, tracking every movement, mile, heartbeat and calorie burnt. I myself am one of those people and I enjoy analysing the statistics and finding out where my quickest split was, or where my body had reached peak heart rate. There’s a way of distracting yourself with music or a podcast too. But what is it to just run? I can’t tell you – not yet anyway. I have a love / hate relationship with running, and so when it feels horrible and my legs are heavy and they’re screaming for me to stop, there are at least other things to focus on. I use music as a way to take my mind off that pain, or conjugate French verbs in my head “Je vais, tu vas, il va, elle va, on va, nous allons, vous allez” before moving onto ‘faire’ or ‘être’ just to keep my mind on anything but the desire to stop. Other days, it’s as if my feet have springs in them and my lungs are taking in the purest air and nothing can stop me. You zone out, and don’t actually feel like you’re running anymore.

Whippernutter cookies

This is how I feel about baking too. It’s challenging when you’re creating a new recipe and aren’t quite sure how it’s going to turn out. I pray that the quantities are correct, and try not to peek in the oven too soon or it might deflate my bake. However, and unlike running (for the time being anyway), I feel entirely relaxed and humbled enjoying what I’m doing and experimenting WITHOUT a fear of failure. I see baking as an experimentation to create something extraordinary and try something new. There’s a process of trusting yourself which eliminates that underlying nag of fear that sits with failure. You have to own your power and lap up the deliciousness of a self-confidence that has developed from doing something you feel uncomfortable with. My spin instructor always says “get yourself comfortable with the uncomfortable” and from there you see growth and expansion, and you start to realise the boundaries you can push to.

These whippernutter cookies were an experiment. I only had two jars of marshmallow whip to “perfect” them and so getting the recipe right the first time was key. I wholeheartedly love marshmallow, but I also am so obsessed with Pip & Nut peanut butter that there was no question in my mind that this cookie wouldn’t contain both. The pools of mallows running through the tops of these cookies are so dreamy and my boyfriend has been saying how much he’s loved them this week, after I’ve been slipping them into his rucksack for lunch. They’re super simple to bake, just make sure you leave enough space for them to spread because they end up being the size of your face.

Whippernutter cookies

215g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
99g granulated sugar + 198g for rolling
99g firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (about 115g) creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 jar Mallow & Marsh vanilla whip

1. Preheat an oven to 350F/180C. Prepare four baking sheets and line them with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Set aside.
3. Using an electric whisk, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, then add in 99g of the granulated sugar. Whisk again before adding in the brown sugar and beating until light and fluffy. This usually takes 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until fully combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
4. Reduce the speed to low, then add the flour mixture in thirds, beating after each addition. Remember to keep scraping down the sides of your bowl with a spatula so everything is perfectly combined.
5. Once you have your base dough, scoop tablespoons of marshmallow whip onto your dough. As you go, swirl the fluff in, but don’t mix – you want to have pools of mallow sitting on top of your cookies when they cook in the oven, and over-mixing won’t create this.
6. Using a cookie dropper, or weighing scales, scoop the dough into balls. They should weigh 85g each. Place your cookies on your prepared baking sheets, spacing them at least an inch or two apart so they have space to expand.
7. Put 1 of the baking sheets in the oven and bake the cookies, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cookies have spread, are very light golden brown and the edges are set. This takes about 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. You still want the centres to be just slightly squidgy. 
8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely on the pan. Repeat and cook the remaining cookies.

Adapted from Sarah Kieffer’s book The Vanilla Bean Blog

February 17, 2020

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