Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Clara Bow’s Vanilla Marlow

Welcome back! I’m cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay cookbook but today, I’m taking a little detour to 1933 so that I can prepare a dessert contributed by Clara Bow. (You can catch up on all my past taste tests here.)

I’m so excited about Flicker Alley’s release of Children of Divorce starring Clara Bow and Gary Cooper that I decided to get cooking! We all need a movie-watching snack, don’t you think?

hula-oh-ho-ho

Clara Bow needs to introduction, she remains one of the most popular and beloved personalities of the silent screen. There was a rumor going around for a while that her Bronx honk killed her career in the talkies but if you look at her screen credits, she was a talkie star almost as long as she was a silent star. So there.

One other bit of advice: Clara Bow’s still pictures do not do her justice. Oh, she looks lovely but her real appeal was her personality and her wonderful talent for improvisation before the camera. So if you’ve never seen Bow move, you’ve never really seen Bow. No one could beat her playfulness and sass.

mantrap-crab-and-fish

Now on to the food! Bow’s recipe is a no-machine ice cream made from melted marshmallows and whipped cream. Do I have your attention? I thought so.

clara-bow-vanilla-marlow

This recipe has been tested on other sites and some people hold the erroneous belief that Bow invented the Marlow. She never claimed any such thing (in fact, she cheerfully admitted she couldn’t boil water in another celebrity cookbook) and the recipe dates back to the popularity of home iceboxes in the late nineteenth century. (The name is likely a corruption of “mallow” as in marshmallow.) Marlows continued to show up in recipe books through the mid-twentieth century before they mysteriously disappeared, not unlike the dinosaurs. I’m not sure why as no-machine ice cream is always a popular concept. Either an asteroid hit the Yucatan Peninsula or Americans developed a sudden fear of the double boiler sometime around the Summer of Love.

Exactly 40 marshmallows
Exactly 40 marshmallows

Marlows could be flavored and in my research, I ran across bloggers who prepared mocha, chocolate and pineapple flavored Marlows. (Not all together, that would be disgusting!) Bow’s recipe is flavored with just vanilla– and lots of it! Two tablespoons in all.

I'm meeeeeelting! Oh no!!!!
I’m meeeeeelting! Oh no!!!!

The recipe calls for forty marshmallows. I used standard Jet-Puffed marshmallows, plain white, not those weird flavored things. (Here is the info on weight, ingredients, etc.) I know these things vary from country to country and if the marshmallow conundrum is giving you a headache, I recommend trying condensed milk no-machine ice cream, which is a little easier, uses more international ingredients and is super tasty. (I made an Ivan Mosjoukine version here.)

My ruthlessly whipped cream.
My ruthlessly whipped cream.

I counted out forty marshmallows, poured two cups of milk and got started. I use a non-stick double boiler insert with an eight cup capacity and it juuuuuust held all the marshmallows and milk. One of those teensy double boilers will not be up to the task so I recommend using a heat-safe bowl over simmering water or microwaving in ten second increments. Once the marshmallows melted and were incorporated with the milk, I added the vanilla.

My gently (GENTLY!!!) stirred mixture.
My gently (GENTLY!!!) stirred mixture.

I whipped a pint of heavy cream (for you metric people, a pint is just shy of half a liter) and waited for the marshmallow mixture to cool. Many of the recipes I read (including this one!) stated that the mixture would stiffen but I didn’t find that to be the case. Oh well. Anyway, I waited for the cooldown and then gently stirred the marshmallow mixture into the whipped cream. You don’t want to deflate anything because air bubbles will keep this mixture light and fluffy and so I repeat: gently.

My trusty paper pint containers.
My trusty paper pint containers.

The recipe calls for the Marlow to be poured (they said pour, not spread!) into trays but I opted to fill one pint ice cream containers. My mixing bowl has a small spout, so it was a breeze to transfer the mixture. If you’re using a plain round bowl, you might want to use a measuring cup to control the pour a little better.

I stopped pouring about half an inch from the top of the container because I didn’t want to risk splashes or leaks. The recipe yielded just shy of five pints. You can get your own plain white pint ice cream containers here. (They also come in half-pints and quarts.) I highly recommend going this route if you have the money because it makes cleanup a breeze and you can decorate!

I popped the pints into the freezer and then I waited. And waited. And then I figured I would just wait until the next day to try them out. This is what they looked like after a day in the freezer:

clara-bow-vanilla-marlow-6

Score: 5 out of 5. Very nice vanilla flavor here and the air bubbles really do keep things nice and light. The marshmallows add a richness to what is essentially frozen whipped cream.

Texture!
Texture!

The texture is not totally ice cream, more like a frozen mousse or marshmallow cream. It holds its shape even when melted (all those marshmallows!) and crumbles slightly when frozen. This is not a deal-breaker but you might want to describe the dessert as “frozen marshmallow cream” to your guests so that the texture does not take them by surprise. It’s all about the marketing!

Sprinkles!
Sprinkles!
More sprinkles!
More sprinkles!

Now, obviously Clara Bow would be a big fan of sprinkles and pretty dishes. I’m using some cute mini ramekins I had just bought and a selection of cheery sprinkles. (Nonpareils, jimmies, colored sugar and those flat shaped sprinkles. What are they called in your neck of the woods?)

Yum!
Yum!
Final sprinkle shot.
Final sprinkle shot.

My tasters finished their portions in a hurry and were soon back for seconds, which is a pretty good sign. What do you think? Would Clara love this? I think so! And best of all, this is the perfect snack for watching Clara Bow movies!

16 Replies to “Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Clara Bow’s Vanilla Marlow”

  1. Hmmm… this reminds me of the ice milk craze in the 70’s. I’m gathering homemade marshmallows would work as well… but I know nothing about making those. To the batpole!

  2. Sounds like a perfect match for Clara πŸ™‚

    And also a perfect Christmas dish here in Australia…. the sprinkles are called hundreds and thousands here, no idea why they just are.

      1. There’s a classic kid’s party specialty here – fairy bread – which is white bread buttered and sprinkled heavily with them. We all grew up with it…

        BTW, I should mention how much I love your gifs – I’ve saved these (so love Clara) and quite a few others just because they make me smile πŸ™‚

  3. Oh, I have got to try this one, sounds and looks good! Of course I would try anything if you tell me it’s Clara’s recipe, she’s one of my favorites, so talented!

  4. Of these recipes from the stars, is there a main dish you think would go well before serving this dessert?

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