Some treats evoke a sense of cozy. Marshmallows are cozy. Fluffy, soft, sweet- what’s not to like. This is the season of joyful and cozy eating and indulging. Just go with it. Forget the diet for now. Just once in your life you need to make homemade marshmallows. I think Christmas time is the perfect time. Imagine Christmas morning as you set up a hot chocolate bar and include these as part of your cozy plan. Make your hot chocolate and have it sitting warm on the stove as your little gremlins open their presents.
I have made mallows several times and I find my favorite recipe is one with a little egg white in the mix. They come out softer and less rubbery. The Husband proclaimed he doesn’t even like marshmallows but he likes these. A lot. This recipe makes a nice thick square when cut and quite a few so you can wrap them in cellophane bags and give as gifts-perhaps with a sleeve of mocha, hot chocolate mix or peppermint mocha mix. Plan to make them early in the day or the night before so they can set up. It’s a gift to yourself curled up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and tucked into your favorite fuzzy blanket.
yield: one 9×13 inch pan (36-40 marshmallows)
3/4 Cup cold water
3 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
3 Cups sugar
3/4 Cup light corn syrup
3/4 Cup hot water
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 large egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. pure peppermint extract
3 Tbsp. finely crushed peppermint candy canes (about 3 mini candy-canes)
red food coloring
confectioners sugar and cornstarch for tossing marshmallows
Line a 9×13 inch pan with baking parchment, allowing excess to hang over both sides. Sprinkle liberally with confectioners sugar
Place the egg whites in a clean mixer bowl with set up of mixer with whisk attachment.
In a small bowl place cold water. Sprinkle gelatin over water a teaspoon at a time allowing to soak in as your sprinkle. Let stand to bloom.
In a heavy saucepan (3-4 quart) combine sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt. Cook over medium heat stirring until sugar dissolves. Once sugar dissolves, stop stirring insert a candy thermometer and continue to cook until mixture reaches soft ball stage (240 F on a candy thermometer). Once mixture reaches 200 F start to beat egg whites on medium high-speed until stiff; BE CAREFUL TO NOT LET WHITES GET OVERBEATEN AND DRY. IF OVERBEATEN, THEY WILL APPEAR CURDLED. Turn mixer speed down to low if whites appear to be ready before sugar mixture reaches 240 F. Once mixture reaches 240° F turn off heat and add the bloomed gelatin, and whisk with hand whisk to combine. Carefully pour the sugar/gelatin mixture to the stiff egg whites down the side of mixer bowl in a steady stream being careful not to let sugar touch whisk. Add in vanilla, peppermint and crushed candy cane and beat until stiff and glossy; about 8-10 minutes. Pour half of marshmallow mixture into prepared pan spread to distribute evenly, then drop about 6-8 drops of red food coloring, moving quickly swirl color into mallow. Pour the remaining mallow into pan, spread evenly and again drop more random food color and swirl with knife or bamboo skewer. Dust entire surface with confectioners sugar and cover with plastic wrap.
refrigerate marshmallows overnight to allow to set. Remove entire slab of marshmallow using the parchment paper and cut into squares using sharp scissors.
Whisk together 1 Cup confectioners sugar along with 1/2 Cup confectioners sugar and toss cut marshmallows. Shake off excess sugar mixture and store in an airtight container.
I know a lot of people do not consider themselves a baker, or they get intimidated with complicated multi step recipes. Holiday time is a time to have fun and TRY to decrease your stress by just having fun in the kitchen and making tasty treats that you enjoy but are comfortable with. If you are not one to knock out a Buche de Noel then- by all means this easy truffle recipe is something you can certainly do. I love anything caramel and especially SALTED caramel. I HATE tempering chocolate so these truffles are covered in cocoa, but you could certainly dip them in tempered chocolate if you like a more formal looking truffle.
Salted Caramel-Chocolate Truffles
yield: about 72-80 truffles
2 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup water
16 oz. (1 pound) semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 2 1/2 Cups)
1 1/2 Cups heavy cream
2 tsp. kosher salt
Cocoa powder (natural-unsweetened) for coating (such as Hershey’s)
1. In a heat proof medium bowl place the chocolate chips and set aside.
2. Place a small glass of water and insert a pastry brush inside the glass (I prefer a silicon brush for this) and set next to the stove. Measure the salt and have next to the stove as well.
3. In a 3 quart (medium) saucepan place the sugar and carefully pour the water over the sugar to combine. Heat the sugar and water over medium high heat and bring to a boil until sugar turns amber in color. DO NOT stir the caramel- but rather swirl the pan from time to time to ensure color stays even. If sugar crystals form around the edges of the pan- take the wet pastry/silicon brush and let water drip down the sides of pan to dissolve any crystals. Once sugar is almost amber microwave the heavy cream for about 30-40 seconds until warm. Once sugar is amber color, remove from heat and pour in the warm cream and kosher salt and whisk to combine. Caution- with the adding of the cream it will bubble up and spit so be careful not to get burned. Combine well and then pour the caramel over the chocolate chips until combined and the chips are melted. Pour the mixture into a shallow cake pan or heat proof container. Chill the mixture (uncovered) in the refrigerator until it becomes set; about 50-60 minutes.
