Marshmallows and Hot Chocolate

Since I’m not planning a wedding this holiday season, I’ve actually had time to get some cookies baked and experiment with different recipes.  This year I wanted to do something a little different for holiday gifts, so I thought that these recipes would make a nice addition.  I have always wanted to make home-made marshmallows, so why not go one step further and make your own hot chocolate?  I decided on a vanilla flavored marshmallow as well as a vanilla flavored hot chocolate since I had some vanilla beans on hand.  These marshmallows are delicious, and I am already planning to make another couple of batches experimenting with different flavors!  The husband has been sneaking them every time he walks by the kitchen so my supply has already been severely depleted… :-)

Vanilla Hot Chocolate Mix - adapted from the recipe on epicurious.com.

  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split crosswise (see tips, below)
  • 1 1/2 pounds high-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process (see tips, below)

Place sugar in large bowl. Split half vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape seeds into sugar, and add pod. Work seeds in with your fingers. Cover snugly with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.

In food processor fitted with metal blade, process semisweet chocolate and milk chocolate until finely ground, using 4-second pulses. (Process in two batches if necessary.)

Remove pod from sugar. Add ground chocolate and cocoa powder to sugar and whisk to blend.

Store mix airtight at room temperature for up to six months.

To serve:
For each serving, heat 8 ounces milk in small saucepan over medium heat until scalded (or microwave 2 1/2 minutes at full power). Whisk in 1/4 to 1/3 cup mix. Serve with homemade marshmallows!

Vanilla Marshmallows - adapted from the smitten kitchen

Makes about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or mint extract or maybe even some food coloring for tinting) - I used 1 tablespoon of Nielsen Massey’s vanilla bean paste

Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. (Some reviewers felt this took even longer with a hand mixer, but still eventually whipped up nicely.)

In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t fret if you don’t get it all out (learning from my mess of a first round). Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (An oiled pizza cutter works well here too.) Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.

Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.

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