Friday, December 17, 2010

Homemade Marshmallows & Hot Cocoa Mix

These are spoons to stir your hot chocolate. Just dip a plastic spoon into melted chocolate and immediately sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Here's where I found these recipes--they are amazing! I gave these as gifts this year and everyone loved them! I thought the marshmallow recipe looked a little daunting, but they only took me about 20 minutes to make, not counting the time to cut them the next day!

Homemade Marshmallows
1 cup cold water, divided
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin (found in the baking isle of your grocery)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
pinch salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Garnish: 4-5 cups confectioners sugar

Spray (with a non stick vegetable spray) either a half-sheet pan or a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Then, line it with parchment paper. Sift a few tablespoons of confectioners sugar onto the the parchment paper (this is important as it will help to keep the marshmallow from sticking to the paper too much as they set).
Place 1/2 cup cold water into the bowl of your electric mixer (fitted with a whisk attachment). Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes. You can leave this while you make your sugar syrup.

Sugar syrup: place the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cold water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Cover the saucepan and let it come to a full boil. Uncover and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Increase heat to high and boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F (Softball stage), about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Gradually increase the speed to high and beat until mixture has tripled in volume and is very thick and stiff, about 10 minutes (looks like thick creme of marshmallow - imagine that!). Add vanilla extract and beat to combine, about 30 seconds longer.
Note: if you want to add color or flavor extract (like peppermint) to your marshmallows, I mix in the food coloring to the vanilla and then add. You will see it gradually change color.

Scrape marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a damp offset spatula or rubber spatula. The mixture is very sticky! Smooth it out as best as you can keeping your spatula damp. Resist touching the spatula with your fingers or you will enter into a never-ending web of marshmallow that you can't get out of! Although, if you do, it easily cleans up with warm water.

Dust the top of the marshmallow with another few tablespoons of confectioners' sugar and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until set, about 12 hours. Overnight is fine.

Remove the marshmallow from the pan by first running a small sharp knife around the edge of the marshmallow to loosen it from the pan. Invert the pan onto a large cutting board that has been dusted with confectioners' sugar. You might have to use your fingers to help loosen the marshmallow from the pan. Peel off the parchment paper (the marshmallow will be sticky) and dust the top of the marshmallow with more confectioners' sugar.

Cut the marshmallow into squares using a pizza roller or sharp knife. Dip the cut sides of the marshmallows in additional confectioners' sugar. Shake off excess sugar and store the marshmallows in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to two weeks. Its important to make sure any tool you use to cut marshmallows is dusted in confectioners' sugar to prevent sticking.

Makes about 24 marshmallows, or more depending on how you cut them.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
2-3 cups powdered milk
pinch salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Mini chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly by using a whisk until all ingredients are well-blended together. The mixture will be super light and fluffy. Mix in the chocolate mini morsels here and distribute evenly, they are just an added touch for a bit more chocolate flavor.

Fill your mug 1/3 - half full with the cocoa mix (about 1/4 cup) and pour in hot water. Stir to combine. (I printed these instructions on a label and stuck it on the jar).