Sunday, December 11, 2011

Peppermint Marshmallows with Peppermint Hot Chocolate

My sister has a critter.  I'm not talking about Grady either.  There's something in her attic that makes little noises that can only be heard when the TV is off and no one else is with you.  She had suspected something was up there for a while, then she got confirmation when they went to get Christmas decorations out of the attic and ornaments were strewn about.  Also up there was an empty bag of jerky treats that had been torn apart.  That's how we ruled out a ghost.  Ghosts don't need jerky.  So we're thinking a raccoon.

I really hope it doesn't decide to take a walk downstairs.

Y'know what you need?  Marshmallows.  Legit homemade marshmallows.  Because guess what?  They're incredibly easy to make.  I know what you're thinking.  "I can buy marshmallows at the store.  Why on God's green earth would I take the time to make them?"  Because they're way freakin' better if you do them yourself.  You may quote me on that.  My only qualification is that you need either a stand mixer (preferable) or at least a hand mixer because this business has to go 12 minutes straight.

If you make marshmallows, you might as well make hot chocolate to go with it.
Things you need: Light corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, peppermint extract, powdered sugar, cold water, salt, and nonstick spray or vegetable oil.  You need a lot of this, and I suspect using spray is easier.
First things first.  Spray down a 9x9 pan with nonstick spray and line with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side.  I know it sounds weird, spraying the pan and then lining it but not spraying the plastic liner.  But it just works.  Pro tip: Don't question Martha.
Pour the cold water into the bowl of your stand mixer or other large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top.  Let it sit for ten minutes to bloom or some such nonsense.  Just kidding, it's not nonsense.  It's science.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and more water.  Heat over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil.
Boiling!  Let it go for one minute and take it off the heat.
Slowly pour the boiling sugar mixture down the side of the bowl and mix on high speed.  Add the salt and continue to mix for 12 minutes.
This is what it looks like after a couple of minutes.
This is going on 10 minutes.  Doesn't that look neat-o?
After 12 minutes we basically have fluff.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't take a little taste of the base mixture.  Heaven.  At this point you can add the peppermint extract and mix until it's well combined, maybe another minute.  I'd also be lying if I said I didn't taste a little of the fluff with the peppermint added.
Working quickly, spray down a rubber spatula or your hands and spread the marshmallow mix into the prepared pan.  I found the spatula worked just fine.  You might have a little left in the bowl.  Just eat it. Don't worry about getting yourself all sticky.  There's no judgment here.  Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with nonstick spray and cover the pan.  Let it set for about 2 hours.
Sprinkle powdered sugar over your counter.  Peel off the plastic wrap and put the marshmallow block on the powdered sugar.
Using a greased knife, cut the marshmallows into squares.  Okay, real talk.  Martha says this makes 16 marshmallows.  Um, those are massive mallows.
I cut them down into more manageable sizes.  This is more like 64 marshmallows.  They look kind of small from this angle, but they're like an inch and a half tall.
Working in batches, toss the marshmallows with sifted powdered sugar.  You can do more than four at a time; this was just to show you what I was doing.  I know, I know.  This seems like a lot of sugar.  That's kind of how a marshmallow works.  The powdered sugar keeps them from sticking together.
Store your marshmallows in airtight containers.
I filled 3 medium tupperware containers.
Powdered sugar carnage.
Hot chocolate times.  I used one cup of 2% milk.  If you want it creamier, use whole.
1/2 c of half-and-half.  Again, if you want it creamier, use heavy cream.
I feel like the chocolate is very important.  I used a semisweet chocolate because to me, that's the perfect amount of sweetness.  Especially considering I'm adding marshmallows covered in powdered sugar.  By all means, use the chocolate you love the most.
Chop 2 ounces of your preferred chocolate.  The more you chop the chocolate the easier it'll melt.
Add it to the milk and half-and-half that's been warming on the stove over medium low heat.  The milk doesn't need to boil or even scald really.  It just needs to be warm enough to melt the chocolate.
Whisk it up until the chocolate has melted and fused with the milk.  Add the vanilla and peppermint extracts off the heat, 1/2 tsp and 1/4 tsp respectively.  My method for getting the hot chocolate into the mug without spilling was to pour it first into my measuring cup because the mouth is wider.  Then it was simple to pour from the measuring cup into the mug!

Use your favorite mug and top with the scrumptious peppermint marshmallows!  It's a lovely little treat for a chilly night.  Just try not to let the critters get to it.

Peppermint Marshmallows (makes up to 64, depending on size)
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
3 (1/4 oz) packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 c cold water + 1/4 c water
2 c sugar
2/3 c light corn syrup
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract
Powdered sugar, sifted, for dusting and coating

  • Spray a 9x9 baking dish with nonstick spray.  Line with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or other large bowl, pour the 1/2 c cold water and sprinkle the gelatin.  Let stand 10 minutes. 
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the remaining water, sugar, and corn syrup.  Let it come to a rapid boil and boil for 1 minute.  Take off the heat and pour down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture, mixing on high.  Add salt and mix for 12 minutes.  Add peppermint extract and mix to combine thoroughly.
  • Spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray and spread marshmallow mix into the prepared pan.  Work quickly to avoid having the mixture go stringy and sticky or hardening.  Let it set for about 2 hours.
  • Remove all the plastic wrap and place marshmallow block on counter dusted with powdered sugar.  Using a sharp knife greased with cooking spray, cut the marshmallows into desired number of square or rectangles.  Toss the cut marshmallows in a large bowl of sifted powdered sugar to coat, working in batches.  Store in airtight containers up to 3 days.  
Peppermint Hot Chocolate for One

1 c milk (2% or whole is preferable)
1/2 c half-and-half (cream may most definitely be substituted)
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
Peppermint Marshmallows

  • Heat milk and half-and-half in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  When milk is hot, add chocolate and whisk until chocolate is completely melted and combined with the milk.  Take off heat and add extracts.  For easy pouring, transfer hot chocolate into a glass measuring cup with a large mouth.  Pour into your favorite mug and top with peppermint marshmallows.  Drink with pleasure and enjoy your evening.

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