Chasing Chills Away With …

Homemade hot chocolate
Hot-Chocolate-12

Photos by Michael Kartes

Sure you can open a few packets of that powdered stuff and dump some boiling water in and have at it. Instant hot chocolate is serviceable, perhaps even satisfying, to some people. That is until you take a sip of the real deal — we’re talking homemade hot chocolate with fresh milk, good chocolate and a hint of vanilla. Of course we are just getting warmed up. Add homemade marshmallows on top, all gooey and melted, and be prepared to enter a state of what we like to call sweet, chocolaty bliss.

Ultimate Homemade Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped (Chips work great, too.)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 to 5 cups whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Over medium-low heat, melt the chocolate slowly. Add cocoa powder, sugar and salt.
  2. Slowly add the milk and stir. Start with 4 cups, and add more milk if desired. This is a party in a mug, so more chocolate, less milk is always my choice.
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer, but do not boil. Keep stirring.
  4. Top with marshmallows or whipped cream; stir with cinnamon sticks if you like a little spice.
Hot-Chocolate-4

Homemade marshmallows

Amazing Marshmallows

One of my favorite food blogs is smittenkitchen.com. Author Deb Perelam makes amazing meals in her New York kitchen and when I wanted to figure out how to make marshmallows, I went straight to her blog. I changed the recipe a bit and opted for a bit less sugar and more egg white, but the process of making the mallow is the same.

Ingredients:

  • About 1 cup confectioner’s sugar for dusting
  • 3½ envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2½ teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 1¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Oil a 13-by-9 by-2-inch rectangular metal baking pan. Dust bottom and sides with confectioner’s sugar. Set aside.
  2. Add ½ cup very cold water into an electric mixer bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over it.
  3. In a 3-quart saucepan with a candy thermometer on the side or digital thermometer at hand, melt sugar, corn syrup, salt and ½ cup water on low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat until the mixture just hits a boil — and do not stir it! Your thermometer should register 240 degrees.
  4. Remove the sugar mixture from the heat and pour it into the gelatin mixture. Stir until gelatin dissolves.
  5. Beat with an electric stand mixer on high speed until the mixture turns white like a cloud and thickens. It will nearly triple in volume in about 5 minutes. (If you are using an electric hand mixer make sure you also use a big bowl. Some people told Smitten Kitchen the hand mixer took longer to fluff up).
  6. Clean the beaters. Grab a medium bowl.
  7. Beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites if food safety concerns you) until they begin to form stiff peaks. Add vanilla or desired flavor.
  8. Add the egg white mixture into the sugar mixture until just combined.
  9. Pour the mixture into that sugarfied baking pan. (I made a mess the first time trying to get the sticky mess all out, learn from my mistakes! Let some of it go.)
  10. Sift ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar over the top.
  11. Chill marshmallows uncovered until they get firm — about three hours. Then cut, toss in more sugar if desired, and top hot chocolate.

Marshmallow Mix-Ins:

  • ½ scraped vanilla bean
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • A pinch of cocoa powder (chocolate mallows!)
  • A few drops of your favorite food coloring
  • Sparkle colored sugar for bling!

Tip:
Homemade marshmallows keep for about a week in an airtight container on the counter.

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