It snowed yesterday. And snowed, and snowed, and snowed. I had all of these plans, but ultimately wanted nothing more than to curl up on the sofa with a book and a mug of cocoa. Which is exactly what I did for most of the day. I made my cocoa in about five minutes and it totally got the job done, but I felt like it was missing something--marshmallows.
It's been a while since I've made marshmallows. As intimidating as "homemade marshmallows" may sound, it's nothing more than a meringue infused with gelatin. So if you can make meringue, you can make marshmallows. If you've never made meringue, having a candy thermometer helps. Also, this recipe uses silver gelatin sheets--something you can find on Amazon.
Also, I felt like being fancy so I used a snowflake-shaped cookie cutter for the marshmallows. The cocoa is pretty standard. I don't like my cocoa too sweet OR too chocolatey. Besides, if you're adding marshmallows, you are adding more sweetener to the cocoa! But, if you like your cocoa really chocolatey, add a little more cocoa!
The snowing has stopped, but this cocoa makes me want to pick back up where I left off on my book and let yesterday melt into today.
Snowday Snowflake Cocoa
Makes 4 (8-ounce) servings
4 cups milk (any milk you like!) 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 cup sugar Vanilla Bean Marshmallows (see recipe below)
Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once the milk starts to simmer, stir in the cocoa powder and sugar. Turn off the heat and stir until it is dissolved. Pour into mugs and top with vanilla bean marshmallows. You may also garnish with a dusting of cocoa powder, cinnamon sticks, or star anise. Serve hot.
Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
1/2 cup corn starch 1/2 cup powdered sugar 4 silver gelatin sheets* 2 large or extra large egg whites (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons or 87g) 1/2 vanilla bean 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1/2 cup water 2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
*This can be found on Amazon. Silver denotes the amount of gelatin in the sheet.
- Combine the powdered sugar and corn starch. Line an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle half of the powdered sugar-corn starch mixture inside and coat the pan. Shake out the excess and set the pan aside.
- Place the gelatin sheets in a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes to soften. Using your hands, remove the gelatin sheets and gently squeeze to release any excess water. Place the gelatin sheets in a small bowl over a small pot of simmering water to melt the gelatin. Once melted, turn off the heat but keep the bowl over the water so that the gelatin remains melted. (It may be necessary to gently reheat before using.)
- Prepare the meringue by placing the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Scrape out the vanilla bean seeds and add to the egg whites. Whisk on low. Meanwhile, combine the granulated sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once simmering, continue to heat for about five minutes (bubbles should be breaking the top, at first fast, and then slower as it gets hotter.) Once the bubbles start to slow, increase the speed in the stand mixer to medium. **The goal is to have the egg whites at medium peaks just as the sugar mixture reaches 280 F. (If the peaks form more quickly, reduce the speed of the mixer to low).
- Once the sugar mixture reaches 280 F, remove it from the heat. Pour it carefully and slowly down the side of the bowl with the stand mixer, with the mixer whisking on medium speed. (**It's imperative you pour the sugar mixture slowly and on the side of the bowl to prevent the very hot sugar from splattering.) Once all of the sugar has been poured in, add the melted gelatin. Increase the speed and whisk on medium high for five minutes. The meringue should no longer be hot and should be thick and glossy.
- Spray a spatula with cooking spray. Using the greased spatula, spread the mixture into the prepared square pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to set for at least four hours, or overnight.
- Once set, use a knife to go around the edge of the pan to loosen it. Then, add more of the reserved corn starch-powdered sugar mixture and sprinkle on top of the marshmallows. Finally, turn the pan over onto a large piece of parchment paper, and gently shake until the square marshmallow comes out.
- Spray a snowflake cookie cutter (or knife) with cooking spray. Cut out or cut the marshmallows. Clean and respray the cookie cutter or knife with each use. If the marshmallows are sticky, you can dust them with the corn starch-powdered sugar mixture. They can be stored at room temperature in a covered container for 3 days.