Monday, November 30, 2015

Homemade Plain or Peppermint Marshmallows and Cocoa Mix for Teacher Gifts or Neighbors

Here is an easy gift to make for teachers, neighbors or friends. Marshmallows and cocoa mix. If you've never made marshmallows, I hate to be the one to tell you that they are super simple and very impressive. I love making peppermint marshmallows to put in cocoa but you can make plain if you prefer. You can also try rolling them in toasted coconut or even chopped nuts to eat them like candy.

Homemade Marshmallows:

* 3 packages unflavored gelatin
* 2 cups granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup light corn syrup
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
* Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Sprinkle powdered sugar into 2 8"x8" pans or one 9"x13" until bottom is completely coated.
Pour the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with your whisk attachment and allow this mixture to sit while you make the syrup.

In a large saucepan, preferably one that has a spout, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Place the lid on the pan for 1 minute to wash down the sides of the pan. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. If you live at higher altitudes, reduce the final temp by 2 degrees for every 1000 feet in altitude. I live at 6000 feet so I only cook my mixture to 228 degrees. Remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer onto low speed, while mixer is going, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. The gelatin will be all chunky when you turn on the mixer. Once all of the syrup is poured in turn the mixer up to high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Pour the marshmallow batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top of the mixture with damp hands. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or whatever topping you are using.

For the peppermint, I removed half the marshmallows for the plain pan and then stirred in 2 drops of red food coloring and 1/2 tsp of peppermint flavoring into the remaining half. After placing this into the second pan I sprinkled crushed peppermints over the top.

Allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.

Remove the marshmallows from the pan and cut into squares. I dip a knife into very hot water before each cut then roll each strip in powdered sugar before cutting into squares. Roll the sides of each square carefully in confectioners' sugar.

Once they have dried for a few hours and aren't sticky, they  can be bagged up for gifts or stored in a  sealed container or sealed baggies.

Creamy Cocoa Mix
This makes 20 cups of mix or about 60 servings. I make a big batch at the beginning or the winter and we use it all season. 

  • 13 cups dry milk powder
  • 6 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered non-dairy creamer (1- 15oz jar of powdered creamer) 
Sift together all these ingredients into a large bowl.
For extra chocolaty goodness I  add-
  • 2- 12 oz package of mini chocolate chips 
Stir to combine the scoop into jars for gifts or store sealed in a container for storage.

Variations- You can use flavored creamer if you want flavored cocoa or try adding some cayenne pepper to the mix for a bit of spicy heat.

To use this cocoa mix; Scoop 1/3 cup of mixture into mug and add boiling water. Stir and enjoy.

Alton Brown has a Recipe for Cocoa mix that I haven't tried just because I love the creaminess of my recipe but for those who don't want to use powdered creamer here is his recipe.
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Mix all ingredients together and store in airtight container.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Brandy Snaps with Cinnamon Eggnog Cream or Brandy Cream

I love brandy snaps.  They are light lacy crisp tubes that you can fill, leave unfilled and dip one end into melted chocolate or leave plain. They take a bit of practice but after one or two you'll find them very easy to make!

You really have to find some Golden syrup to make this recipe. Karo just doesn't work as well. I get mine at Cost Plus but Amazon has it as well.

This recipe makes 24 cookies.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • Preheat oven to 350ยบ 
  • Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment and then grease the handle of a wooden spoon well and set aside. 
  • Into a small bowl stir together the flour and the dried, ground ginger
  • Add the butter, sugar and golden syrup to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Don't stir too much or allow the mixture to boil or the sugar can crystalize.  This will take about 10-15 minutes
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and stir in the flour and the lemon juice. 
  • Using a tablespoon, scoop 1 TBS  onto the cookie sheet.  Place 3-4 scoops 4" apart onto a cookie sheet. 
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are golden brown, spread out and bubbling. 
  • Remove from oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes. The cookie needs to be just firm enough to remove, but pliable enough to shape. I use a thin knife or very thin spatula to carefully peel up an edge. If the edge doesn't stretch out it's time to shape!   
  • Roll the cookie around the greased spoon handle and set on a cooling rack. 
  • You have to move fast to get them all done before they harden up too much. 
Let the cookies cool completely before dipping one end into melted chocolate or filling with the Brandy cream or the Eggnog cream. 

Brandy Cream
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 TBS Brandy
1/3 cup sugar
Combine cream, brandy and sugar and whip until stiff peaks. 

Cinnamon Eggnog Cream
1 1/2 cups of whipping cream
2 TBS Brandy
3 TBS Eggnog
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
Combine all the ingredients and whip to stiff peaks. 

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