Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Review: Freedom Mallows


I had a conversation yesterday, about being vegetarian ‘out of duty’. Truth be told, I didn’t quite understand the logic. For many, vegetarianism does feel like a duty, and I’m not sure why that could be seen as a bad thing. Most vegetarians aren’t people who dislike the taste or texture of meat, they are people who put more value on the life of the animal than the taste of the meat. When I went vegan, it wasn’t because all of a sudden I’d decided that cheese tasted terrible, it was because I’d decided I could no longer ignore the suffering of the animals used to make the cheese.

There are lots of things that I learned to live without when I went vegan. Lion bars, meringue pavlovas, cheese slices, and dippy eggs being just a few. I’m not going to pretend becoming vegan was easy, I missed cheese a lot for the first few weeks, but then the cravings passed. I have been vegan for six years, and in that time there have been lots of new products appearing on the market. Being vegan seems to be getting easier and easier. I can get vegan cupcakes delivered to my door with my weekly shop, I can whip up some yorkshire puddings using an egg substitute, and I can pop into the next village for vegan burgers easily enough.

There are some things though, that are harder to come by. Vegan marshmallows, for example, had proved impossible. I have tried a number of brands over the years, each leaving me with a bad taste (or, more accurately, weird texture) in my mouth. The closest I came were from Ms Cupcake, her marshmallows tasted amazing, but didn’t melt in hot chocolate. Instead they kept their shape, and simply released a marshmallow-like residue over the top of the drink, it wasn’t great.

Freedom Mallows contacted me recently, offering me the chance to review their products, and since I am never one to turn down vegan treats, I said yes immediately. To be perfectly honest though, I was slightly concerned that the mallows might be reminiscent of the other vegan mallows I’d tried, leaving me with nothing nice to say. They arrived shortly after, and I’m pleased to say I have plenty of nice things to say.

As soon as I’d opened the box and snuck out of the toddler’s sight, I tried one of the mallows. They do not disappoint. They taste exactly like the marshmallows I remember from my childhood. They aren’t too hard, or too tough or too chewy - they are creamy and delicious and melt in your mouth. Over the course of the afternoon, I managed to eat half of the first bag. In the end I had to hide them from myself to stop me eating them. This says more about my mental state probably, but I also feel it reflects positively on Freedom Mallows.

For me, the most important stage in my rigorous marshmallow testing procedure is the hot chocolate. A vegan hot chocolate will sadly never live up to its non-vegan counterpart not because of the milk or chocolate, both of which can easily be substituted, but the squirty cream. Though there are a few options available, none of them taste anywhere near as good as the squirty cream I remember from my youth, and so are probably best ignored. Marshmallows were previously an equally impossible task, and best left out of a vegan hot chocolate, though I’m delighted this is no longer the case. The Freedom Mallows melted perfectly, leaving only small melted mallow shapes sitting on top of the steaming chocolate. It tasted delicious.


The next test was baking. I had already been told the mallows worked great for krispie cakes, and am looking forward to trying that at Easter, but wanted to do something a bit more ambitious this time. Childhood birthday parties always tasted of party rings, jelly and icecream, and jam mallows. I had to google to find out the name, but jam mallows were some coconut marshmallow jam-filled biscuit, cheap and cheerful, but amazingly tasty in that weird soggy biscuit sort of a way. I loved them and ate them by the bucketload. I haven’t thought about them in a long time, but when I ate my first few Freedom Mallows, I dared myself to dream. Could these mallows be used to create a vegan friendly jam mallow substitute?

It turns out that yes they could, sort of. The jam mallows I made looked nothing like the ones you buy, but they tasted pretty good. The biscuits were a bit thick, and I could do with perfecting that recipe really, but they were sort of right. I used the wrong flavour jam and it was noticeable. To get the mallows to melt, I placed them on top of a biscuit in the oven for two minutes, thinking they wouldn’t melt properly, but they did! The recipe needs some work to make it right, but the Freedom Mallows performed perfectly and tasted delicious in a biscuit.

The final test for these poor squidgy pink mallows, was the toasting test. I used to love burning marshmallows on the bonfire. No, not melting, burning. I just used to set mine alight, blow out the flame and then eat the burnt out shell of mallow. I don’t know why, that’s just what I did. Anyway, Freedom Mallows set alight wonderfully, burn very well, but sadly don’t quite the gooey insides I remember from all those years ago. They do, however, taste really good, so I can forgive them.

Freedom Mallows are priced at £2.49 a bag, and can be bought online here. I’ve also seen them at vegan events and health food shops, so you may be able to buy them in a shop near you. Freedom Mallows are dairy-free, gelatin-free, gluten-free and fat-free. They are Kosher, Halal and suitable for vegans. They are made using natural flavours and colours.


Disclaimer: I was sent some Freedom Mallows for free, but all the words above are my actual real brain thoughts. 

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