4. Remove chilled and set truffle mixture and scoop out small amounts (about 1 inch) and roll in your hands until smooth. If you have a small scoop this works well. Roll the balls in cocoa powder and place in a wax paper or parchment lined container. Once the truffles are all rolled, chill again to help the cocoa meld a bit to the chocolate. Serve at room temperature.
Everyone likes to receive a gift. Sometimes the best gift is when it’s totally unexpected. Maybe you want to thank your neighbor for always bringing your mail in when you’re out-of-town. Perhaps you’ve gotten to know your UPS man so well, you know his first name (you know who you are) and want to thank him for always leaving your packages in that right discreet hidden spot instead of leaving that annoying ticket. There can be a myriad of reasons why you want to show a little sugar love. Here’s an idea-bring a batch of these to your kids next swim meet-whip them out and start making new friends. Enjoy.
Fleur de Sel Caramels
recipe: Ina Garten
(yield: 64 pieces)
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1/4 Cup water
1/4 Cup light corn syrup
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Cup heavy cream
1 tsp. Fleur de sel (kosher salt would also do)+ more for sprinkling
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Prepare an 8 inch square pan by lining it with parchment paper (both sides) so that the paper hangs over the sides by two inches, and lightly brushing it with vegetable oil. In a 2 cup glass measuring cup heat the cream until hot. Stir in the butter and salt and set aside. Have a candy thermometer available.
In a heavy 2 quart saucepan place the sugar, water, and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium high heat. DO NOT STIR, but swirl the pan occasionally as necessary to maintain even heat distribution. Boil until the syrup mixture is golden brown. Remove from the heat and carefully add the cream mixture (be careful as it will bubble up and spit) stir with a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon and return to the heat and bring back to a boil using a candy thermometer until the mixture reaches hard ball stage. When the mixture reaches hard ball (248° degrees F) add in the vanilla, stir and pour into prepared pan. Allow the pan to cool in the refrigerator until set. Cut into one inch squares and sprinkle with additional salt. Wrap in 4×4 inch squares of wax paper and twist the ends. Store in a cool place.
Have you noticed at Holiday time that almost every kind of booze is on sale? bourbon, rum, brandy, you name it, it’s likely to be on sale. Is this a good excuse to make some bourbon balls?!
No guilt, no shame when you buy that huge bottle of booze; you walk straight to the counter girl, head held high, shoulders back. You’re welcome. You’re gonna need a good 1/2 cup of booze for these bourbon balls, you owe it to yourself to buy the economy size. I know, the check out guy is smiling, huh? Yeah, you go right ahead and tell him you’re making bourbon balls!….careful now he might just follow you out of the store. Easy girl.
Hey, you might have to slip a few to the reindeer, Rudolph needs a good warm up to keep that nose going. Santa won’t mind….
(recipe adapted from Kate Wheeler)
10 oz. graham crackers, crushed fine in a food processor
3/4 Cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 Cup confectioners sugar
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 Cup good quality bourbon
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup or Lyles golden syrup
Coarse sanding sugar or decorative sugar for coating
1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, ground walnuts, and confectioners sugar in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a glass bowl, place the chocolate chips and in 30 second intervals melt the chips in a microwave on high; stopping to stir between each interval, then heating at 10 second intervals until the chocolate is melted. Add in the corn syrup; the mixture will seize a bit, just keep stirring and do the best you can.
3. Pour the bourbon over the crumb mixture in the bowl and stir to combine as best you can; not all of the mixture may combine and that’s okay. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and combine with a spatula until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Chill at least 30 minutes.
4. Pour the sanding sugar or decorative sugar in a dish. Form the bourbon balls into one inch to 1 1/2 inch balls and roll in the sugar. Store for up to a month in an airtight container. BUT DO YOU REALLY THINK THEY ARE GOING TO LAST THAT LONG?
This year I wanted to try something different instead of making peanut brittle. One of the things I love about marcona almonds is that they have a real meatiness to them and are super crunchy. I like the nuts in my brittle to be crunchy. Ever get a brittle where the nuts are kind of gummy and soft and not that crunchy? These nuts will provide the crunch you are looking for.
Marcona Almond Brittle
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/4 Cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 Cup Marcona almonds
2 Tbsp. soft unsalted butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
Prepare a cookie sheet pan by greasing it or place a Silpat silicone liner on the sheet pan. Grease a large heat proof spatula with a small amount of butter or a metal spatula.
Measure out the baking soda, butter, and vanilla and place next to the stove for later.
In a heavy 2 quart sauce pan bring to a boil the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt over medium high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, do not stir the mixture [If the mixture starts to form any sugar crystals on the side of the pan, use a wet pastry brush to wipe the sides of the pan]. With a candy thermometer, bring to a boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 310°. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the almonds, butter, baking soda and stir briskly. Stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture all at once out onto the sheet pan and using a heat proof or greased spatula, spread the brittle out as much as you can to create an even surface. Let the pan cool on a wire rack until completely cool. Crack into pieces.