Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Eat&BeMerry: Hot Chocolate, Marshmallows

To warm up after sledding, shoveling or just as a sweet treat at night, try these warm delights.

Hot chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
Dash of salt
3 cups of milk

Heat chocolate and water in 1 1/2-quart saucepan, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in sugar and salt. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, stirring constantly, for 4 minutes. Stir in milk; cover and heat through but do not boil. Just before serving, beat with hand beater until foamy. Makes six servings
—The Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal

This hot cocoa mix can be blended and stored in an airtight container for at least a year. You can use either hot milk or hot water to make the beverage. Make multiple batches to keep on hand or give as gifts -- and be sure to get the kids involved in mixing it up.

Hot Cocoa Mix

2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
2-1/2 cups powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend evenly. Store in an airtight container. To make 4 servings of hot cocoa, heat 4 to 6 cups of water or milk. Add about 1/4 cup of powdered mix to each mug. Pour in hot water or milk and stir to combine.

And if you're really feeling ambitious (and own a candy thermometer) go all out, and make your own marshmallows:

Martha's Marshmallows

2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar (for dusting)

Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let it stand 30 minutes.

Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup of water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.

Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.

With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.

Generously dust an 8 x 12-inch glass baking pan with confectioners' sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar; let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out.

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