January 03, 2014

homemade marshmallows & peppermint hot cocoa

I hope your holidays were so good!  We've had a houseful since the day my kids got out of school.  My home is a constant beehive of teenagers.  And it's been the most fun two weeks having gobs of company here eating, watching football games, sleeping over, and eating. But my goodness - January has come packing a cold punch, hasn't it?! I'm listening to the Weather Channel in the background, and there are temps across the country that make Arkansas' 20s sound balmy! Brrrrr, y'all! So we've been snuggling into our comfies, lighting fires, and making warm cups of hot cocoa over the holiday break. And boy have I got a treat for you that'll put your run-of-the-mill hot cocoa packets over the top!

My sister-in-law Allison and I have talked for at least a year about having a test-kitchen day where we made our own homemade marshmallows.  And finally FINALLY we got our girls together and whipped up a batch! We laughed and made messes and questioned every step. But in the end, these homemade marshmallows were delightful and creamy and so so sweet. And in my glee about our fancy marshmallows, I stirred up the most delicious cup of hot cocoa ever....I think you're gonna love it! So today is a double-shot with two recipes that are sure to warm you up wherever you are!


Vegetable oil for brushing
4 packages of unflavored gelatin {3 Tbls + 1.5 tsp}
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp good vanilla extract
1.5 cups powdered sugar

Brush a 9x13 pan with vegetable oil; line with parchment paper, and brush the paper with oil as well.  Choose a 9x13 that has the least-rounded, most-straight corners so the marshmallows are square. Set pan aside.

Note: A 9x13 pan makes 24 very big square marshmallows that we decided to quarter or halve. You may try to spread the mixture in a half-sheet pan instead to make more traditional sized marshmallows.

Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 3/4 cup of water into a large saucepan. Do NOT use a medium saucepan because the mixture will boil up and over. Lesson learned. Bring to a boil over high heat stirring until the sugar is dissolved. After sugar is dissolved, cook without stirring until a candy thermometer register 238 or soft-ball stage. 

Meanwhile put 3/4 cup cold water in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer and shake 4 packets of unflavored gelatin over the water. Let it soften for 5 minutes. It smells really bad. Allison thought it smelled like throw-up, and I thought it smelled like dog breath. So that gives you something to look forward to!

Attach the bowl with the gelatin  to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the hot sugar mixture. Gradually increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is white, glossy, and very thick - approximately 12 minutes.  {When beating liquids at high speed, I always cover the mixer with a big kitchen towel to catch the splashes.}  Reduce speed and beat in the vanilla. Pour the mixture in the prepared pan and smooth the top. Set aside, uncovered, until firm - at least 4 hours or overnight.

Sift one cup of powdered sugar onto a work surface. Unmold the marshmallow from the pan and lay on the powdered sugar work surface. Spray a sharp knife with baking spray and cut the marshmallows into desired sizes. Sift 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into a medium bowl, and toss a few marshmallows at a time in the bowl to coat. Store marshmallows in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
{makes 2 cups}

2 cups whole milk
2 packets hot cocoa mix
Homemade marshmallows

In the bottom of a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until just about to boil. Stir in peppermint baking chips and stir until melted. Whisk in 2 packets of cocoa mix and stir until combined. Pour into two mugs, top with homemade marshmallows and a sprinkle of more peppermint chips. It's practically dessert,  y'all. Enjoy!