Hot Cha-cha-colate

I told Petey the other day it doesn’t matter who you are, or how much experience you’ve had, making marshmallows is a messy, sticky, sticky business.  Did I mention it’s sticky?All you can do is try to minimize damage.

Because I have more time than money, I make many gifts in my kitchen.

Our cocoa mix is easy and delicious.  Stirring in a small handful of chopped chocolate will make it crazy rich.

Special Dark Cocoa

In a food processor, mix until texture is powdery and homogeneous:cocoa

¾ cup powdered milk

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¾ cup sugar

½ cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder

Then add:

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Store in airtight container.  To make a cup, mix ½ cup cocoa mix into 1 cup milk.  Makes 4 cups.And here are the marshmallows that go with the cocoa.  It’s a recipe adapted from Alton Brown. The response you get from people is worth all the heat and mess.  Most people don’t even realize they can be made at home.

Homemade marshmallowsmarshmallows-2

3 packages unflavored gelatin

1 cup ice cold water, divided

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 vanilla bean, scraped, reserving pod

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Nonstick spray

Place gelatin into bowl of stand mixer with ½ cup water.

Prepare pan:

Put confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cover it with a piece of oiled foil.  Add the sugar and swirl to coat bottom and sides.  Save remaining sugar for later use.

In small saucepan combine remaining water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and empty vanilla pod. Place over medium-high heat, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto side of pan and continue to cook until mixture reaches 240 degrees. Immediately remove from heat and take out vanilla pod.Using whisk attachment, turn mixer on low speed and slowly pour all the sugar syrup down side of the bowl into gelatin mixture. Once added, increase speed to high. Continue to whip until mixture becomes fluffy, white, and increases in volume approximately 500%; approximately 10 to 13 minutes. Add the vanilla bean caviar during last minute of whipping.

When ready, pour mixture into prepared pan, using oiled spatula for even spreading. Dust top with enough of the remaining sugar to lightly cover. Reserve the rest again.  Allow marshmallows to sit uncovered for a few hours before cutting.Once the candy is set, place a piece of parchment onto large cutting board.  Turn the marshmallows out and peel off foil.  Dust bottom and sides with more powdered sugar.  Using powder sugar dusted pizza cutter, cut the candy; 6 pieces wide and 8 long.  As you cut, place into a zip top bag that has some confectioners’ sugar in it.  Gently shake to coat, and place onto parchment to fully set.

Make sure you have everything out and organized.  Once the candy is ready to go from mixer to the prepared pan you have waiting, don’t fool around.  Move deliberately, but with a sense of controlled urgency.

Even if you do everything right, there will still be a mess.  During both the cooking and mixing stages you’ve got time room to load the dish washer and wipe down the stove, the counters, your dog, and mischievous family members.

I leave you with three simple words: Hot.Soapy.Water.

But then hand the out marshmallows and bask in the praise that will fall upon your genius shoulders like warm summer rain.Thanks for your time.