Answer: A hot cup of cocoa with homemade peppermint marshmallows.
Yes, you read correctly. I am suggesting that you make your own marshmallows this year, and I think that you will be surprised by how simple they are. Contrary to popular belief, homemade marshmallows are not something that can only be made by Martha Stewart. Prepare to impress your friends and family with your confection-making abilities!
The following recipe is really very easy, providing that you follow the directions well and you have a few key items in your kitchen: a candy thermometer and a stand mixer (a hand mixer will burn out with this recipe). Once you have tried this recipe, your hot chocolate and s’mores will be taken to a whole new level and store bought marshmallows just won’t do the trick. If you don’t like the idea of peppermint marshmallows, substitute vanilla extract for “plain” marshmallows or roll the squares in toasted coconut or cocoa powder. A few tips about this recipe:
- This recipe is all about timing. It is important to make sure that you have all of your ingredients ready and in place prior to starting, so make sure that you read the recipe completely through first. I like to have all of my utensils and bowls set out on position, so that they are ready when I need them.
- The color swirling part can prove to be a little tricky as the marshmallow starts to solidify, making it tough to run your toothpick through. Don’t worry about making this part perfect. The red is just supposed to be an accent color to let people know that the marshmallows are flavored–you can even omit the food coloring portion if you want to.
- After you cut the marshmallow squares, sprinkle them with a little bit of additional confectioner’s sugar. The confectioner’s sugar helps to keep the marshmallows from sticking together.
Makes 16 two-inch marshmallows
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
4 packages (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons red food coloring
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then coat the parchment paper with cooking spray. Set the pan aside.
Place the sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring and let the mixture come to a boil. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over 3/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl and let stand 5 minutes to soften. Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the extract; set aside.
Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Whisk the gelatin mixture into the hot sugar mixture. With the mixer running, gradually add this mixture to the egg whites. Mix on high speed until very thick, 10-12 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the lined pan. Working quickly, drop dots of red food coloring across the surface of the marshmallow. Using a toothpick, swirl the food coloring into the marshmallow to create a marbleized effect. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Let the marshmallow stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, at least three hours or overnight. Cut into squares.