First came the cupcake explosion, then the macaroon revival – and now thanks to Dulwich entrepreneur Sheila Khullar, it seems to be the turn of the marshmallow.

With the help of her three daughters Helena, Livia and Clodia, Sheila has recently launched her luxury marshmallow brand ‘La Maison Guimauve’ – a French translation of ‘The Marshmallow House’, which proved to be very accurate when I went to interview Sheila at her home as she tried and tested a variety of batches.

 

Why marshmallow?

After holidaying in France several times, I began to notice how seriously the French took marshmallow as opposed to the ones sold in our British supermarkets. Being fans of marshmallow already, we decided to take some inspiration from French recipes and experimented with our own spin on them.

What inspired you to sell marshmallows commercially?

We started making marshmallows at home simply through experiment as we already liked them as a family.  Luckily, the batches progressively got better and better with new flavours, of course along with a few mishaps.  We started noticing retailers selling luxury marshmallows similar to the ones we had made and felt confident that we could compete at the same or at an even higher level.

I had already been approached to make favour bags for a friends’ wedding and had received encouraging comments from various friends. From there onwards, a snowball effect began and within two months, we launched the business professionally, gained a website as well as a social media following – which hopefully is only just the beginning!

What is wrong with the more common recipe sold in the supermarkets?

I think the problem is that they are just so manufactured! From additives to artificial flavouring and after seeing how they can be made differently, it’s quite disappointing that the classic ‘pink and white’ versions are more known to people.

What makes La Maison Guimauve’s marshmallows so different?

We tried to take inspiration from everything we didn’t like about the supermarket versions and concocted the opposite. Therefore, our versions are gluten free, only around twenty-five calories per piece and everything is taken from natural ingredients. For example, our orange marshmallows contain the juice from real oranges, instead of using artificial flavouring – topped off with homemade candied orange peel!

Which flavours would you like to try to produce in the future and which ones have not worked out so well?

Coconut and mint are definitely on our list to try next, along with the traditional French flavour of violet. We already have a chocolate flavour for sale, but I’d also like to mix it with another flavour perhaps.

We have been through a whole range of flavours and different combinations in the process of starting the business and there are a few that, to our surprise, just did not work. Those were blueberry and almond and they’ve been left off our website for the time being I’m afraid!

And out of all the flavours you have made, which particular one has been your favourite?

That is a hard choice and I’d love to say all of them but probably cappuccino is the one that stands out! I managed to strike the exact balance I was looking for with the coffee and milky flavours in the cappuccino batches, which can be difficult, but it proved to be successful!

Are there any food products that you would like to put your own spin on like you have with the marshmallows?

Like the marshmallows, rocky roads have also been a firm family favourite and amongst friends when we have shared them out in the past. I think there are so many possible flavours and blends you could try with a rocky road and it helps that everybody seems to love them!

We’ve also been recently experimenting with cinder toffee, which has proved to be surprisingly easy to make yet so appetising. However, for the time being, we are just focusing on the marshmallows but it would definitely be nice to broaden our horizons in the future.

Where do you see La Maison Guimauve in five years’ time?

The brand was modelled on luxury and high-quality produce, so for us as a company, it would only make sense to be sold in shops that hold the same values including Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Harrods etc.

In the meantime, I would just like to see La Maison Guimauve’s word spread, to try new flavours and generally expand in any way we can – one day at a time!

You can read more about La Maison Guimauve here: https://www.facebook.com/lamaisonguimauve/posts_to_page

http://www.lamaisonguimauve.com/new-page-1/

Sophie Allen, Sydenham High School