Yesterday I enjoyed spending part of my day searching for ingredients used in hot chocolate recipes to make when Jamie comes again. I found a wonderful website named The Spice Sage. Along with my order, they're sending me a free sample of a special salt, and a little free saffron, which is very expensive. I'm getting some lovely Ceylon cinnamon, Dutch processed chocolate powder, some ground almonds, some dry milk, and also some spices that aren't used in hot chocolate. I think Jamie and I should taste-test different recipes for hot chocolate, and experiment with thicker ones, thinner ones, creamier ones, etc. We both love hot chocolate, so I think it will be nice to try some different tastes and find the one we prefer. As Ina Garten says, "How easy is that?"
As I looked at hot chocolate recipes, I realized that many of them used homemade marshmellows to go with it. I was reminded of the first time I watched someone make marshmellow on television, and I can still see the person making it, cutting it, and using it in a steaming hot chocolate. And I remember thinking how much I'd like to make some myself. For some reason...which now escapes me...I didn't think I could make marshmellow.
But homemade marshmellows have become so popular that there are many recipes anyone can master. And as Jennifer, one of the Two Fat Ladies says, it's "easy peasy." So today I want to give you a choice of two recipes--one without egg whites and one with. I don't use uncooked egg whites, but many people do. I looked up many recipes, and most of them use egg whites...even Martha Stewart's recipe includes them. But I'll use the recipe without egg whites.
The recipe I like is from Food Network's Alton Brown. He says this recipe is intermediately difficult. I have faith in you, and believe you can make some marshmellow, if you really want to. Here are a few comments left on Alton's site for using this recipe. Tabby, who lives in Farmer's Branch, Texas, says:
"Works beautifully. Fluffy and spongy where store-bought now seems dry and crusty. You can make them with a hand mixer. Be sure to have a 4-quart bowl since the mix will fluff up.... When the syrup gets to the right temp...you will be a prisoner of the mixer for a full 12-15 minutes." Tabby replaced the corn syrup with 1 cup sugar syrup made of 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, simmered like the marshmellow directions for 3 minutes covered, and then uncovered to softball stage.
Makes approximately 9 dozen marshmellows
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup ice cold water, divided
- 12 ounces granulated sugar, approx. 1 1/2 cups
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Nonstick spray
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping, prepare the pan as follows.
For regular marshmellows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9 inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallow to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallow out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
This next recipe comes from Tyler Florence, also on Food Network. His recipe has egg whites, and he gives a raw egg warning about the possibility of salmonella. So if you're concerned with using raw eggs, don't use this recipe.
- 3 tablespoons (3 packets) powdered gelatin
- 2 cups cold water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting pan and marshmellows
- Butter for greasing pan
In a medium-sized saucepan soak the gelatin in cold water. After the gelatin has softened, approximately 10 minutes, add the regular sugar and gently dissolve over low heat, approximately 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks, and then fold in the sifted confectioners' sugar. While the mixer is on low, slowly pour in the cooled gelatin mixture. Increase the speed and beat until white and thick. The volume should double in size and should form between soft and firm peaks.
Line an 8 by 8 inch baking dish with high sides with foil, grease slightly with butter, and coat with confectioners' sugar. Alternatively, you can use a baking sheet, but the marshmallows will not be as tall. Pour marshmallow mixture in and top with more sifted confectioners' sugar. Leave out overnight or for at least 3 hours to set. The marshmallow should be light and spongy when set.
Loosen marshmallow from edges of tray and invert onto a large cutting board. Peel off foil and use a large knife to cut the marshmallow into cubes. Dredge each piece in confectioners' sugar.
Tyler Florence also gives a recipe for hot chocolate which sounds easy and delicious, so here it is.
3/4 cup powdered milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Take the bittersweet chocolate and roughly chop it up to give a chunky, but consistent, size. Mix well with a wooden spoon and then store in a dry airtight container. To make the hot chocolate, simply add 1 cup of water per 1/2 cup of hot cocoa mix. Heat in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring with a whisk. Heat until hot, but do not boil, about 6 to 7 minutes. Serve with marshmellows.
It seems to me that making marshmallow is not your typical recipe challenge, so I'll leave it with you and ask no questions. I do some things just to please my grandchildren, and I think Jamie and I will enjoy trying new hot chocolate and marshmellow recipes on her next visit.
I hope you all have a wonderful day!