Marshmallow sweetie pies are an iconic South African sweet treat and the stuff that confectionary dreams are made of. Snappy chocolate domes smother pillowy marshmallow nestled on a biscuit base, they conjure up so many childhood memories. I was devastated when Cadburys decided to discontinue this a few years ago (along with the Caramello Bear), but was pleased when Beyers decided to take over the manufacturing. Woollies also stock a similar Cutie Pie, so all is ok in the world. When I stumbled across this recipe for sweetie pies in Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s first volume of his beautiful ‘Jan the Journal’, I knew I wanted to make them. His version is oh so cheffy with a dash of caramel sauce, toasted hazelnut and chocolate popping candy.
Jan the Journal – both volume 1 & 2 are exquisite and unique print publications that are sure to inspire. Its part food magazine and part cookbook featuring loads of recipes, beautiful photography and all the Jan style and panache you would expect. He takes a close look into where our food comes from and the inspiration behind some of his dishes at his restaurant in Nice – which has a Michelin Star. At the root of it all, Jan is proudly South African and the country appears to be his muse. The Journals are peppered with South African flavours in the recipes he makes, the people who are featured and the influence the country has on himself as a chef and a person. In Volume 1 Jan he also delves into Apricale – the small Italian hilltop town in the Ligurian Alps where he has a home, and in Volume 2 he takes you on a insiders tour into Nice, the city where he lives a lot of the time and where has his restaurant.
Going back to the sweetie pie recipe, I was most excited about the popping candy because I so happened to have a tub (readily for sale at Woolworths). I decided to keep it simpler and omit the caramel and toasted hazelnut, but as I got to the assembly stage, I sadly discovered my tub of popping candy had expired a few months earlier and was no longer popping. Next time I make these and believe me there will be a next time I’m going all in with the other elements.
I halved the biscuit recipe because the quantities seemed way too large for the amount of marshmallow. You will still make a few extra biscuits but it’s the most delicious tasting shortbread, so you will be very happy about this.
Notes – During the coating stage, a lot of chocolate will get caught under the wire rack that the sweetie pies are on so make sure its lined with baking paper. You can simply pop that into the freezer until it goes solid and then snap these pieces off to use for other things or just to snack on. I used both dark and milk chocolate because I love the sweeter milk chocolate for a sweetie pie, but a good 70% couverture makes the confection so much more grown up
Recipe – adapted from Jan The Journal Volume 1
For the biscuit base
- 250g butter
- 75gm icing sugar
- 325gm flour
- 40gm corn flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the marshmallow
- 80gms egg white
- 160gms sugar
- 2 gelatin leaves
- 50gm liquid glucose
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
You also need:
- 300-400 gm dark or milk chocolate (your choice)
- 50gms popping candy – optional
- Caramel on the base of the biscuit and toasted hazelnuts
For the biscuit, using an electric mixer, cream the butter, vanilla and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flours to the bowl and mix very briefly until just combined. Roll the dough out between two large sheets of non-stick baking paper to about 3 – 4mm and then freeze until solid. Preheat the oven to 180C and cut out cookie rounds using a 3 – 4cm cookie cutter. Bake for 10 – 13 minutes until a light golden brown. Allow to cool.
For the marshmallow, bloom the gelatin leaves in a bowl of room temperature water. Place the egg whites into the very clean bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add the glucose and sugar to a small pot (with a handle) and add 2 tablespoons of water. Cook the syrup over low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup reaches 116C on a sugar thermometer. When the sugar is about 110c, start whisking the egg whites to soft peak stage. When the sugar has reached 116C, squeeze out the bloomed gelatin and quickly stir this through the syrup. Very slowly pour this hot syrup down the bowl of the stand mixer while it is still running on high. Whip the marshmallow for about 5 – 6 minutes until it has cooled. Add the vanilla extract – whip again and then scoop this into a piping bag. If it is still runny, you can cool it in the fridge a little to firm up. The marshmallow must hold a peak before you start piping.
To assemble, place the biscuits on a grid over a lined baking tray, which will catch any excess chocolate (see note above). Pipe the marshmallow to the edge of the biscuit or slightly over. If you are using popping candy, sprinkle a little on the top of the marshmallow now. Melt the chocolate and allow it to cool then coat the marshmallows by ladling over the top and sides. Allow the chocolate to harden at room temperature or you can speed it up by cooling them down in the fridge.
*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of Jan the Journal vol 2 but I purchased vol 1
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