Friday, December 23, 2011

Tis the season

The holiday season is in full swing and I am in a constant state of bliss! I was feeling rather brave since my last post about the Swiss Pumpkin Roll, because making swiss buttercream was a huge deal to me. So I wanted to tackle something just as monumental and the first thing that I thought of was peppermint mocha cupcakes with a light and fluffily swiss meringue buttercream because it seemed too easy the last time. I searched and scoured cook books, baking notes, blogs, and endless recipes online but I just wasn't satisfied (or inspired) enough with what I was finding. The recipes all seemed very boring and too fussy so I gave up. Not more than an hour later I found myself elbow deep in my pantry just praying to the sugar fairies that I would find a muse somewhere tucked behind the shelves. 

Then it hit me! My need for that "Christmas" flavor came to me in the form of Homemade hot chocolate topped with Peppermint Marshmallows (which I've been dying to make for awhile). The simplicity of these marshmallows still blows my mind. I've already made three batches and each time I grow weaker and weaker and I give in because they are just 'that' good. Don't get me wrong, marshmallows are wonderful especially these marshmallows but they need a friend, a buddy to harmonize with, to highlight their awesomeness. And that my friends is why I decided to make my own homemade hot chocolate mix. There are two versions that I'll share with you because after three batches of marshmallows and tons of hot chocolate laying around Husband was bummed that he couldn't partake in the festivities (he doesn't do sugar remember?) so he politely asked if I could make him a sinless version and to be honest, I like the sinless version way more although I do end up destroying it's sinlessness by plopping three pieces of marshmallows right on top. I mean come on, they're HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS! I'm only human. 

Peppermint two toned marshmallows
3 packets of unflavored gelatin
1 cup of water, divided
2 cups of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp peppermint extract
4 drops red food coloring
2 egg whites

In a large bowl, empty gelatin and add 1/2 cup of water then set aside to bloom. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and remaining 1/2 cup of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a rolling boil on medium high heat. When the mixture reaches 240 degrees F (about 12 minutes) pour gently over the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Whisk on high until light and fluffy and the bowl is no longer hot. This should take about 10 minutes with a handheld mixer and probably half the time with a stand mixer. In a separate bowl (and clean beaters) whisk the egg whites, vanilla and salt until stiff peaks form. Add to marshmallow fluff and mix to combine. Pour half the mixture into a13x9" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper and dusted with powdered sugar. With the fluff that is left in the bowl, add peppermint extract and food coloring then mix again to combine. Pour the remaining fluff into the pan and use a greased spatula to spread evenly. With 1 tbsp of cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp of powdered sugar generously dust the top of the marshmallow using a sifter or a mini sieve. Leave in a cool dry place uncovered for 4 hours or overnight if possible. Cut into desired size squares/shapes and enjoy!

 Hot Chocolate Version 1:
2 cups of Non fat milk powder
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup Hershey's Dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup powered non dairy creamer (I used french vanilla but don't be afraid to try other flavors, Coffemate has some awesome ones during the holidays!)
1/8 tsp salt

Sinless Hot Chocolate (For Husband):
1 cup non fat milk powder
3 tbsp Splenda Sugar blend (using only Splenda has such a powerful and unpleasant aftertaste so just keep that in mind)
1/4 cup Hershey's Dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup powered non dairy creamer
1/4 cup of Turbo charged Chocolate ON HydroWhey protein powder
pinch of salt

For both recipes you can add 3-4 tbsp of mix to 6 oz. of hot water or steamed milk for a delicious sweet treat and a great vessel to showcase those marshmallows! I packaged the mix in small treat bags for guests to take home at our Christmas party. The sinless mix is stored in an airtight container on our counter. The Sinless version is half the amount of the regular version because although it is sinless, it still doesn't contain anything that we can benefit from so it's still in our best interest to limit the availability of this treat to a minimum. 

I hope you give these recipes a try, they're both super easy and rather satisfying. Let me know what you think of these recipes by leaving a comment below.

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