One of the first Christmases my Stepmom spent in my home she couldn’t sleep. She had been working nonstop and into the night, which is not uncommon for her. She wants to create the best, whatever, she can and will make any sort of personal sacrifice to make that happen. I admire the shit out of that.
So she could not sleep and I was in college so I was well past the need to wake up at the crack of dawn to open presents. I was woken up, way too early for my college self, to Shelley’s smile holding a cup of hot chocolate. Because if you are going to rouse a sleeping Kate it is best to bring coffee or chocolate.
This was the richest hot cocoa I have ever had, I later found out she chopped up Lindt truffles and melted them to create drinking chocolate. And I got a full 8 oz cup.
Now, I did not unwrap numerous truffles but I think I made a pretty kicking holiday hot chocolate with a little added spice.
Salted Chili Hot Cocoa with Homemade Marshmallows
1 ¼ Tbsp Unflavored Gelatin
¾ C Sugar
½ C Light Corn Syrup
⅛ Tsp Salt
¾ Tsp Vanilla Extract
Confectioner Sugar for Dusting
Yields 20 Marshmallows
Warning, This is wicked sticky and will make a bit of a mess so be ready.
As you may have gathered my mom loved to cook, absolutely loved it. And she was good at it: simple dinners, parties, holidays, sit-downs. She could conquer them all. She could whip up anything with whatever you put in front of her.
My mom also loved reading about cooking, she was deep in cookbooks, had milk crates of Martha Stewart Living and Bonaparte Magazine. Literal milk crates with issues going back years! I don’t know if she could possibly ever get through them all, but she liked to have them.
She did have a habit of rewriting recipes she tried on index cards and storing them in her recipe box. She would make adjustments and order them in specific slots. Complete with full menus in the back of the box from gatherings past.
I dig this box out every once in a while to see what she was interested in. Sometimes I remember dishes she made and sometimes I imagine what they would taste like when she would have gotten around to them. This time during my digging I found a recipe for Homemade Marshmallows, I remember these! She made little snowmen one year, covered in powdered sugar.
I was inspired to give this recipe a try, how hard could it be? This particular recipe says it is from Martha Stewart Living, January 2002. I told you she had them going back years!
Next came deciphering her handwriting, I swear my mom was the last generation to use cursive regularly. It is like trying to make out a language you once knew and have to struggle to remember, piecing together letters to make a word that makes sense in the sentence.
I halved this recipe (my listed measurements are what I used) because I did not need 40 marshmallows.
In a large bowl combine gelatin and ¼ C of water and let stand for 30 minutes. If you have a stand mixer you are going to want to get that baby out, it will make a world of difference. I only have a hand mixer and I was struggling the entire time, it was a great arm work out though. Use your whisk attachment no matter what mixer style you use.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and the other ¼ C of water in a small saucepan; place over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Using a pastry brush wash down the sides of the pan to avoid a sticky burning mess along the edges. The extra water from the brush will dissolve the sugar crystals forming along the sides.
Using a candy thermometer, I was lucky enough to still have my friend’s meat thermometer from Thanksgiving that I was able to rig up using a pair of tongs to ensure the tip was not touching the bottom of the pan and suspended in the middle of my sugar. Also, double check that the thermometer will go to the temperature needed!
Raise heat to high and cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244℉, immediately remove from heat. It easily balls up, when you remove your thermometer check to see if a small globe of sugar remains at the tip.
With the mixer on low, slowly and CAREFULLY pour syrup into softened gelatin (nothing hurts so much as a sugar burn!). Increase speed to high; beat until the mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume. My mom’s recipe card says 15 minutes. I was fighting what appeared to be a losing battle with my hand mixer and I was honestly worried I was going to kill it, or it was going to start smoking as I forced it through this sticky mixture. I only mixed for about 8 minutes before I thought it looked like described and put my mixer out of its misery. Add vanilla and beat until it is incorporated.
Here is where I go off script, this stuff was so sticky that I did not trust simply dusting my 9x9 with confectioner sugar would be enough to pry the marshmallows out later. Line your container with parchment paper, all the way up the sides, you will not regret it! Now, generously dust your parchment paper covered container.
The directions also say “pour in mixture” I couldn’t help but laugh. There was no way this was going to pour. Wet a rubber spatula and scoop out the mixture into your pan, wet your spatula every time! Otherwise, you will be leaving quite a bit of marshmallow behind. I had white all up against the sides of my bowl that I was not able to scrape off, it simply stuck to other places and I feel like I left a ¼ C stuck to the bowl. When I was talking it out later I came up with possibly placing this bowl inside another bowl with warm water. Maybe heating the bowl would loosen the mixture from the sides. Something to try, let me know if it works!
When all (or close to) your mixture is in your pan wet your hands and spread marshmallow all the way to the edge getting as even as possible. Dust top with confectioner sugar and pat smooth, dust again.
Let stand overnight on your counter uncovered to dry out. Turn out onto a cutting board, aren’t you happy you used parchment paper? Peel away paper and cut into any desired shape. I used a cookie cutter to get festive snowflakes! Dust exposed sides with confectioner sugar and store in an airtight container.
4 C Whole Milk
½ C UnSweetened Cocoa Powder
½ C Sugar
4 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Tsp Salt
6 Oz Bourbon
Yields 4 Servings
We just made homemade marshmallows, which I believe you should conquer once in your life, what are we going to serve them with? Hot chocolate of course. My mind was spinning over the different kinds we could make, would you really expect traditional hot cocoa at My Tiny Cook Spot? The options were: peppermint, raspberry, or spicy.
By popular demand, spicy! My favorite! Although I was interested as to how to make a raspberry hot cocoa, next time.
In a large saucepan combine milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, and sugar. Stir until sugar and powder have dissolved and milk is warm. Don’t leave cooking milk unattended. When it gets too hot it boils over fast and can leave you with a mess! Add chili powder to your specific taste.
I love presentation, especially when it comes to cocktails. I want to tailor the whole experience so every piece is there for a purpose and creates a small light of childish wonder in my friends’ eyes. That may seem silly, but if you go to an extremely nice bar and they present an over the top drink with a few bells and whistles you’re a little speechless. For a second. Until the check comes and you realize you could have had three beers for the price of that one drink.
Why not serve yourself a few bells and whistles at home? Drink at home like you are at a cocktail bar, your wallet will be excited. And so will your taste buds.
So for my hot cocoa, I laid my extra large cappuccino style clear mug in my sink, sitting in a bowl so one side was easily exposed. Using a wet paper towel I dampened a triangle and sprinkled confectioner sugar down the side, creating the appearance of snow on a window pane.
Set your mugs right side up again, pour a shot of bourbon into each then top off with Hot Cocoa, let the chocolate waft upward, carried on the back of the rising steam. Place a marshmallow into each glass and enjoy. Sweet, Spicy, and Salty.