The term marshmallow pie is generally used to refer to any type of pie that features marshmallows as a main ingredient. Marshmallows are sweet confections that easily adapt to dessert items. Pies made with this ingredient range from hot, sticky, gooey desserts to creamy cold treats. There are several types of marshmallows available and all can be successfully used to make pies.
Marshmallows are nothing more than a mix of sugar and corn syrup, another type of sweetener, thickened with gelatin. To accommodate for the large concentration of sweetness, bakers usually bake marshmallow pies with flavors that add some bitterness or contrast to the sweetness. A lemon or lime marshmallow pie made with fresh juice, for instance, adds some tartness that can offset the sugariness sometimes encountered when baking with marshmallows. Other popular additives include chocolate and peanut butter.
When marshmallows are used as part of a pie filling, they are usually melted on the stove, often with milk. Then the marshmallow mixture is allowed to cool before folding in whipping cream and other ingredients like chocolate chips, fresh fruit, and toffee. The entire mixture can be poured into a graham cracker or other type of pie crust then placed in the refrigerator to chill and set.
Sometimes, the term marshmallow pie will also be used when referring to a pie including a marshmallow-based topping. For instance, instead of covering the top of a fruit pie with a crust, the pie can be cooked without a top layer. When almost done, a layer of marshmallows can be used to cover the top then placed back in the oven to brown. As the marshmallows cook, they will expand and their milky white color will turn to a golden brown. The pie will usually be served warm and, since the top does not have a crust, each slice will have less fat.
When cooking with marshmallows, the amount used may need to be adjusted depending on the marshmallow product used. Spongy marshmallows sold by the bag are the type typically most available commercially. They come in different sizes such as mini-marshmallows and jumbo versions. Marshmallow cream, a spreadable version containing egg whites, is also offered. Home chefs can also whip up their own marshmallow fluff with a simple combination of egg whites, corn syrup, and sugar.
Usually, any type of marshmallow is interchangeable in a marshmallow pie recipe. For instance, 8 regular sized marshmallows would equal about 1 cup (240 milliliters) of the miniature variety. Marshmallows and its cream version also come in a number of flavors, and homemade versions can be made into practically any flavor such as strawberry, cinnamon, or mint. Use of these flavors while baking can add even more color and variety to a marshmallow pie.