Food Heroes: Murphy from Cloud Nine Marshmallows
When Murphy Williams took the very first bite of her own homemade honey and lavender marshmallows, she knew she was on to something. She is now the proud founder of Cloud Nine Marshmallows, creating exquisite gourmet mallows in the most beautiful flavours. Read on to hear her story…
How and when did you start Cloud Nine Marshmallows?
I started Cloud Nine at the beginning of 2013, when a blazing fireplace and roasted marshmallows provided a very welcome respite from the depths of the long winter. I was a features writer – for the Telegraph, Vogue, Esquire, GQ – and had also worked at those publications as an editor before going freelance when I moved to Cornwall ten years ago. I’d been wanting to do something new, and one morning I came across a recipe for Honey and Lavender marshmallows. I had no idea you could make them yourself, let alone flavour them, and I knew straightaway that this was something I could really get into.
The idea of making marshmallows, with their long, part-French history, resonated with me – I am half-French – and I went straight out to buy a candy thermometer and borrowed a KitchenAid food mixer. When my family and I tasted that first batch, it was a revelation. A local gallery was about to open as a tea room for the visitors at Port Eliot and I thought this would be a perfect testing ground for my new confection. When seven packets were sold on their first day, I couldn’t stop smiling.
What makes your marshmallows special?
What makes Cloud Nine special are the ingredients, and the amount of time it takes to make them! They are freshly made every week, with all natural, carefully sourced, quality ingredients. Rather than just adding flavourings, I make them in layers, of our own lemon curd, meringues, pistachio paste, for example, or melted white chocolate. The idea has always been to make them as luxurious and gourmet as possible, without sacrificing quality. For the Creme de Violette flavour, I initially crystallised the petals from violets picked at Port Eliot before realising that it was too time-consuming to make any business sense. I tried lots of different violet liqueurs before settling on Briottet.
For a short while last summer, the raspberries for the Double Raspberry flavour came from our kitchen garden, which was a joy, but demand soon depleted our crop! Getting the light texture right was an important part of working out the basic recipe, and I still love the traditional-with-a-pop-twist packaging, which makes them a gorgeous gift.
What’s your personal favourite flavour and why?
My personal favourite at the moment is the Salted Caramel Peanut, which has just earned Cloud Nine a Gold Taste of the West award. Salted caramel originated in Brittany. We make ours with natural salt hand-harvested from clear waters off the coast of Cornwall. This smoking sweet and savoury modern classic is combined with a nutty crunch for a more-ish and particularly fluffy marshmallow. If there’s any left in the batch, I always find it very hard not to polish them off.
What does a typical day look like for you?
As with all the best jobs, every day is different, but Tuesday to Thursday is governed by fulfilling my weekly Selfridges and online orders. After getting the children to school, we usually cut, coat and package the batches made the night before. It’s always a race to get online orders to the post office and pick up the kids by three. In the afternoon, I try to answer emails, invoices, order supplies, update the website, twitter, instagram and Facebook pages. Then once the children are in bed, I make up the batches.
At busy times, at Christmas, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day in particular, I find myself cooking until 3am every night. I am doing a fair few fairs, festivals and weddings this summer, so I imagine there will be more late nights. Friday is more relaxed, and I can experiment with flavours and catch up. I have never been so grateful for the weekends!
What has been your proudest moment since starting Cloud Nine?
There have been many proud moments. I wanted to hug the person who bought the first packet, and photograph the occasion. Since then, winning three awards – two of them Gold, being selected to supply Selfridges, seeing Cloud Nine on the desert menu at a Cornish restaurant and being tweeted about by Sophie Dahl and Kirstie Allsopp have been big boosts. And seeing the delight on people’s faces when they try them at stalls is always a pleasure.
What is your food heaven, and food hell?
My food heaven is the kitchen of my mother-in-law, Jacquetta St Germans. She is an expert shopper and whenever we visit she has always managed to find some new delights – from violet biscuits from Fortnums to the most wonderful salads from Mr Christians. My food hell is just the sight of a tin of baked beans.
mouth-watering to share?